Help to Self-help
More than 50 percent of farmers in the areas where Better Globe Forestry Ltd (BGF) operates live below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day. It is in these areas we together can make the most significant difference, far more than by the traditional means of charity and aid.
To give people help when they need help is perfectly natural and very important. However, it is worth considering the true meaning of help, and whether some types of “help” is actually a hindrance.
Lately, there has been a growing awareness of how charity donations end up harming the people they were supposed to assist. BGF’s solution to this is social entrepreneurship, and by working closely with local communities, they can give them the type of support needed for the communities to grow over time. Better Globe AS helps make this possible by crowdfunding the activities of BGF, the local agent of Better Globe AS, responsible for planting and caring for the trees.
Purchasing power is the foundation of the economic cycle
Creating jobs is one of the crucial elements of BGF’s concept to tackle poverty and corruption. Those living in the areas where BGF typically chooses to establish operations, usually lack opportunities to find paid work. When they start working for BGF, it is often the first job they have, and that allows them to have real purchasing power.
Those who have a salary and money in their pockets can buy things and use their purchasing power to buy from someone else that needs customers, who, in turn, earns money for their family, and so on.
Most of us are living in a completely different world than the people we support. And we sometimes forget what drives our world. Our way of life is only possible because we have purchasing power and money flowing through our society.
In many places, like the semi-desert areas far from cities and large communities, purchasing power is low, and cash flow is limited. As a result, the areas become even more unpopulated. Those who can move, do so to areas where they think they might find employment or income opportunities. Jobs, however, are seldom found, and shantytowns are instead growing around the big cities. As a consequence, crime increases, and with that corruption, and vice versa.
Purchasing power is crucial for adults to resist the temptation to leave the elderly and, in some cases, their children, to move to the slums around big cities, in search of a livelihood.
The benefits of purchasing power
Today, all the communities in the world, ranging from the smallest fishing village to major cities like New York, exist because purchasing power attracts business and trade. Growth in purchasing power is essential in creating a thriving economy, job opportunities, and to reduce poverty.
As workers receive their salaries, their purchasing power grows, and we start to see the small villages in the areas where BGF operates increase in size. Some villages have doubled or multiplied in just a few short years, simply because people migrate to find jobs or potential customers. In communities with purchasing power, it is possible to generate income by providing services that people with income are willing to buy.
By providing green jobs and laying the foundation for other income opportunities, we help create a thriving and sustainable community that allows people to stay together in the village where they are born.
Access to financial services
One way to support the people in these areas is by financing new ways to make a living through microloan banks. Those who receive loans in the banks, which we help to fund through BGF, also become stakeholders of the bank. The members of these community-owned banks also receive basic training in economics and the conservation of resources. They may also get advice on how to create a business that allows them to pay back the microloan.
After that, they can take an even larger loan and create better conditions for themselves, their families, and the community where they work. These microloan banks are owned and operated entirely by the villagers, but Better Globe AS’s sponsors provide the microfinance banks’ funding when they buy the donation package.
As villages become larger and purchasing power increases, the same goes for the collective opportunities and political incentives to build infrastructure, roads and water channels, etc. In this part of the world, they currently have basic needs for roads and water supplies of various kinds, but in the long term, there are other issues to consider, like healthcare, supporting education, culture, etc.
This way of working, where Better Globe’s contribution is part of the engine of this continuous change through BGF, ultimately leads to sustainable communities. Since our model is based on business activities, it becomes a sustainable system that allows us to provide help to self-help.
Community Based Organizations (CBOs)
In 2019, BGF embarked on forming farmer groups with their agroforestry partner programs located in Seven Forks (Kenya) and Dokolo (Uganda). These farmer groups have adopted a structure similar to Community Based Organizations (CBOs) that are recognized by the respective governments. The farmer groups are monitored for activity and performance, and the most vibrant groups will get assistance to acquire a legally recognized certificate and become an official CBO.
Farmer groups work closely with BGF Agroforestry Agents, Community Representatives (CRs), and site managers. Activity is triggered within the groups, and different sets of data, such as seedling survival, are tracked. The benefits for farmers range from group training, collaboration with neighbors in terms of land use and fencing, access to income activities like seedling production, and farmers even receive facilitation fees for participation in group training.
The money the farmers receive often goes to the village banks or is used as “merry go rounds” (loans) within the group where individual members, in turn, can borrow this money and return it with interest. These funds enable farmer groups to borrow to pay school fees for their children, start businesses, address emergencies, purchase farm inputs, and engage in income-generating activities, e.g., goat rearing and beekeeping. And for the farmers, financial incentives like this have reduced dependency on charity organizations and government institutions.
Through farmer groups, BGF has been able to train 78 percent of its contract farmers on soil and water conservation measures by June 2020. Out of this number, 50 percent have implemented the measures by constructing terraces, repairing existing ones, digging cut-off drains, and practicing conservation agriculture; the results are impressive.
Kyoa Ndewa Kimele, a contract farmer from Ngondini Village, Ithumbi sublocation, attests that her farm has improved in crop production due to reduced soil erosion. She says Water infiltration and retention on her land have increased, thus ensuring crops get continuous water and mineral supply over a longer period.
Farmer groups receive training in many subjects, such as planting and seedling management, tree pruning, income-generating activities, land use planning, farm protection, fencing, and more. As a group, the farmers get to understand better the importance of the program and the benefits they will derive from tree planting.
Donate to help plant trees and reduce poverty
We invite you to make a difference in East Africa and contribute to a better world. Our trees are managed in an ethical, sustainable, and long-term way. Click on the link to our shop and make a socially responsible and sustainable donation today. It feels great to help others!