Archives For agriculture

Agriculture client in Ukraine

How can we design products based on feedback we’re hearing from clients? This was the question the HOPE Ukraine team sought to answer at a three-day retreat in July, using a process based on IDEO’s human-centered design approach. After collecting client feedback, HOPE Ukraine wanted to step back and brainstorm ideas based on their potential impact on clients. According to Dan Williams, HOPE’s director of spiritual integration:

It can be really easy to go into an operational mindset, to start problem solving, and to think about ideas from the perspective of, “Will it work?” without letting ourselves live in that space of, “What are our clients saying is important to them, and can we find a way to make it work even if our immediate response is that it would be tough?”

The process

First, the team dived into client feedback and came up with a number of observations, which they grouped into themes.

1.1 Grouping observations

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Jacob and his wife

Each year, we celebrate clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing Thurman Award winners. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. We’re excited to share the story of this year’s honorable mention from Eastern Europe: Jacob Timos.

Over 10 years ago, Jacob Timos used his first loan from HOPE’s partner in Moldova, Invest-Credit, to open a rabbit-breeding business. He started with just six rabbits, and with additional support from Invest-Credit, he has significantly grown the business, selling rabbits to customers as far away as Germany.

Recently, Jacob bought more land and started growing raspberries in partnership with another Invest-Credit client. He says, “Without loans from Invest-Credit I wouldn’t have been able to start my business and grow to the level where I am now.” Jacob has referred over 200 clients to Invest-Credit! Operating a sustainable business in an area where many struggle to make ends meet, Jacob is an inspiration to his neighbors, who often ask him for insights on good business development. To help others provide for their families, Jacob has given away rabbits so that they can start their own rabbit-breeding businesses.

As a pastor, Jacob is passionate about seeing Christians in his community reflect the Gospel in their work, saying, “So many believers run businesses here, create jobs for others, and provide services. … Pray that people will turn to God here in Straseni. … That they would come to faith and know Jesus. That is the most important thing. ”

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With dirt still in her fingernails from digging in her garden, Victoria proudly displays her produce—green and red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans.

Six years ago, Victoria used her first loan from Invest-Credit, HOPE’s partner in Moldova, to buy the frame structure for her greenhouse. She uses it to grow produce, which she sells to retailers in bulk. The greenhouse enables her to continue growing produce throughout the cold winter months, thus increasing her profit. Continue Reading…

Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. We’re excited to share the story of Jean Marie, this year’s winner!

A role model in his community, Jean Marie Habyarimana owns the only restaurant in his small town in southern Rwanda, and he’s been recognized by the leaders of his district for exemplary farming practices. But in all his success, Jean Marie points first to his deepening relationship with God: “I was a Christian before joining Urwego, but being surrounded by other Christians in my everyday life, learning together how to do business, assisted me in understanding that in all we do, we must involve God.”

Enriching the soil

Though Jean Marie is passionate about farming, the soil in his community makes it hard to grow anything but coffee. To improve its fertility, Jean Marie used loans from Urwego Opportunity Bank, HOPE’s local partner, to buy two cows, two pigs, and eight chickens. By using their manure to improve the soil, Jean Marie has seen his fields produce abundant crops of beans, potatoes, cassava, bananas, and sweet potatoes.

Jean Marie

Jean Marie is also a model of sustainability. Before using manure as fertilizer, he first puts it through a biogas processor, which turns the gas into cooking fuel for his family. Even Jean Marie’s businesses flow into one another, as crops and milk from his farm supply the restaurant, while scraps from the restaurant feed his livestock.

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“I’m proud to be a farmer,” says Moise, walking between rows of vibrant green cabbages on his farm outside Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Where some might only see manual labor, Moise has learned that with patience—and attentive cultivation along the way—an abundant harvest is not only possible, it’s profitable. Even when his farm was destroyed during Congo’s civil war, he held fast to his farming vision. Fourteen years later, as he smiles and holds up the fruits of his labor, it’s evident the opportunity to continue farming is more than just a property regained—it’s a dream come true.

Moise has farmed since the 1970s. After completing his secondary school education, Moise took a rare opportunity for most Congolese and studied agronomy in neighboring Cameroon. Coming from a family with little means to pay for his education, he worked hard to support himself during this time. Later, after returning to Congo, he started a farming cooperative. It proved difficult, with many farmers dropping out. In 2000, the ongoing civil war forced Moise to abandon his farm and home. Continue Reading…

Vera

Join HOPE in celebrating the clients featured in this year’s gift catalog, men and women using the gifts God has placed in their hands—talents, dreams, and hard work—to provide for their families and give back to their communities.

Living in the rural village of Crasnoarmeiscoe, Moldova, Vera Matveiciuc lost her husband several years ago, leaving her to support their three young daughters on her own. To supplement her $100 monthly salary from her job at a local bank, Vera raised produce and livestock to help feed her family and sell the surplus at market.

In Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, poverty is concentrated in rural areas like Vera’s, where many families live without heat, running water, or nutritious food. Three years ago, Vera didn’t think her family would survive another harsh Moldovan winter without the money needed to insulate and heat their home.

That December, Vera learned about Invest-Credit, HOPE’s local partner, and took out a loan to install insulation and a furnace. “The first loan from Invest-Credit saved my family,” she says. “We could not go through another winter without making changes to our home.”

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