Even as a social enterprise, we set new year's goals. In fact, not only do we set organizational goals, we share our personal resolutions within our team. After reflecting on 2020 and what we accomplished, this is what we're looking forward to the most in 2021.
1. Empowering 400+ women smallscale farmers
We have small beginnings but audacious goals. Two years ago, we launched with one cooperative and 15 women farmers. In 2020, we onboarded two more cooperatives and nearly 200 female smallholders. By the end of 2021, we plan to incorporate 4 more cooperatives and approximately 400 women into our program.
We started in Kafue District, south of Lusaka. We plan to expand southward into Southern Province and Mazabuka and Chilanga Districts. Why? Zambia's commercial centers are in Lusaka, the capital, and Ndola in the north. Ndola was once a bustling city and the heart of African copper mining. Zambia's Eastern Province has been home to several large USAID projects and even a Bill and Melinda Gates-funded Agricultural Technology Demo Center. As agronomic experts, we knew that Zambia's Southern Province is frequently hard hit by drought and prone to desertification. Considering these factors, we made the strategic decision to expand southward and cultivate women's empowerment there.
2. Transforming our agricultural extension
Agricultural extension is the process of transferring knowledge and technology to smallholders with the purpose of improving their livelihoods, productivity and food security. It has traditionally focused on agricultural techniques. It is oftentimes provided by government field workers or NGOs. Our extension focuses on climate-smart agricultural techniques for maize and legumes.
However, through our work, we have seen that farmer success - in particular, female farmer success - requires more than agricultural knowledge. We are transforming our monthly agricultural extension sessions to incorporate soft skills, such as financial literacy and survival in the face of domestic abuse. We have witnessed that our women farmers lack self-esteem and the financial know-how to save for income-producing agricultural assets. We have also seen that they cannot make independent financial decisions due to domestic violence. In order for our organization to succeed, we have to make sure our farmers succeed. That's why we decided to transform agricultural extension.
3. Integrating ICT into our operations and farmer data management
Not only are we innovating in the field of agricultural extension (no pun intended!), we constantly strive for innovation in our business model. We use technology to improve our farmers' productivity but also our organizational productivity. For example, internally, we use Airtable and Asana to streamline our processes, ensuring our farmers receive the most efficient services. Additionally, this year, we will incorporate a cloud-based tool to collect and track our farmer data, such as yields and loan repayments. It's 2021 and the pandemic has shown that we can survive in a virtual world.
Tell us, what are your goals for 2021?