We recently conducted a small business workshop as part of our ongoing efforts to equip the villagers of Keur Soce with skills to help them thrive on their own. They have diligently worked over the past few years to build a successful garden in the midst of difficult conditions. They have worked to build up the soil, carefully monitored for pests, consistently watered everyday, attentively grown crops from seeds, and organized themselves into operating teams.
They are starting to see real success in the volume and quality of produce they are harvesting, but now we want them to take the next step. The goal from the outset of this was to not only provide additional nutritive options for themselves and the community, but also allow them to produce enough to sell, creating a vital income generation stream. Now being in that position, we are developing their business skills so that they can identify markets for their produce, learn ways to be competitive and grow, and create an efficient delivery system.
There is some knowledge of these ideas in the village, but they are often confined to very small markets with little or no room for growth and the thought of expanding (outside their small community) seems daunting. And as with any economic system, there is potential for those with little knowledge to be taken advantage of, dissolving any possibility for growth and profit.
With this in mind, we brought the women together to teach and inspire them down this road. To say they got excited is an understatement!
Teaching largely through storytelling, the women really connected with the ideas and were enthusiastic about adopting the new practices. As the meeting went on, the crowd grew more excited and starting shouting about what this new knowledge could do for them. While the pictures don't do it justice, the event got pretty intense. Fearing there might be small riot, our instructor - Andando Founder Kevin Kiker - asked our interpreter what was happening. He said "they are just so happy!" Another woman stood up and shouted "This is a wake-up call!!", and everyone joined in the shouting and some began dancing.
Time will tell exactly what principles they took away from the whole event, but seeing this enthusiasm was very encouraging. This is the first business workshop in a series with these women, so it will be great to see where this goes. We are hopeful this inspiration will translate into new action toward development, and we really appreciate all the excitement!