The Women’s Entrepreneurial Program: Lebialem Valley
This holistic educational and entrepreneurial program will provide women in the rural southwest region of Cameroon with new economic possibilities and the tools to provide a nutritionally rich diet to their families.
The objectives of Breaking Ground’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Program:
- To strengthen the capacities of women in these communities to manage commercial agricultural activities and thus improve their incomes and living conditions.
- To improve the nutrition of women and their families through crop diversification.
To accomplish these objectives, Breaking Ground will instruct the women of these communities in applicable business and farming techniques, using a combination of classroom training and technical instruction. The business class will inspire women to expand their activities beyond the subsistence level and will provide specific trainings that provide opportunities for increased productivity, such as soap making, palm oil processing and coconut oil processing.
We will work with the women to build a community garden in each village that includes peppers, cassava, citrus fruits and bananas. The community garden will be used for instruction in organic agricultural techniques and then provide seeds for the women to transplant in their own fields. As part of the business/agriculture class, we will demonstrate how women can integrate these crops into their diets
We will also provide loans and support to women to invest in cocoa and palm production, and pig farming. In time, we will also finance the purchase of mechanical processing tools, such as manioc grinders.
The women of the Lebialem Valley have been involved in the program design since the beginning, as we have conducted focus groups, pilot workshops and follow-up interviews. By training, encouraging, and supporting a group of women to diversify their produce and invest in cash crops, these women will become role-models and mentors for other women in the community. Through the training, in each village we will work with the women to build a dynamic women’s organization that can mobilize its energies and resources to accomplish other projects in the future.
We will also be developing female leadership as part of the larger agricultural program. In each village a management committee will be established to oversee the nurseries and to manage the communal funds. These 4-5 person committees must include representation from traditionally disenfranchised segments of the community: women and youth. In combination with the business training that the women are receiving and the new economic possibilities, these leadership positions will give women a stronger voice in their communities. As a result, we expect to see greater involvement of women in the social and economic life of the community.