Assisting a Technical College in Lithuania
A PCV assigned to a business center in Lithuania is assisting the business program at the local technical college. Still new to her activity, she intends to offer support in a variety of ways. Her plans include lecturing on business management and marketing; helping to establish an internship program for the students; and organizing a college English club, locating U.S. pen pals to correspond with their Lithuanian counterparts.
Establishing a Junior Achievement Society in Fiji
The Junior Achievement Society in Fiji owes its beginnings to one Volunteer, who contacted the Society and organized the initial group as a secondary activity. The PCV extended for a year in order to test the feasibility of making Junior Achievement (JA) a part of the Peace Corps/Fiji program. Recognizing the merits of JA for youth development, Peace Corps/Fiji then assigned a Business Volunteer to work as a training officer, using JA materials to train other PCVs as well as local teachers and business people to conduct Junior Achievement programs throughout the country. By 1995, over 1,500 young people had participated in these programs.
Initiating a Women's Ranking System in Honduras
FINCA, the Foundation for International Community Assistance, emphasizes and promotes women's banks in developing countries, believing that grassroots development starts with women. Hearing a presentation at a Small Business Development workshop, a PCV in Honduras decided to introduce the concept to her community. She initiated a series of meetings, which resulted in a group of women organizing themselves to form a bank.
The PCV served as business advisor and liaison between the community and FINCA representatives. The women selected officers and members, drew up by-laws, and decided who should receive loans. In addition to the formation of a strong bank, the women's decision-making skills, self-esteem, and confidence thrived. In short, their lives had improved as much as their pocket books.
Making Drums in Jamaica
With a love of music and inspired by local calypso rhythms, a PCV assigned to teach agriculture to secondary students in Richmond, Jamaica, decided to try organizing a dance band among his students. Unfortunately, they had neither enough instruments nor money to buy them. Skilled in woodworking as well, the PCV decided to make the instruments. After trying his hand at making a guitar and a banjo, he engaged a group of his woodworking students to join him in making drums, several of which were later sold. Before he left Jamaica, he secured from the Ministry of Agriculture a workshop for five of the students to continue the project as a small enterprise. Now calling themselves "The Richmond Drum Makers," they were able to produce a variety of percussion instruments, selling them for about a quarter of the price of the local imports.
Oryanizing a Multi-Purpose Handicraft Center Tonga
On a remote island in Tonga, women were making beautiful handicrafts, but they had no place to display and sell their creations. Together with their PCV, representatives from local churches, and support from the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific, they designed a multipurpose Handicraft Center where the craft work could be marketed and skills could be shared. With additional funding from the Tonganese Central Planning Department and the Australian Government, they built the Handicraft Center and developed the cooperative. The PCV oversaw the establishment of the Center and processed the paperwork through the proper channels. Handicrafts proved to be a promising option in generating supplementary income for the entire community.
Processing Corn in Guatemala
During a regular town meeting called by the mayor, the community decided that it needed a corn grinding mill so that the women would not have to spend eight hours a day, every day, grinding corn for tortillas. The PCV assigned to this village realized that the community needed help in acquiring funding for the corn grinding mill.
She began by approaching several local agencies, none of which showed any interest in supporting an activity in such a remote part of the country. After receiving information about the Peace Corps Partnership Program, she organized group meetings to write the proposal for funding. With funding approved, the corn grinding mill was soon under construction.
Once operational, the corn grinding mill transformed the village. People now had time to establish home gardens, greatly improving the nutrition of all. Moreover, the corn grinding mill was so efficient that it was capable of grinding much more corn than the village needed. For a small fee, the villagers began to grind the corn of neighboring villages. Soon the mill was turned into a cooperative, generating income for the entire community. The activity was so successful that the PCV assisted another remote village to acquire its own corn grinding mill.
Producing Manioc Flour in Benin
The women of Darvolhove wanted to find a way to generate some income and to educate themselves about taking better care of their children. They decided to form a women's cooperative, fashioned after the men's cooperative, to organize their production of manioc flour into a small business.
Needing help finding funds to build a storage and meeting facility, they approached the PCV assigned to their village. The PCV began by serving as teacher to the group. She helped them set up a bank account to begin managing money and learning how small businesses work. With their assistance, she then prepared a proposal to secure funds from Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance program.
The project was funded, and construction of a three-room building began immediately, providing space to hold meetings and to store the manioc flour and tools. Using knowledge the PCV had taught them about money management, the women began tracking and saving their money. They also acquired new skills to make their production more efficient, soon becoming an example to other women in the area, as the Bobognon ("Working Together is Good") Cooperative.
Producing Quilts in Tunisia
Before joining the Peace Corps, one PCV couple had a successful quilting business in the United States. Their fascination with Tunisian carpet making and a concern about the limited opportunities for women living in rural Tunisia led them to initiate a self-sufficient income-generating quilt-making activity for Tunisian women, using skills they already had and enjoyed.
Securing funding with a grant from Save the Children, the couple engaged two local people to work with them and establish continuity. One served as an office advisor, the other as a sewing instructor.
Together, the four of them developed a culturally appropriate quiltmaking training program. The course covered quilting, basic business skills, bookkeeping, and literacy. Forty-eight women between the ages of 12 and 24 participated in the four-month training course, held at what came to be known as the Ouled Boughdir Quilt Making Center. The quilts produced by the Center gained a reputation for consistent high quality, and the activity was represented at a small-scale enterprise seminar in Cyprus.
Raising Rabbits in Benin
As is often the case in Peace Corps, a PCV science teacher in Benin found herself responsible for animal husbandry classes as well. Responding to her students' fascination with rabbits, she decided to have them try raising rabbits, learning how to care for them, and at the same time generating some income for the school by selling some of the rabbits they raised.
Once her students were sufficiently knowledgeable, she gave them complete responsibility for constructing the rabbit hutches, feeding, medicating, and controlling the rabbit breeding. Seeing a growing demand for rabbits, people in the surrounding villages also began to raise them, increasing the nutrition, income and self-sufficiency of the entire area.
Starting a Brick Factory in Paraguay
Learning of an improved brick-producing process, a PCV assigned to a village in Paraguay was convinced that the process could be introduced there, thus saving the villagers the expense of buying bricks in town. He held many meetings with his counterpart and community leaders discussing the problems, the approach, and the goals of such an activity.
Finally a town meeting was held where the tasks were delegated and a timeline outlined. The counterpart was to be responsible for investigating the types of equipment needed, while the PCV was to conduct a market survey for the sale of bricks. Other community leaders were to search for trainers, and determine the type and quality of raw materials needed. The timeline was drawn so that the factory would be operational before the PCV's close of service.
The activity received funding from Small Project Assistance, and the brick producing factory was completed on time. The bricks were of higher quality than those available in town and at half the cost, so that well-respected builders began to rely on these better bricks, generating new business for the community.
Supporting a Cashew Factory in Honduras
Following in the footsteps of a previous PCV is not easy; however, a dedicated PCV assigned to a small rural community in Honduras was able to take an established secondary activity and improve on it.
The previous PCV had secured a start-up loan for a cashew factory from a nonprofit organization based in Houston, Texas, called Pueblo to People, which supports cooperatives in Latin America producing handcrafts and agricultural products. Learning that the loan was being used to get the factory started, and that once production began, Pueblo to People planned to buy the cashews every two weeks, the new PCV decided to continue working with the sponsoring group to help make the factory a functioning, profitable business.
Once the factory was in operation, half the revenue was used to pay back the loan; the other half was divided among the women factory workers according to how much each had produced. The factory did so well that the loan was paid off in one year.
Soon the women realized that they not only were making a lot of money, but that by working together they were able to control the sale of precious cashew seeds because they held so much of the market. Through constant encouragement from the PCV, the women's level of confidence began to increase. Their management expertise grew with their bank accounts, until finally they no longer turned to the PCV for advice or decision making. This PCV had truly worked herself out of a job!
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