AGENDA 2030 is AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc’s dream about beneficiary communities by year 2030. It is a dream about communities with high level of community development free from poverty. Our organization is deeply concerned with increasing poverty levels among rural inhabitants, particularly women, across sub-Saharan Africa following underutilization of locally available resources and opportunities. This results into unnecessary pressure to immigrate to other countries away from Africa and in particular to the developed world. AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc is determined to eliminate poverty and in so doing reverse those trends for the betterment of everyone involved because it can be done if locally available resources are effectively and efficiently utilized. Particularly important, following several years of hard work and networking, AGEN&AGEN-USA has managed to develop a “Grassroots Empowerment model” to provide permanent solution to the mentioned problem by year 2030, if up-scaling across Tanzania and subsequently across the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa is successful implemented. Specifically, AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc in collaboration with grassroots NGO partners, have been experimenting two microfinance grassroots empowerment models in Singida and Iringa regions of Tanzania since year 2011; lessons have improved the model whose up-scaling has started in Morogoro Tanzania since year 2015. Over 400 grassroots women entrepreneurs from living in Iringa, Morogoro and Singida regions are beneficiaries of such model. Using experience accumulated since year 2011, AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc managed to develop a model to address women’s financial needs for up-scaling across Tanzania before reaching out to other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The model was meant to enable AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc and likeminded institutions to reach out to disadvantaged people including women in Tanzania and across Sub-Saharan Africa to make them free from extreme poverty. This is further strengthened through lifelong collaboration with sub-Saharan inhabitants living in the diaspora. This model can be adopted by governments and other not-for-profit organizations to increase incomes of rural entrepreneurs sustainably and only within a short-time. More importantly, this model is in line with Universal Sustainable Development Goals 2030. Concomitant with that, AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc has been promoting collaboration between scholars and activists, of all colours and backgrounds, living in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere particularly North America. The overall long-term goal of agenda 2030 is a peaceful world whereby people of different backgrounds live peaceful in this small world of ours without necessarily migrating elsewhere.
Agenda 2030 serves as an innovative plan to gather resources and invest them in grassroots interventions in a sustainable manner. This has to go beyond traditional sources. In year 2011, the US government, through its Alumni Exchange Program, provided $25,000 that was used to kick start the intervention. The intervention has been sustained through members’ contribution, both in-kind in terms of expertise and volunteer time (worthy $25,000 per annum) and cash (averaging $1000 to $2000 per annum). More resources need to be devoted to upscale the model to other marginalized communities.
Sub-Saharan Africa experiences fast macro-economic development which has failed to create an impact to grassroots people particularly women in rural and remote areas. It is underscored here that the role of those grassroots people particularly women in feeding the economy, cannot be underestimated. For instance, over 90.4% of active Tanzanian women engage in agricultural activities, producing about 70% of the country’s food requirements. Similar situation exists in other Sub-Saharan countries. Particularly important and in relationship to the model, the women entrepreneurs have increase their incomes two to three times only within a year. Moreover, such an increase is equally experienced in a cumulative revolving fund for loaning purposes by 10% to 15% quarterly. This increase has led to an uplift of STD of living of the entrepreneurs and their families. Apart from provision of microloans (A few success stories can be accessed at AGEN’s official website: click here), the entrepreneurs save for a period of up to five years and then create a joint investment that is jointly owned through accumulated shares. Some think of purchasing oil processing machines, some of opening a day care centre and others think of investing in the transportation industry. AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc is determined to help the entrepreneurs implement these brilliant ideas within an aggressive market economy terrain.
The main objectives are to: 1) increase the amount of revolving fund by 100% so as to serve at least 800 women entrepreneurs annually; b) provide new women entrepreneurs with entrepreneurship training relevant to their context on annual basis; c) networking 15 women grassroots networks with at least 15 local and international potential partners and investors every three years; d) facilitate and guide the entrepreneurs to implement their joint investments which are relevant to their contexts; e)up-scaling the project in Tanzania and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa by year 2030; f) develop a customized curriculum on the model to be taught at all levels of education from primary school to university level.
We have created a platform that brings together dedicated scholars from across Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the globe including Tanzania, USA, Ethiopia, Kenya, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Liberia, South Africa, Mauritius, Rwanda, Eritrea, Zambia, Senegal, Japan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Republic of South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mexico, Burundi and India. The platform is composed of AGEN and AGEN-USA Inc which are two but one organization incorporated in both USA and Tanzania. This platform has been created so as to connect people in Sub-Saharan Africa and those in the diaspora to foster mutual and lifelong social and economic gains. The common denominator is that if grassroots people, particularly women, are empowered, living standards of both African diaspora and Africans living in Africa are going to be improved. Details on the platform can be accessed at www.agentz.org. Similarly, Tanzania has been selected for initial experimentation because it is a strategic country in Sub-Saharan Africa with relative peace and good democratic record (US Government Press Release on 5th November 2015), as compared to other Sub-Saharan countries in regions. A peaceful environment is important for further experimentation of our models in the rest of Tanzania and then up scaling to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.
The expected outputs include: a) Increased number grassroots communities benefitting from macro-economic gains currently experienced in Tanzania and the rest of Sub-Saharan African countries; b) increased quality of standards of living of grassroots people and women in particular across Tanzania and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa; c) increased networking among scholars from across the globe that channels their expertise directly to grassroots interventions in Tanzania and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa; d) increased number of beneficiaries. At least 200 women entrepreneurs to be added every year; e) increased collaboration of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and North America including Canada; f) reduction of unnecessary migration to developed countries.
The proposed timeline for this project is three years for up-scaling in Tanzania. Then the remaining 12 years will be used for up-scaling to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc. has well established grassroots partners cross Sub-Saharan Africa whose representatives have been learning some insights on the implementation of the model.
AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc. has started to implement an ambitious goal of transforming all of its interventions into a people centred enterprise so as to be sustainable. This follows successful creation of a grassroots empowerment model which has been adequately experimented for five years. This model has been implemented in collaboration with grassroots civil societies with nearly zero operating expenses. This model entices self-supervision by the women’s groups and networks. Self-supervision is supplemented by comprehensive monthly supervisory visits from AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc’s experienced volunteers. Mobile phone services are used for consultation whenever women entrepreneurs need any assistance from AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc staff. The model has been improved mainly with lessons from interventions in Iringa. Specifically, an initial capital of $4000 was deposited into a cumulative revolving fund at the end of year 2011 so as to be used for provision of microcredit to women entrepreneurs. Currently, the cumulative fund has increased to approximate $20,000. Microcredit worthy $50,000 has been dispatched to 195 entrepreneurs. The microcredits have a multiplier effect in that an entrepreneurs receiving only $100 generates a profit which is 3 to 4 times the loan given (i.e. $300). The shortcomings of the intervention in Singida have equally been used to improve the model. As it was the case with Singida, a grant worthy $4000 was deposited to a cumulative fund. There, the women were give less decision making power. Instead, the power was vested into an executive committee of their network. Although the model, initially appeared to be growing faster than the one in Iringa, it later on became slower and gradually needed close monitoring from AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc. However, the women in Iringa became less and less dependent on AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc. Subsequently, the women only consulted AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc only when they faced unfamiliar situation likely to be arising from the forces in the market. Simply put, important lessons as well as weaknesses experienced in the Singida experiment were merged with important lessons from the Iringa experiment to improve the Grassroots Empowerment Model. The improved model has been implemented in Morogoro for over a year as part of up-scaling initiative to other regions in Tanzania.
In view of that, funding is being sought from individuals, global not-for-profit donors and investors from diaspora’s associations for up-scaling and investing. The funds from diaspora are invested directly in a cumulative revolving fund for them to be repaid back. Here, funds from diaspora associations are paid with 5% or more profit. Diaspora funds cannot be used for up-scaling purpose. This initiative can equally be applied to any interested people who are dedicated to helping grassroots people in Africa.
As far as international donors and government agencies are concerned, AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc creates lifelong partnership with them by ensuring the best utilization of their funds both for the cumulative fund and for up-scaling of interventions so as to reach out to more grassroots entrepreneurs in Tanzania and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, these funds are equally used to facilitate and cultivate lifelong collaboration among grassroots people themselves and between people in the diaspora and the grassroots entrepreneurs in Africa.
Funds from international donors are expected to play a critical role of up-scaling within a country and internationally. They are further expected to strengthen collaboration between people in the diaspora and those living in Africa. The approximate budget for up scaling in Tanzania is $100,000 per annum (benefitting at least 1000 entrepreneurs in two regions) totalling to $300,000 for three years. For up-scaling in other sub-Saharan countries, the approximate budget is $300,000 per annum per country. However, government funding will only be used for up-scaling within a particular country and not beyond.
Individuals and African Diaspora from across the globe can invest any amount of funds into a cumulative revolving fund to be used for microcredit. The cumulative revolving fund generates an interest of 10% to 15% every four months. AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc. expects to use not more that 5% of accumulated interest for operational expenses. The operational expenses are meant to ensure that the funds are monitored and they are returned to the diaspora and individuals with a small interest after a year of being loaned to the entrepreneurs. This arrangement is flexible depending on investors’ needs and interests.
Agenda 2030 envisions empowered marginalized communities that fully utilize locally available resources and opportunities following AGEN&AGEN-USA Inc’s interventions. In that world, migration trends are reversed and instead people utilize locally available resources. Similarly, social networks are created to encourage people in the diaspora to return and successful settle to their countries of origin. In so doing, a peaceful and enjoyable world for everyone is created and sustained without necessarily migrating to other countries for survival.