By Enyonam Nanevie, founder and CEO at Building Community Bridges, offering communities in West Africa with entry to fundamental wants and financial alternatives.
Constructing Group Bridges started with an African lady’s journey virtually three a long time in the past. For not less than half of that point, my nonprofit group was solely a dream, however I by no means gave up on it. I used to be a diplomat’s daughter who turned homeless on the age of 18 to pursue a path my mother and father didn’t help. As I advised my mother and father, I needed to return residence and assist the villagers.
Being born in Togo after which changing into an American diplomat’s daughter at 9 years of age meant I got here from two completely different worlds: the world of villagers and have-nots, and the world of privilege, schooling and alternative that many dream about when imagining a greater life in America or Europe.
The story of Constructing Group Bridges (BCB) is rooted in my private story as a result of creating BCB was about searching for to handle all the problems I had skilled as a toddler in Togo and Ghana. The problems many villagers skilled every day nonetheless exist at present. I lived within the villages in the course of the summers with my grandparents. I fetched soiled water from holes within the floor and introduced it again for us to cook dinner with and drink. There was no electrical energy within the villages I grew up in. I bear in mind the issue that my mom had in paying our faculty charges and the various ladies in related circumstances who stayed residence from faculty to assist their households.
I didn’t create a nonprofit as a benevolent foreigner who needed to “save Africa.” I created it as a toddler of these I left behind within the villages. My uncles, aunts and cousins nonetheless reside in villages in Ghana at present. My background and story knowledgeable and fueled my pursuit to create options that will final for the long run and tackle points in a fashion that upheld the dignity, tradition of collectivism and hope of the individuals.
Our mission has at all times been to remodel and empower villagers to turn into changemakers who take their very own destinies of their arms. Now we have been adamant about not propagating complacency and the “support dependency” that many worldwide growth efforts have fostered in a fashion that disempowers individuals.
I’ve seen firsthand that the true sustainability of any undertaking lies within the native shareholders’ — in our case, villagers’ — confidence in their very own capacity to keep up tasks previous completion. I consider the worldwide developmental group should perceive the significance of involving native communities at first and all through all ranges of any growth effort as a approach for stakeholders to take possession of tasks. This has at all times been our strategy as a result of we all know that the African individuals, with their very own native information base and conventional applied sciences, know greatest what they want.
After many begins and stops, failure and successes, we have now lastly discovered a strong basis and mannequin that mixes agribusiness and entrepreneurship, experience from tutorial establishments and the transformation of villagers into traders who put money into different villages. Right this moment, I see potential in a multilayered strategy to agricultural growth, with alternatives for farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs in West Africa to take a major market share on this multibillion-dollar business.
The president of the African Improvement Financial institution Akinwumi Adesina stated, “I consider that the long run millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come out of the meals and agriculture business — not out of oil and fuel sector.” I not solely wholeheartedly agree, however I’m additionally searching for to pioneer a approach ahead in Ghana by putting a fair proportion of income and energy within the arms of African farmers whereas serving to them seize the market alternatives. In reality, it’s predicted that the agribusiness sector in Africa will attain $1 trillion by 2030.
For instance, recognizing this long-term pattern, BCB has pivoted to the expansion of its social enterprise within the processing and sale of rice as certainly one of its pillars. (Our for-profit social enterprise grew out of the nonprofit father or mother group.) Our group is working with a village associate affiliation to offer assets that can permit the farmers to provide rice all yr lengthy. The farms’ location is near a tributary of the river Volta, which implies they’ve an infinite provide of water, a crucial part for rising rice.
I consider mechanization, processing and storage capability are the keys to empowering African farmers to generate income that present a transparent pathway out of poverty and to allow them to take possession of their futures. With elevated hands-on coaching and schooling on technological and digital developments, African farmers will probably be poised to emerge because the winners in an period when immense world assets are being mobilized for elevated meals manufacturing. I predict that income generated from this sector will affect all different growth sectors, making agribusiness a brand new cornerstone of total social growth in rural and village communities not solely in West Africa, however in Africa as a complete.
From my nonprofit journey to the dream of agribusiness’s potential to remodel the African continent, desires have to be stored alive, nurtured, pursued and by no means given up on. In at present’s world, desires are the guarantees of tomorrow. The desires which are realized manifest our future actuality for our beloved planet. Dare to dream.