The BBFS program has three main components: business education, business grants and loans and mentoring by a business professional. Throughout the term of the loan, the borrower is monitored and receives assistance from a Give Us Wings’ business coordinator. Hundreds of participants have expanded or started businesses, increased their families’ incomes and improved their standard of living.
Give Us Wings is currently focusing the BBFS program on the 156 families that are members of the 16 community-based groups we have worked with since 1999. The families in the BBFS program care for hundreds of orphans and elderly people. Many of these families have previously received organic farming training, literacy education, and business training provided by Give Us Wings.
All members of a community-based group receive their loans at the same time and all members must have repaid their loan within six months in order to qualify for the next round of grants and loans. In the first phase of the grant/loan program the borrower receives both a loan and a grant. In the second phase the borrower receives a larger loan and a smaller grant. In the third phase of the program the borrower receives the final installment of their loan, but no grant. Once a group has successfully completed the program, the Give Us Wings business coordinator helps them start their own self-sustaining village savings and loan that will continue to finance business development without financial support from Give Us Wings.
Nine of the groups are comprised of farmers. Many of them have chosen to use their grants and loans to buy or rent more land to till. Some people have hired oxen to plow their fields instead of doing it by hand. Others have used the funds to experiment with new crops.
The other seven groups are made up of business people. Many of these people have expanded their current business or started new businesses, like small restaurants, produce stands and small stores selling general merchandise.
Hundreds of families have already seen improvement in their income and the health of their children. Here are the stories of two families.
Judith is married and has 5 children. For years, she and her husband tried desperately to provide for their family through subsistence farming. Then, in April of 2014, Judith enrolled in Give Us Wings’ Building Business for Family Sustainability (BBFS) program. She received training in business management, savings and record-keeping. With the help of grants, loans and mentoring from Give Us Wings, Judith started a small business selling corn flour and millet grains. In the past 12 months she has increased her stock of grain from two bags of flour to 10 bags. She is now earning a profit of $33 dollars a week! Judith proudly reported to us, “Now I have been able to pay school fees for my children, I have been able to pay for medical care when they are sick and I have been able to provide food for my family. I have accomplished all this through my hard work and the help of the Building Businesses program. Thank you.”
Justine and her husband were subsistence farmers when they began working with Give Us Wings in 2007. The family of 9 barely survived on the little food they were able to grow. Then her husband passed away and Justine became the sole-provider for her family. They desperately needed a more reliable source of income. So Justine enrolled in the Give Us Wings Building Business for Family Sustainability program where she received business training, mentoring, grants and small loans to start her own business.
Now her life is improving, “I started the business training offered by Give Us Wings in April of 2014. They taught us which crops were the most profitable to plant and how to keep business records. The Business Coordinator decided that I was ready for the first installment of my loan in July 2014. With instruction from the Coordinator and the money from the loan and grant, I have boosted my smoked fish selling business. Because I have more capital to invest in my business, I can buy a whole basket of fish for less money and sell them for a higher profit. In little over a year, my income has increased from $1.09 per week to $4.38 per week. Now I can provide the basic needs of my family, I can buy clothing for my kids and pay their school fees.”