Self Help Africa - A vision of a rural Africa free from hunger and poverty

By Carmen James

06 Feb 19

Self Help Africa specialises in supporting agriculture and enterprise development projects in sub-Saharan Africa. The organisation, which has been operating for more than 30 years, supports rural poor households to grow more, earn more, and access new markets for the crops that they grow on their land.

Self Help Africa is a ‘pro-profit non-profit’ - they focus on helping smallholder farmers across Africa to increase the profitability of their enterprises. Their work mainly involves supporting farmers inside the farm gate; helping smallholders to both increase and diversify their production. For decades, this work has been inseparable from their efforts to incubate and support farmer cooperative development. The co-op is the basic building block for agri-business - through it, farmers can store, purchase in bulk, sell at better prices and access advice.

In order to sustainably improve their livelihoods, smallholder farmers need to increase their productivity, but they also need to find markets for their surplus. That’s why Self Help Africa work with the private sector to remove obstacles that prevent farmers from accessing these markets for their produce.

There is enormous potential for growing smallholder farming in Africa by connecting farmers with markets in a way that is beneficial for everyone. Africa’s private agribusiness sector is estimated to be worth about $280bn currently, with the right investment and support, it’s estimated that it can grow to over $1 trillion within two decades.

For a ‘pro-profit non-profit’ organisation like Self Help Africa, this is an exciting space in which to work. Within the three decades, their innovative approach has lifted millions out of poverty, and has supported the creation of countless small agribusinesses to become more profitable, increase productivity, diversify product lines and access new markets.

Funds raised through Give2Grow will support Self Help Africa’s work with 1,000 farming households in Teso, so that they can restore their small farms, grow more crops and increase their incomes. From 15th February-15th May 2019, all public donations to Give2Grow will be doubled by the UK government. With the doubling of donations by the UK government, Self Help Africa is seeking to raise at least £260,000 through Give2Grow to support families – particularly women and young people - to diversify their crops, and grow more and better food, to both feed their families and earn an income. Self Help Africa will run a series of fundraising and awareness-raising activities in Shropshire, London and Belfast. Funds that are raised through the Give2Grow appeal will be invested in farmer training, in the introduction of new high value crops, in livestock rearing, and in the creation of community-run village savings and loans groups. More information is available on their website at www.selfhelpafrica.org/give2grow 

We put a couple of questions to Self Help Africa:

1.    How did you discover Wonderful?

Self Help Africa discovered Wonderful accidentally while researching good online fundraising platforms for one of our events, the London Ballroom Battles. This event entailed 28 dancers training for 6 weeks (4 hours a week) to learn a new dance routine while fundraising for Self Help Africa.

The training and fundraising all culminated in a grand show in front of a 500-strong audience in Marylebone in London.

2.    Did you have any initial reservations about the platform? If so, what are they and have they since been overcome?

Yes, we were concerned that nobody had heard of Wonderful and that donors to the cause would not use it. To overcome this, we spent a lot of time ensuring that all of our fundraisers had ready text and links to insert into appeal emails and texts. We also set up each dancer’s platform on Wonderful ourselves to ensure that they were consistent and were completed timeously.

3.    What made you decide to become a Wonderful charity?

The main, and most obvious reason is that Wonderful do not take any fees for the service. This really made it much easier to “sell” the platform to our fundraisers and donors and enabled us to take full advantage of the efforts made by our dancers!

4.    How has Wonderful helped your charity in particular?

Wonderful is incredibly easy to use and administer. 

5.    Tell us about a particular appeal or fundraising page that is worthy of mention.

We have set up a fundraising page to support our latest campaign; Give2Grow in Uganda, where the UK government will double all public donations, including those made through the Wonderful site. 

6.    If we limited you to just three words to describe Wonderful, what would they be?

Easy-to-use, free, wonderful! 

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