We have prepared new investees and investment offerings to qualified businesses – they came for our three trainings and have good business ideas. Their performance is encouraging and we hope they will do very well in some months to come.
The use of the office space we secured has also proved very helpful and we have people coming all times to be a part of our investment programme. We are preparing to paste a huge banner to advertise our presence at the location so we can be found more clearly.
In this month, visits were made to our business people 3 to 5 times each to see how their businesses are doing. This is to check on their progress and also to make sure we are supporting them as best we can. We always want to assist our business people so we call them and visit them so we can try to build a relationship and a platform where they can trust us and tell us their problems so we can see how we can at all times support them.
We have had some unpleasantries we wish to work on day in and day out. We look to suggestions from people and compare our experiences to see how best we can create a better service for our businesspeople and our potential businesspeople. We also have commendation from other people who have tested our services and want to work with us again. Indeed is it a success story for us. They still need investment from us to keep expanding their businesses.
This month marks the month in which we had to work on improving the quality of our service and vetting new people to offer investment to. Still having the Director in the country, we sorted out a better way to help people with our services thus our training packs and tools plus our investment plans. We deliberated into details how best we could make things easier for interested investees to access our support while not pressuring them to work with us.
Going forward, we feel we are using the right tools and methods to pass the message across to lots of people around our work jurisdiction. This includes the difference between microfinance, loans and microinvestment or investment in general. No other non-profit offers what we offer to our investees in Ghana that we are aware of. We are purely interested in the growth of the people, the small business holders to get big or to be able to make tangible profit to cater for their life situations.
Most awareness topics we create in our business training session are as follows: cash flow, monthly returns, annual returns, bookkeeping, customer retention, savings and many others. We also help them understand that even as a businessman or a businesswoman you need to pay yourself and that’s one of the ways to growing your business and better and achieve greatness.
We are working to have a great standard for the organisation that can run for a long time and be sustainable in terms of expanding and making us grow in all business aspects. We are geared to continue developing more business training tool packs and investing in as many potential businesses as we can.
In this month of March we were able train about 50 people for three training sessions both practical and theory and we have invested in a further 9 people. We were able to meet our old investees to have further training with them to keep them updated. This month, we have had people come to our office to learn and know more about our services. The message about how investment works is going down quite well and we still hope to do more for lay people to get the education about investment. We look forward to train more business people to help them with the requisite knowledge needed to run a successful business.
February sped past due to preparations to introduce the new expansion of the Foundation’s new development: the Trade To Aid Toolbox. At the end of the month, we met with new Trainers who will be be working with us to plan and deliver training sessions, give business support and to monitor our investments.
Our starting aim with the T2A Toolbox is to visit three new communities to do training and investment rounds. To test the Toolbox, we are training up three new Trainers who are going to handle the selected communities we are entering. They will be responsible for all the interactions with our investees making sure they keep their books accurately, offering any business support they need and ensuring they pay dividends correctly. They will also offer training sessions with them in future offering additional business education to their businesses.
Our Trainers have excellent understanding of the investment system and our investment modules. Their work has being very impressive based on the limited time they have been working with the T2A Toolbox.
We’ve also made a lot of changes to the contents of our training and also the materials we use to vet potential investees. We have also translated our training videos from English to Twi, a major local Ghanaian language, to make our training sessions better meeting both the literate and illiterate standard. This is, so far, proving much smoother and very successful.
More training sessions will be offered to people who have been to our first sessions and we’ve already made four new investments in the first week of March, with more to come.
Trade To Aid started as a prong of Gardiner Foundation with the aim to better small businesses in rural Ghana. The initiative seeks to train businesspeople with the knowledge needed to maximise profit as they grow in business year after year and supporting them with micro-investment to facilitate growth.
We currently have micro-investments in 16 businesses in Teiman, a little village outside Accra, Ghana. Some of the businesses are barbering shops, hair beauty salons, tailors, grocery shops, printing press just to mention a few.
To start, we visited a lot of businesses to advertise the opportunities we wanted to offer them and our micro-investment aspect. We trained a couple of businessmen and businesswomen on the basics of how to keep books, cash flow, profit and loss, customer retention and other relevant topics in business. We provided certificate of participation for the attendees and also awarded to the people we selected to invest in.
So far, we have performed two training rounds. During the training sessions we make sure everything we are teaching the attendees is well understood. We teach them the real practical issues businesses confront every single day. We have a very simplified business game that explains the cycle of business and how to classify whether outgoing money is personal expenditure (eg school fees) or a business expense (eg staff salaries).
We also provide ledger books for our investees to keep their daily revenue and expenses which helps them to keep a good record of their business all month and year round. Our project coordinator, who resides in the region, supports them and caters for any situations that occur on the ground day in and day out with our investees. Our investees pay dividends through a flexible shared percentage negotiated between the project coordinator and the investee. On average, our share is 15-25%. We also have a pre-agreed buyout clause which allows the investee to buy back our share at anytime. All our profits are reinvested in other local businesses, with the aim to keep all dividend payments within the local areas where they originated.
Although there have been numerous challenges and difficulties to get to where we are now, from our first investment rounds we now have the experience to improve our training and continue to grow our micro-investment programme, including expanding to new areas within Ghana.
Comment from our investee
Michael Mottey, owner of printing press company said: “Trade to Aid is a company I don’t regret [working with] and I will never regret joining because they have been my business backbone since they came to Ghana. Their services [are] second to none, their [investment] terms for those they have helped is so flexible and convenient. If am given the platform to rate I will personally give them five star.
All I wish is that they can extend their services to other regions in Ghana because [there are] Ghanaians who have suffered from others for too long and waiting patiently for Trade to Aid”.
Other comments compared our flexible our investment terms are in comparison to micro-finance options and how our customer welfare policies are second to none.
A new UNICEF report marks World Water Day with a grim warning that one in four children will live with water scarcity by 2040.
The report, Thirsting for a Future: Water and Children in a Changing Climate, was published in March of this year. It predicts that as the demand for water increases through population growth as well as increases in agricultural and industrial needs for water, water stress and a strain on water supplies will ensue.
The result is that in just over twenty years some 600 million children – one in four across the world – will be living in areas of extreme water stress and with high competition for water. Inevitably, the more disadvantaged will suffer the most and conflict can also disrupt access to safe drinking water, as well as droughts and climate change.
The Guardian reports that 36 countries across the world are suffering from a very high level of water stress. Conflict and drought in Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen has brought water scarcity to deadly levels. In Ethiopia UNICEF says nine million people will be without safe drinking water this year, in the other four countries 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of malnutrition.
There is progress being made, however, and the report highlights solutions, policy responses and case studies from UNICEF’s work safeguarding children’s access to safe water and sanitation.
In particular, addressing climate change will stop further areas suffering from drought or flooding that can bring about a shortage of safe drinking water. Sustainable growth in cities and industry is needed to maintain water supplies and not create an additional strain on resources.
Sustainable growth is one of the main aims of the Gardiner Foundation, where we believe that microinvestment in local businesses can sustainably lift individuals, families and communities out of poverty. Some of these businesses involve innovative solutions to the greatest threats facing the community, including water scarcity and competition.
The European commissioner for international cooperation and development says we are in “challenging times” and that “The global commitment to the sustainable development goals – to climate action, to solidarity – this seems to be wavering globally.”
But EU member states signed a new development consensus last week that reaffirms their commitment and agrees a direction and structure for the development goals going forward.
With the United States withdrawing their support from the Paris Agreement and other threats to strategic and unified action on climate change the “wavering” description of global commitment does seem accurate.
The Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2016 and appears to have been widely misunderstood. Each country sets its own targets relating to action on climate change – these are known as “nationally determined contributions”. These should contribute to the overall goal of capping global warming at 2C above pre-industrial levels. The targets are due to start in 2020 and there is nothing legal or binding about the undertakings and no repercussions if they are not met.
So the agreement relies strongly on international co-operation and a shared understanding of the importance of limiting climate change. An international “peer pressure” of public opinion is also important. Ordinary citizens can help to keep the Paris Agreement on the agenda of politicians and policymakers by sharing their concerns and reminding representatives that this is an issue people care about.
These threats to the agreement, and against global action on climate change, may well renew interest among the public and resolve among governments – as this new EU consensus shows. It also shows that the initial agreement, though long-debated, is only the beginning. The Paris Agreement needs support from governments, voluntary organisations and the public if it is to achieve its essential aims.
“Eradicating poverty remains the greatest global challenge,” says Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed.
Ms Mohammed was speaking to the UN Economic and Social Forum earlier in May. “Addressing poverty, inequality, climate change, food insecurity and a sluggish and unpredictable global economy requires integrated responses and engagement by all actors,” she continued.
The eradication of poverty is the first of the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the UN for 2030. The follow-up to the Millennium goals they provide a comprehensive and interlinked blueprint and ambition for nations to meet by 2030.
The Sustainable Development Goals are seventeen goals that include zero hunger, gender equality, sustainable cities and communities, quality education and many more. The interwoven nature of the goals is something we are particularly interested in here at the Gardiner Foundation.
We believe that sustainable growth is best achieved by self-employed and entrepreneurial individuals building businesses that will raise them, their family and their community out of poverty while also contributing to the national economy.
Freed from poverty there is better access to healthcare and education, providing more jobs and investment. Infrastructure can be improved, there is more engagement in civic life. Jobs that are created are done so by the people in the community, tackling the problems faced in that community such as access to affordable and clean energy. Social inequality is reduced and sustainable communities emerge.
This is the sort of change that eradicating poverty can achieve, a knock-on effect that will make all other challenges that much easier to tackle. And it is a change that the Gardiner Foundation is committed to being part of.
The fight against malaria, Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases is being crowdsourced thanks to a new initiative by the United Nations. The UN Environment Programme has launched the platform with its partners in the hopes of finally putting an end to nearly 3 million deaths each year from these diseases.
The Global Mosquito Alert is a collaboration that will allow people on the ground to share information and observations. This data can then be accessed in real time by governments, medical organisations, voluntary organisations, policymakers and scientists. When added to existing medical databases, government sources and public health records it should provide the most complete picture of the effects of mosquitos across the world.
The World Health Organisation says that mosquitos cause up to 500 million medical cases a year and hails the Global Mosquito Alert as “the first platform dedicated to citizen science techniques to tackle the monitoring of mosquito populations.”
Harnessing the power of cloud computing and big data along with the observations and participation of those on the ground is an exciting move forward in tackling malaria and other diseases. This sort of network has the potential to be used in other situations too. Real-time data is essential for bigger agencies to be able to act swiftly and with the biggest impact.
It’s an exciting development of which there will hopefully be more to come. The Gardiner Foundation is particularly interested in the ways that citizens can use entrepreneurial solutions to tackle the biggest issues in their communities and we are always looking at ways we can support that growth.
Grassroots activists who campaign against climate change, expose corruption or fight against illegal activities and land grabbing, are at growing risk of being killed, attacked and threatened over their work.
To many people they are heroes and defenders but these activists are being silenced in increasing numbers. Over 120 people have been killed in Honduras since 2010, according to Global Witness, who dubbed it the deadliest country in the world for environmental activism.
In 2015 it was Brazil where the most deaths occurred, with 50. The majority were fighting illegal logging in the Amazon. In the Phillipines 33 people were killed, 26 in Colombia. Those opposing mining operations were most likely to be killed. Almost 40% of those killed were indigenous people.
Aside from murder there are regular kidnappings, injuries and threats against those who stand up for human and environmental rights. Amnesty International is a well known charity supporting people attacked by governments for their activism, as well working to preserve human rights worldwide.
Global Witness carries out investigations, campaigns for transparency, and reports on environmental and human rights abuses. A recent moving article talks about the murder of Cambodian activist Chut Wutty, which was the catalyst for collecting annual statistics on the subject. Elsewhere, Sophia Pickles writes about how she was threatened with arrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo for exposing corruption over conflict minerals – another method of silencing activists.
Those standing up for human and environmental rights and who challenge illegal or corrupt practices should never be in fear for their life. But it is happening all too often and the Gardiner Foundation wants to do its part in recognising the dangerous and important work that these activists carry out on behalf of people all over the world.
A few weeks ago we looked at climate change work done by the Elders, a group of independent global leaders that was founded by Nelson Mandela. There were calls for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and now one of their members, Mary Robinson, is following up with a focus on fact- and evidence-based science to determine the global policy agenda on climate change and support for scientists as they stand against critics and cynics in politics and the media.
Robinson is a former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In a recent article she says, “I speak a lot about the importance of climate justice – that it is unacceptable for the poorest, most vulnerable people on the planet to suffer the most from climate change when they have done the least to cause it.”
While climate change deniers encourage scepticism the parts of the world where climate change can be seen in full and devastating force are growing. Too often it is the poorest members of society that are the most vulnerable.
Whether it is flooding in Bangladesh or famine in sub-Saharan Africa there are increasing millions of people directly affected by climate change. As Robinson says above, it disproportionately affects the poorest people whose housing, healthcare, education and infrastructure is already at risk. When floods wipe out their homes or famine destroys their business there is nothing to fall back on.
Robinson encourages us to put pressure on our governments to stand by the Paris Agreement which set important goals for action on climate change and to support the activists, movements and scientists that are leading the fight against it. At the Gardiner Foundation we are taking that message to heart and will be sharing and highlighting the work done in tackling climate change.