Transitioning From Subsistence to Entrepreneurship

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This is the first in a three-part series about the Africa Sustainable Development Council.

His name says it all. The translation of Salibo Some, the Director of the Africa Sustainable Development Council (ASUDEC) in Burkina Faso, means “What will you leave behind from this life?” For Dr. Some, that means making ASUDEC into a “laboratory for development in Africa,” and “helping farmers find better ways of thinking and doing” by promoting education—some 50 percent of adult farmers can’t read or write; strengthening the socio-economic resiliency of vulnerable groups—at least 70 percent of the farmers in Burkina are women, with little access to land tenure or extension services; and finding ways to produce food while preserving the environment.

By working with communities, ASUDEC is building trust among farmers and having success. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

ASUDEC “helps the poor transition from subsistence to entrepreneurship,” not through handouts, but through integrating livestock with crop production so people not only have chickens and goats (to sell in times of need), but eggs and milk to sell along with okra, African eggplant, maize, cucumbers, and other crops that were grown with composted manure as fertilizer. ASUDEC is also helping facilitate small loans from a microcredit agency so that farmers can buy things like easy to use and inexpensive Kick Start pumps that help irrigate crops, during the dry season, allowing for year-long crop production.

ASUDEC has often used trial and error to test out some of their innovations—for example a project that gifted chickens and coops to families had to be restructured because instead of raising poultry many people were using the houses intended for raising eggs as bedrooms. Today, the farmers have to pay back not only the costs of construction, but they have to identify other people in the community to invest in by loaning them the money to build their chicken house or corral for goats. By working with communities, they’re building trust among farmers and having success. Farmers outside of Ouagadougou now have access to a market to sell their surplus and families are sending their girls to school, buying bicycles, and improving their nutrition.

And they’re giving youth and street children the opportunity to learn new skills that will help keep them in their villages, including aquaculture,  raising livestock, agroforestry, and mechanics and repair work. The microcredit loans ASUDEC helps make available are giving women the funds needed to start restaurants and other small businesses. “We’re helping the poor transition from subsistence to entrepreneurship,” says Some.

Stay tuned for more on ASUDEC.

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