I simply can't find the right words but, I am humbly asking humanity as a whole, to help me leave a mark on the ever-resurgent grip of poverty where I live, by the time I die.
Specifically, I am requesting you to help me create only one lasting solution to the cycle of poverty in my region, in my remaining time on earth.
What this is all about:
I live in a part of the world where poverty is just rife, as I once wrote in the British newspaper The Guardian, in January of 2020.
For me personally, I come from quite a rugged background, and have had more than a fair share of chronic poverty, but I wouldn’t like even those who will come after me to also face the world exactly the same way.
I also believe the only way global poverty can end, is by putting the extreme poor directly in charge of ending extreme poverty.
That is also just what I meant in another article that I wrote here.
I am requesting humanity as a whole, to help me create only one lasting solution to the cycle of poverty in my region. Please be the reason I will leave behind an unlikely solution, by an unlikely creator i.e. myself, and in an unlikely part of the planet, by the time I am gone.
Please see "my intended solution" below. To see how you can help, including through Employee Workplace Giving & Corporate Matching, see the phrase 'How You Can help' at the very bottom.
My name is Anthony, a farmer in Namisita, a village in a remote part of Kamuli, in eastern Uganda. Like most people here, I have spent most of my life in chronic poverty, but whenever I look at the level of poverty in our region as a whole, something tells me I just must do something to change this, in my remaining lifetime.
I am also founder of the UCF, a nonprofit social enterprise that aims to end extreme poverty.
Note: this fundraiser is a rerun of my other campaign that fell far short of its goal after being online for more than a year (March 2020 - Aug 2021), yet I had tried to recruit collaborators for the work described in that campaign from around the same time the UN Global Goals were launched in 2015.
What worries me the most:
Extreme poverty is quickly becoming a problem of only one part of the world: Sub Saharan Africa.
One pre-pandemic projection by the World Bank (in 2018) indicated that, by 2030, over 90% of the world’s extreme poor (400m+) will live in Sub Saharan Africa. Moreover, Sub Saharan African poverty itself isn’t created equal. It is tougher in given regions, and I happen to be living in one of its hotspots.
My country Uganda is one of the ten poorest countries in Sub Saharan Africa, and is among the 5 poorest countries worldwide, by GDP Per Capita. Even in Uganda itself, my region Kamuli and Buyende (or Busoga as a whole) is also arguably the most miserable, if you ask anyone who knows this place well.
As someone who has spent the biggest part of my life in chronic poverty, this surely worries me.
What I want to change:
The absence of reliable markets for our produce is the single biggest challenge that keeps every rural smallholder farmer in our region in extreme poverty. Farmers have no market linkages beyond village level, yet everyone is very poor, and no local demand exists within the poor communities themselves.
This not only guarantees incomes below the poverty line, but also means, an already impoverished farmer can’t produce beyond a certain point, and can’t scale. It is also the one thing that makes it pretty hard for people like us to rebuild post COVID-19.
It is also worth noting that, countless antipoverty programs have come and gone, all of them with the goal of lifting rural poor farmers in our region from extreme poverty, but all of them have only repeated the same thing: providing rural poor farmers with improved seed; fertilizers, and training -- not a lasting solution to what comes thereafter (i.e., market access at harvest).
If addressed, many farmers would indeed be able to turn into more productive citizens who are capable of escaping extreme poverty in a self-sustaining way.
The intended solution:
My intended solution is: a fully-fledged agro-processing plant that shall both reverse poverty and create jobs in our region, by creating reliable market linkages for rural poor farmers, and linking our produce with agri-value chains -- like bakeries and confectioneries; bottling companies and breweries; paperboard industries and textiles, etc.
As shown under "Funding Targets" below, we will begin developing this plant once we only raise $240k, and will complete it once we have raised $15m in total. So, every little support that we can raise will make a strategic start.
A detailed description of the intended plant, and a breakdown of what the $15m will do, is available here.
Not only will this plant create new market linkages for more than one type of crop, and thus help rural poor farmers diversify their incomes, but also, the plant will help minimize post-harvest food losses while creating new jobs, and will enhance our ability to work with an unlimited number of fellow poor farmers across a wider geographical area (providing them with initial inputs, training and a ready market) in a self-sustaining way.
Each beginning farmer will be provided with initial inputs for 1 - 4 seasons (depending on the type of crop they are growing), and lifelong training. Others will intrinsically get the self-motivation to secure the needed inputs using their own money, because of a new market.
Either way, with a ready market and an established business model now in place, all farmers will ultimately gain the self-urge (and the ability) to secure all the needed inputs using their own resources, making our overall work self-scaling, and self-sustainable.
As shown below, we will install a specific portion of this plant once the money we have raised is at intervals of $240k; $620k; $1m and $15m. That is, we will begin developing this plant once we raise $240k, and will complete it once we have raised $15m in total.
1). With $240k, we will install a cereal/grain sorting, grading and threshing system, ideally from Alvan Blanch UK, and then provide rural poor farmers with seed, training and market linkages for two crops: sorghum & maize. This will help put our sorghum and maize on a standard where it can be used by all breweries, and many other big buyers, across the East African region.
2). With $620k, we will install a cereal/grain cleaning utility described in number #1 above; a cassava starch/tapioca facility, and then provide rural farmers with seed, training and market linkages for three different crops -- sorghum, maize and cassava. Starch alone will link us with buyers from the fields of beer, bakery, pasta, the pharmaceutical industry, textiles, paperboard and adhesive industries, biscuit makers and yogurt producers etc.
3). With $1m, we will develop all the work in 1, 2 and 3 above; install two greenhouse-type solar food dryers, plus an assortment of equipment/accessories, and provide farmers with seed, training and market linkages for three crops -- sorghum, maize and cassava -- with at least four different products (including High Quality Cassava Flour & Cassava Starch).
4). With $15m, we will roll out all the work in 1, 2, 3 and 4 above; install a 6-10 ton/hour fruit processing facility; provide farmers with seed/seedlings, training and market linkages for six different crops -- sorghum, maize, cassava, mango, pineapple and passion fruits.
Note: the current climate crisis is set to hit poor people like us the hardest. At the same time, the grip of poverty in a region like ours warrants the very kind of solutions that we are envisioning. Please visit this page to see how we plan to offset all the greenhouse gas emissions from our intended plant.
How You Can Help:
1). Share this page via social media, and be sure to contribute.
2). Create your own fundraiser to help us reach our goal, by tapping on the phrase "create support campaign" at the top right-hand corner of this page.
3). In March 2021, the UCF became part of the Benevity Causes Portal. If you work for a company that is part of Benevity’s employee workplace giving and corporate matching gift programs, you can help us raise the needed support by having your donation matched by your employer. Please search for "Uganda Community Farm (Nabwigulu)" on Benevity.
4). Another way you can help is by making a wire transfer to the UCF’s bank account in Uganda, using the information on this page.
5). Place one or two people from your team directly at the UCF, and then work directly with us as ONE team from start to finish, to help us develop our intended plant -- by sharing knowledge, and recruiting your network to lend a hand in any possible way.
6). For people from both the philanthropic community and those from the business world (especially those who are part of the UN Global Compact) who believe in the possibility of meeting the Global Goals through cross-sector collaborations (i.e. SDG 17), one way you can help is by chipping in, or rallying your network to help us raise a fraction of the needed funding. Every little support that we can raise will make a strategic start.
7). If you possess any hands-on skills that you could offer on a volunteering basis (e.g. as an industrial designer; food technologist, mechanical engineer etc), come and work with us in person, to install our intended plant here in Uganda.
P.S -- we can even do better, i.e., we can even develop a more superior plant, and roll out our planned community work in an even more strategic way, if only we could find enough helping hands to help us raise about $45m. Details here.
Nonetheless, if $15m is the best we can raise, we will still cut our coat according to our cloth.