An entrepreneurial spirit can create momentum for vulnerable communities.
Comfort Kissiwaa is a Ghanaian mother of five, wife, farmer—and now the manager of a community bank and champion of her community—thanks to her participation in The Hunger Project’s local ownership initiatives.
With a small loan and women’s empowerment training, Comfort was able to expand her farming business and increase her annual income from $110 to more than $750, a 600% increase.
“Local ownership puts control in the hands of the community. ”
Her success embodies the principles and advantages of local ownership—an approach that recognizes its efficacy, particularly for food security.
Giving communities control
Local ownership puts control in the hands of the community to define their own goals, allocate resources and implement their own programs.
This strategy is based on the recognition that development cannot be imposed—the best kind of development starts within a community. Small loans, technical training or education—all forms of local ownership that organizations such as the Hunger Project and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have started to utilize—give people access to the skills, resources and knowledge necessary to grow, while also ensuring that they maintain the power and responsibility to identify their goals, decide how the skills and resources are applied, be the agent of their own change and even assess their own success.
The virtue of these local ownership programs can be found in their record of sustainability and efficiency. They capitalize on people’s innate entrepreneurial spirit so they continue to utilize the resources and skills provided.
“Comfort leveraged the skills and funds provided to transform her subsistence farm into a small business.”
Ensuring affordable food
This strategy is especially important when trying to expand food security. Hunger can be alleviated by providing direct food aid, but local ownership programs can create consistent access to food so that aid is no longer necessary.
By providing training to expand agricultural production, help develop productive skills or provide a small loan, local ownership programs can create a reliable income to ensure food will be affordable.
WFP, for example, has tapped into this power of local ownership through many of its programs, including food-for-work, food for training, and empowerment of small farmers through its Purchase for Progress initiative.
As Comfort’s story demonstrates, local solutions have the power to not only improve food security efficiently, but also to create exponential momentum for development in a number of directions such as health, gender equality, and education.
This article first appeared on the World Food Program USA blog and was republished with permission.