Small Business Development helps empower women

Hammer Assists Village Business WomenHammer assists village business women.Hammer Simwinga directs rural development programs through his Zambian non-governmental organization, The Foundation for Wildlife and Habitat Conservation (FWHC). Since 1986, 35,000 people living in 65 villages near NLNP have improved quality of life with income increased 100% over poaching days.

Hammer empowers women who previously had no voice but now 68% of the individuals helped by FWHC are women who are building assets and have an increased role in the leadership of their villages and their futures. Due to the AIDS epidemic, there is a growing number of widows with children to raise. Now they have an opportunity to achieve ‘food assurance’, cloth themselves and their children and pay school fees. They are hardworking, thrifty and effective business women and the entire community benefits by their success.

Hammer is now expanding his successful work into new villages west of Mpika where Chiefs have invited his help to build economic alternatives to poaching so that they can welcome wildlife back into their depleted habitat.

The genesis of these programs is based on a revolving loan fund established by Dr. Delia and Mark Owens in their ground breaking work in North Luangwa in the 80’s and 90’s. Hammer has taken this loan program and refined and developed it to huge advantage.

A successful micro-loan program

Beekeepers with their apiariesBeekeepers with their apiaries

FWHC’s loan program installs small businesses that use locally available materials so that they are sustainable without constant input. Providing business and technical training to villagers, FWHC installs such businesses as Beekeepers who earn legal income while providing honey and bee’s wax to their village. Bees also support crop pollination. When disturbed by any nearby elephant infra-sound, bees have been observed chasing the elephants away stinging their sensitive ears – and the elephants don’t come back.

As elephant numbers increase there will be more conflicts with people. Planting chili peppers adjacent to crops also deters hungry elephants who take one munch of hot chilies and run away – never to return. The challenge is to then extend the chili barrier to the next field of crops – and the next – staying ahead of hungry elephants. Dried chilies also provide a cash crop for the farmer.

Men with oil pressMen with oil pressAdditional funds are being raised to install additional sunflower seed oil presses to provide a market for local farmers’ sunflower crops and cooking oil made right in the villages.

New fish farms will also be installed, as well as small livestock loans and a growing project for growing and drying mushrooms to eat and to sell.







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