As a Small business development Volunteer in a rural village in Morocco, I worked with the local weaving association. One of my projects was creating a carpet catalog for the weavers. This took me into all the houses of the weavers where I photographed their carpets and family members. Here I photographed one of the weavers, Sadia, with a carpet made entirely of recycled sweater thread from her family. She had just finished it and her nephew, Mohamed, was excited about his modeling opportunity.
- Peace Corps Small Business Volunteer Terra Fuller
In September 2011, Health PCV Emily Engel from Anchorage, AL worked with her counterparts Haoua Ouédraogo and Mamouna Zida to promote neem cream production. The group created a full day workshop to reach all of the satellite villages in their health jurisdiction. During the workshop 55 women from surrounding villages learned about the basics of malaria, the business of selling neem cream and how to make the locally produced mosquito repellant.
Women in Kalsaka formed a group to produce neem cream after the workshop. They sell neem cream in small bags for 150 cfa and 200 cfa. The group is also working to produce liquid soap and hard soap as well as encouraging the women to have their own small businesses. Burkina is the second largest producer of Shea Butter in the world, so this major ingredient in neem cream is easily found in most small villages. The project is an inexpensive and popular among volunteers and communities in Burkina Faso.
Peace Corps Volunteer Teaches Students to Make Bread; Generate Income in Uganda
Peace Corps Volunteer Siong Ng recently spent two months teaching three teachers and 30 female students how to make bread to generate income for their community.
“We intend to be self-sufficient after the first school term by supporting the baking program with revenue from the sale of baked goods. Of course, we cannot bake bread without an oven. On one of the field trips to a bakery store, we saw an unused wood-fire oven and convinced the owner to donate it to our school. She did and that was the rest of the happy story,” said Ng, 62, who has been working as an education Volunteer since February 2010. Ng was previously a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mexico for three years where he worked with business owners to improve their operations.
In January, Ng started the baking program, which is held every Thursday for both teachers and students from a local primary school. Later in the year, they intend to increase the trainings to two-to three-times a week. The most recent training in early March yielded six loaves of bread and more than 100 dinner rolls. Ng taught students business skills and helped them to sell half their baked goods to the local community.
Mouhou Boussine, my counterpart, and I are sitting amongst her drying roses in the Valley of the Roses in Morocco. As a small business development Volunteer, I helped Mouhou develop the weaving association in the village. The weavers were all agrarian farmers and every spring, we woke at dawn to harvest roses which we often cooked into rosewater.
- Peace Corps Business Development Volunteer Terra Fuller
Peace Corps Volunteers John Hart and Caroline Lucas helped launch a women-owned small business in Armenia selling and producing handmade stuffed bears. Since the Berd Bear project started in March 2011, the women have sold 230 bears, and generated thousands of dollars.
“The women of Berd are incredibly talented and hardworking. They put a lot of pride into their craft, which is evident in each carefully and lovingly handmade bear,” said Lucas. “As sales of the Berd Bear increase, more local Armenian women are able to work in full-time positions with the BWRCF.”
Additional income generated by sales of the Berd Bear is used to provide members of the foundation with training classes in basic computer skills, business development and other topics.
“Aside from the financial benefits generated by bear sales, the women are also gaining business and leadership skills,” continued Lucas. “Now, these women can help support their families.”