Moving out of poverty and into financial independence requires more than a greater income.
It calls for holistic programs and training that reach groups of people who are excluded from traditional economic systems. With access to programs like financial literacy, local savings groups, food processing training and business management, our Program Country partners are able to elevate themselves out of poverty once and for all. This is exactly what’s happening at Vy Epicenter in Burkina Faso.
At Vy, a community-managed microfinance program (financial cooperative) operating out of The Hunger Project epicenter building has now been recognized by the national government as an official village bank. This means that community members are able to save and grow their income with confidence and take out business loans to expand their local income-generating activities, like small stores and food processing centers. All while continuing to access core skills through our workshops and training programs. This cooperative program addresses a critical missing link for the end of hunger in Africa by supporting food producers with access to both the financial and educational resources they need to thrive.
At the beginning, we had many difficulties. We had no materials, let alone money. We managed to get by until The Hunger Project’s holistic financial services were presented to us. Since then, our activities have been going well. Today, we built our own garden to grow our own food and no longer need to buy ingredients for cooking. We make profits we use to send our children to school. Thanks to profits from this garden, we are in the middle of building a new house.”
The program is managed by women and primarily supports women. Since 2002, nearly 317,000 women have been trained in financial literacy in African Program Countries.
We were in another fund, but the conditions were very difficult. Our activities even stopped and we were then out of work for two years. That’s when we heard about The Hunger Project and community lending. We started with 50,000 FCFA (about USD 83) as a loan and opened a restaurant. We have now paid back the loan and this restaurant allows me to provide for my family and to pay for my children’s education,
Women are often excluded from economic structures under the assumption that their only role is in the home. Child care is often their greatest barrier to financial independence. To address this Vy Epicenter has opened a nursery where kindergarteners are enrolled in order to ensure that mothers are fully engaged in income-generating activities. With this resource, women now have a significant voice in the community and decision making power.
Financial literacy has the potential to make a significant contribution towards ending hunger and malnutrition. By providing access to credit, training, and other financial services, these programs empower individuals and smallholder farmers to invest in their businesses, increase productivity, access new markets, and improve their livelihoods. This helps them to purchase food and other essentials, and also to invest in sustainable agriculture and food production. By providing financing and training, farmers and entrepreneurs access the resources they need to improve their yields and income, and reduce food insecurity. This approach not only supports the immediate needs of the community but also promotes long-term resilience and sustainability.
Image above: Burkina Faso, 2022; Photo for The Hunger Project