Burkina Faso is celebrating its 57th year of independence on August 5, 2017. The U.S. African Development Foundation has been investing in grassroots enterprises in Burkina Faso since 2008, and funded more than 50 different projects ranging from agricultural produce like vegetables and sesame, to textile production and livestock management. These programs have targeted remote rural cooperatives and women’s groups, increasing their incomes and strengthening their communities.
“Our model empowers communities in Burkina Faso to be sustainable, self-sufficient, and at the forefront of their own development. We believe in giving people the power to create community-driven solutions to community-wide problems," says C.D. Glin, President & CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF).
In communities like Alawone, banding together is a powerful way to increase incomes collectively. Alawone Livestock Union is a livestock cooperative that supports livestock herders, many of whom are women. In 2014, Alawone was awarded an organizational assistance grant and the investment provided training in veterinary care, cooperative management, financial literacy, and financial and administrative management. The grant also included Alawone members to access microfinance loans, allowing individuals to purchase cows and sheep and grow their herds. Each individual could take a loan of up to $970 which could buy two cows. Alawone members have completely reimbursed the initial round of loans and local interest and membership in Alawone has increased. The community now has a stable source of income and are seeing the benefits of a food-secure future.
“As the country of Burkina Faso becomes one year older, we are proud to continue our partnership with the U.S. African Development Foundation,” says Seydou Bouda, Ambassador of Burkina Faso to the United States. “The Burkinabé people have seen the improved household incomes, greater food security, and participatory model that USADF promotes in all their grants.”
Another community-led enterprise in Burkina Faso is the AFEPO Women Weavers Association. The women applied for a USADF grant in 2013 which was used to construct a weaving center, purchase additional weaving equipment, and provide training in financial management, and marketing techniques. With catalytic seed capital, members of AFEPO were able to transform the weaving center into a commercial enterprise. AFEPO can now take orders from foreign customers who have requested custom designs, requiring the ladies to read specific patterns and make measurements that require basic numeracy. Their new weaving center includes a showroom, expanded area for weaving and dying activities, a water pump, meeting hall, and office space. Sales revenue for the group increased threefold, while the total salary for members increased over 400 percent. USADF is proud to continue serving the people of Burkina Faso to build a strong foundation for local enterprise development.