March 11 marks one year since COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic. The year 2020 has been tremendously challenging. In Cameroon, GivHOPE Africa strived to make life easier for the poor, the youths and the elderly persons that were more vulnerable to the negative effects of the corona virus pandemic than other Cameroonians. Imagination, resilience and creativity were implemented to bring forth remarkable outcomes to these target groups.
On April 11, 2020 after several concertation meetings with the traditional rulers and the administrative authorities of the poorest and overcrowded neighborhoods in Yaoundé, Phase I of the fight against hunger during the pandemic was launched through awareness and sensitization campaigns and food bank where more than 1000 households in 28 neighborhoods, including Nkolnyada, Azengue, Nkolbikok, Oyom Abang, Nkolso’o, Messa Administrative and Mokolo 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 received perishable food items composed of rice, sardines, tomatoes, salt, cooking oil and materials for hygiene such as soaps, gels and clothes worth roughly 5,000$.
The food bank toured Yaoundé made a U turn in Badounga, Tonga, the West region to install Shann’Ze a newly created Focal Point where some foodstuffs were handed over to the population.
The tour lasted for 3 months and on July 14, 2020, Phase II of this initiative No One Should Go Hungry during COVID-19 Lifespan kicked off with more than 80 women and 20 youths selected to start small businesses or to revamp those lost due to the pandemic through grants (Small amounts for those who cannot pay back) and loans without interest for others from GivHOPE Africa. This was not big-dollar investments but small scale income generating activities such as multimedia materials repair or sale, grocery, fruit, fast food, street restaurant and farming; but the sense of entrepreneurship, empowerment, ownership and innovation displayed by the owners of these businesses had an overwhelmed impact on their morale that inspired 60 other small businessmen and women to join. The interesting innovation was that at one point during the course of each project implementation and depending on the amount of the loan, let’s say from 50,000 Cameroonian francs and above, each client was to reimburse so that others benefited from it and once you reimbursed, you were eligible for a higher amount and you could keep borrowing as you went and your amount kept increasing as well. While diversifying their activities, some brave ladies moved from 25,000 to 400,000 Cameroonian francs and today they can easily care for themselves and their children (Education, health and subsistence).
Through the Phase II of No One Should Go Hungry during the Covid-19 Livespan, GivHOPE Africa’s goal aimed at building a sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery for these vulnerable groups and their families. Before the pandemic, women and the youths already struggle to make ends meet because those who undertake private businesses hardly have local bank loans for their small businesses despite their highly-entrepreneurship and management skills. The pandemic has rather added new challenges for their enterprises and GivHOPE Africa Covid relief stimulus gave them new hope. Mr. Eloundou, a “buyam salam” meaning food retailer and a barber has expanded his operations and grew its employee base because GivHOPE helped him curb the loan limit constraints.
“Eloundou Georges has been a roll-model to many youths like him and has changed so many lives in his neighborhood, especially at a time when the economy combined with the sociopolitical and sanitary crises due to the covid-19 pandemic have contracted in many ways” said Chief Biloa Marie-Therese, his traditional Ruler and backer. “Georges is a game changer and through his experience and entrepreneurship, we expect that many more lives will be impacted positively”
The traditional rulers and GivHOPE are capitalizing on the success of this project to forge pathways to these small scale business owners regardless of the pandemic effects to get back on their feet in order to become real economic agents that can compete with other peers nationwide.
GivHOPE Africa wants to reinforce through capacity building training on how to manage a micro project in order to build the borrowing capacities to more at ease money borrowing power and techniques of its target groups. Most of the times, women and youths do not have access to loan because they don’t know how to mount good bankable projects and this is why GivHOPE strives to reinforce their management and entrepreneurship skills. The follow-up project Improving the Living Conditions of Women and their Families during Covid-19 was implemented in a bid to leaning on the advantages of Phase II to improve the living conditions of women and their families, including their communities through its multiplier effects.
GivHOPE Africa plan of action 2021/2022 ambitions to train and give loans to 100 elderly people mostly women for small businesses and 50 youths to start new income generating activities or boost the existing ones. By the end of 2022, we foresee faster growth and more income to more than 500 women and youths as they become small and medium seize entrepreneurs, employing more youths and by so doing resolving joblessness among them. Many types of additional businesses and communities might take advantage of this opportunity by settling around, including schools, health care centers, toilets, restaurants, shops, multimedia supplies, hair dressing, barber shops, construction equipments, etc. This is the significant multiplier effect we were looking for in Phase II: Loans have helped spur the local economies leading to improved livelihoods of the communities. In addition, many youths are employed, thus busy and think less about stealing or committing burgling to make ends meet; hence reducing crime and drug abuse cases and improving dialog between the traditional rulers, themselves and their population.
We also plan to henceforth cover more aggressively the North America (Washington, DC area and Atlanta) and the West Africa, Abidjan within the framework of the project “Friends Helping Friends during Tough Times”. The project was launched in Atlanta in February at Atlanta Mission: Ending Homelessness, DC Dream Center, SE of DC and Abidjan, Yopougon in March 2021 where GivHOPE handed over boxes, cases, bags, jars, bottles, cartons and varieties of cans perishable food and snack items to vulnerable women and girls and grants to the youths. From now on, about 40% of our funding will be allocated to this project.
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«Véronique Owoua and Béatrice Mogue (A blind lady) both traders took a loan of 600,000 Cameroonian francs ($1,100.91) to expand and diversify their businesses. “This is the biggest loan I’ve ever taken,” says Mrs. Veronique and it helps to diversify and expand my business; I now do whole sale of food items and the unsold ones I cook before selling in the evenings. This brings me more income and I am able to care for my children and myself.”
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