It is 2021 and women still face significant challenges that hold them back from attaining their potential. Compared to men, women have less access to education and financial institutions, have fewer economic opportunities, face more challenges starting a business, are fewer in leadership positions, and feature less prominently in politics. Economic empowerment of women has been shown to foster gender equality, help women realise their rights, and improve economies. Essentially, when women and girls are empowered, the community is better for it. This is why women’s economic empowerment is an integral part of Propcom Mai-karfi’s strategy.
Propcom Mai-karfi’s poultry production and marketing intervention is focused on helping women acquire skills to transform their local chicken practices into viable businesses, thus, economically empowering them to become resilient to climate change and other shocks.
When Caroline Heniel, a Teacher in Demsa Community in Adamawa State, participated in Propcom Mai-karfi’s local chicken improved production (LoCIP) training, she never thought that over a year later her and a handful of like-minded women who met at the training would be empowered to the point of supporting their community. Sindam Machet cooperative, meaning ‘We are one’, was formed by Caroline and the other women with the primary aim of helping one another and their community. Caroline leads the cooperative and is helped by 20 other women officials; today, they are 250 member-strong and growing.
The decision to form a group started with ten women [at the training] who felt they could make an impact in their community. It gradually became a welcome idea for all the women.
The community health centre in Demsa LGA of Adamawa State has been in a deplorable state for as long Caroline can remember. The year was 2019 and it did not seem like anyone was going to do anything about it. This was where the community received medical services. It was, therefore, a shame that it had become a place where most people would avoid if they had a choice. Unfortunately, they did not and so continued to manage it with its leaky roof and lack of furnishings and other amenities.
For over two years, Propcom Mai-karfi has been training women on LoCIP. For Caroline and the other women, putting to practise knowledge from the training yielded and continues to yield results; their flock sizes increased, and their chickens were weightier than ever before. Since repairing the community centre was a goal shared by many, if not all, members of the cooperative, it was unsurprising that once they began generating income from their chickens, they decided to renovate it. Thus, ensuring that the community also benefitted from their success.
The motivation to start came as an aftermath of the training when we started seeing results from applying knowledge acquired. We discovered that from one chicken, we multiplied our flock size within a short period of time. We were able to sell and use the proceeds to support our families. We were also able to support other members of the group who did not have capital to start.
To fund the renovation project, the cooperative pooled resources within the group. Each member was tasked with selling one of their chickens and contributing between NGN500 and NGN1,000 from their proceeds to the project. Upon raising some funds, the project kicked off in August of 2019. However, due to the Pandemic and the ensuing lockdown in 2020, the project had to be put on hold. But, once the lockdown was lifted, work continued in earnest. According to Caroline, the Cooperative has so far disbursed over NGN100,000 to repair the clinic and make it conducive for both the users and service providers.
Although the women raised most of the funds, they were able to harness support from members of the community, including the community leader who contributed NGN5,000, and the ward heads who collectively gave NGN13,000 to the project. Many young men in the community also volunteered to provide labour for the project. Nevertheless, embarking on the project was not without challenges. Albeit all members agreed that the project was worthwhile and overdue, convincing all members to contribute was arduous as some members out rightly refused to chip in. Work continued nonetheless with the funds that had been raised.
We received support from the community leader and ward heads who made monetary contributions for the renovation. Also, the men in the community, especially the youth, helped to clear the bush and do some minor labour.
Even though there still remains work to be done, today, the community health centre is in a much better state and members of the community are pleased and happy to use it. The Cooperative is still raising funds to finish the repairs and to purchase basic furnishings and other necessary items for the centre. They hope to raise enough chickens to sell and raise the funds and are confident that they will soon have enough to commence the next phase of the repairs.
The community is very appreciative, and wherever they meet us they say, ‘thank you for what you have done at the clinic’. We feel very happy about it and encouraged to do more. This is our first project as a group. We are still making plans. We have identified the need for bedsheets and chairs for visitors, and we also want to buy benches, bedsheets, and any other need for the clinic. We are not yet a registered group but want to start the process this year.
The future looks promising for the Cooperative. They are working towards becoming a legally registered cooperative, which will make potential donors take them seriously. They are also looking forward to engaging in more community projects.
Since commencement of the LoCIP trainings, Propcom Mai-karfi has trained over 65,000 rural women across Northern Nigeria and counting. These women have collectively generated over NGN400 million in revenue.
The LoCIP training has really empowered us. The training helped us to know that chicken production is a good source of income, we are able to buy goats, cloths, food from the market. It has really helped us. Thank you Propcom Mai-karfi, we are very thankful for the support. – Charity Anthony Assistant Leader