Go Fish! To Improve Maternal Nutrition

Hope for Rural Women recently began construction on their aquaponic fish farm. Built on the success of their Micro Gardens and Mushroom cultivation, the Aquaponics Fish Farming Pilot Project was created. The project is expected to provide knowledge and training to 50 women beneficiaries on fish and vegetable production, reduce malnutrition of expectant mothers by utilizing the fish protein, and economically empower women and their families through the sale of vegetables and fish.

Implementation of the project has reached construction of the fish tanks and grow gardens. Construction to this point can be found in the photos below. Next, the water pump will be installed to provide clean water in the fish tanks and reuse the highly fertilized water for the garden beds. Lastly, the fish tanks will be stocked with 200 African Catfish juveniles. The vegetable seeds have been purchased and are waiting to be planted.

International Day of the Girl

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On International Day of the Girl, we celebrate the many ways that our partners work to enhance the opportunities available for girls to reach their full potential.

In Global Ambassador Francesca Ward’s guest blog post detailing her experiences during two summers working with Casa Congo, in Astillero, Nicaragua, she touches on the many ways gender equality is being achieved. One simple one is the need to get more young girls surfing. This is just one way to level the playing field for young girls to see what is possible in determining a new path for their futures.

Read more about the incredible example their mothers are setting for the next generation through their entrepreneurial endeavors.

Save the Bees

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Rockflower partnered with Kinyamaseke Girls Youth in Development (KYID) to support their vision of conserving the Black Bees. Not only does this project maintain the biodiversity of their local environment, it provides opportunities for economic empowerment, including but not limited to higher crop yields and products to sell at market.

With the $3,000 grant funded by Rockflower, KYID was able to do the following:

  • Conduct a 2-day training workshop for 62 stakeholders

During the training workshop, stakeholders learned the economic and environmental benefits of conserving pollinators, particularly bees. Handling and maintenance of the beehives was presented. The girls of KYID presented how they are benefitting from the project by learning beekeeping skills.

  • Tour to Kamwenge for a 2-day education visit

The community of Kamwenge has formed a beekeeping cooperative, the Kamwenge Beekeepers Association. The Director of the association spoke on the process of beekeeping and the products that can be derived from it. Topics included but were not limited to types of bees, behaviors exhibited, and the equipment and materials used to manage beehives.

  • Procure beehives and necessary supplies for the apiary

Necessary supplies, including 5 beekeeping suits, 2 smokers, 4 buckets, 5 pairs of gloves, barbed wire, 2 gumboots, and 14 beehives, were purchased.

  • Monitor and evaluate progress by holding a full day of meetings

Throughout this project, KYID has found that knowledge development provides benefits including improved self- and community-esteem, increased participation in decision-making processes, and something as small and individual as a bee can make a big change in a community.

Rockflower Welcomes Mia Haugen to the Board of Directors

Rockflower is delighted to welcome Mia Haugen to the Board of Directors. Mia brings a wealth of experience and perspective through her work as a media executive, an advisor to several non-profits and as an impact investor. 

Building on the success of early stage investments in grassroots civil society organizations and social enterprises improving the lives of women and girls through the framework of the Five Keys, Rockflower is developing a unique fund structure to ensure the flow of capital reaches those with proven efficiency and capacity. We are thrilled Mia will be joining us to add her vision and expertise in achieving these goals. 

I am excited to join the Rockflower Board of Directors, as I have total confidence Tine Ward will deliver on her mission to increase investments in Women and Girls. Gender lens investing is on the rise, and I am grateful to try help shine a light, and drive resources to this incredibly important global challenge.

– Mia Haugen 

Benefits of Bio-Briquettes

The Rwenzori United Group for Life Improvement (RUGLI) recently delivered the results of the Bio-Briquette Project that was funded last year. Funding from Rockflower bought two compression machines and other materials utilized in the bio-briquette production process.

The project had two key objectives: to add value to agro-waste and household by-products that would otherwise be unused resulting in local pollution; and, to utilize the unwanted biomass resources to develop and promote the use of more efficient and cleaner substitutes for fuel, such as wood and charcoal (the major cause of deforestation and environment degradation and indoor pollution health hazards).

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RUGLI is located in Uganda, where members are acutely aware of the impact of climate change. Bio-briquettes are a solution that resulted from the community’s realization that they must actively participate in climate mitigation and adaptation measures.

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The bio-briquettes are not only improving the local environment, but the women beneficiaries are reaping the benefits of an increased standard of living and profits gained by skills training. The training provides women with the opportunity to learn how to make high quality bio-briquettes out of local materials, for instance organic waste made of coffee grounds, rice husks, banana peels, and charcoal dust. 67% of the community has begun producing briquettes and therefore more households are utilizing them for cooking.

Annet, a 30 year old mother of five living in Kasese, stated “the briquettes are cheaper, dustless and burn longer.” Annet used to spend over UGX 115,500 (about $35 USD) every month on charcoal to cook food for her family, which accounted for 50% of her monthly income. Due to the introduction of “green charcoal,” or bio-briquettes, in her district, she only spends about UGX 59,400 (about $18 USD) on charcoal per month. The bio-briquettes have helped her save time and money that she can put into her own business, selling food crops in the market.

Betty Kasigazi, a member of RUGLI, said “the training and equipment has allowed us to take part in an income generating activity that enables us to provide for our households without destroying our environment.” The training has also helped to change the perception of the role women must play as they have generated household income and environmental protection. The women operating the bio-briquette business are becoming economically empowered as the supply for briquettes is lower than the demand. A kilo of briquettes is sold at UGX 1,320 (about $0.40), which is much less than the price of traditional charcoal. “If {RUGLI] sells all of the briquettes produced in a week, each member receives about UGX 350,000 (about $100). This helps us to pay school fees and buy basic household items like soap, paraffin, salt and sugar,” Betty adds.

This project demonstrates how simple innovations can lead to socio-economic transformation, as well as ownership. It can be used as an example to inform other productive sectors, such as forestry, where women have always played a significant role in sustainable forest and land management through agroforestry to collecting fuelwood and developing non-wood forest products for food, medicine, and shelter.

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Women should be given the opportunity to take part in the design and creation of sustainable solutions to climate change and forest conservation challenges as household managers, farmers, and consumers. Bringing women to the decision-making table promotes both gender equality and sustainable development.

The success of RUGLI’s Bio-Briquette Project is an inspiring example of how simple actions can transform societies and how, when empowered, women can break down barriers between men and women.

Goat Dairy Farm Project

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Rockflower is launching a campaign with Gambia Goat Dairy. GGD will implement a sustainable livestock system that combines modern agricultural strategies with equipment and practices tailored to the unique environment of West Africa. This will maximize the productivity of endemic goat breeds in a replicable dairy model that can be easily adapted to operations elsewhere in The Gambia and in neighboring countries. The pilot project will test sales strategies that target multiple market segments, ensuring that high quality protein products reach the populations that need them most.

The $2,500 goal will go towards establishing the pilot project of a small-scale goat dairy farm in the Gambia. Donations will provide supplies, feed and livestock to fully stock the farm.

The Goat Dairy Farm Project campaign is being led by Isabella Ward, a Youth Advisory Board member in our Catalyzer Collective.

Please visit https://goat-dairy-farm-project.causevox.com/ to donate.

A Year with RAIN

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Rockflower funded Rain for Sahel and Sahara’s Rain Garden. Recently, we received an update on the outcomes of the project in Niger.

Niger is a land-locked country covered predominantly by the Sahara Desert. The Tillabery region is one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to the effects of climate change. With temperature increases expected to be 1.5 times higher than the rest of the world, Niger is faced with higher inter-and intra-annual variability in rainfall, resulting in more frequent and extreme droughts and floods. This significantly impacts Niger’s already fragile soil, crop production, and availability of potable water.

The Tillabery region is where the two rain gardens that provide for 60 women in the cooperative are located. During the 2018-2019 program year, the Nassile and Tagantassou gardens produced over 46,000 lbs. of crops, such as cabbages, carrots, eggplants, green peppers and tomatoes. This enabled the women in the program to feed their families contributing to nutritious and diverse diets across their communities and to sell surplus crops for an additional profit.

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The Nassilé gardeners engaged in additional income generating activities to earn 274% of the previous year’s total (594,050 fCFA) – their increased earning power was due in large part to a new cereal bank initiative (271,900 fCFA with stock remaining). The tomato crop was infested by nematodes, soil-dwelling crop pests, but this was remedied by crop rotation. Staff visits for monitoring were limited due to security concerns over the close proximity to Mali.

Gardeners in Tagantassou increased the group’s income to bring in 411% of the previous year’s earnings (150,000 fCFA) to contribute to their economic independence and garden sustainability. The Tagantassou garden faced significant challenges, including an excess of plant debris (stalks of millet, sorghum, and weeds), loss of seedlings due to animal/pest invasion, and insufficient available well water. The gardens were reconstructed, training sessions were held, and an additional well was created. The possibility of bio-briquettes to remedy the excess plant debris is also under discussion after RAIN was informed by Rockflower’s partnership with RUGLI via their Bio-Briquette Project.

Both gardens installed borehole wells over 50m in depth with solar powered submersible pumps. In Nassilé, the well produces 1.5 m3/hour of potable water, and in Tagantassou, the well produces 3.5 m3/hour. Resulting in sufficient water for consumption and reducing time poverty for women.

As risks due to climate change increase, the potential in RAIN’s work is being watched closely. In the 2019-20 program year, RAIN will expand our Sustainable Agriculture program into two new communities, Imboraghan and Betarmatas, including borehole wells, while also expanding existing gardens in Tagantassou and Nassilé.

There is an opportunity to help communities turn subsistence agriculture into a profitable business and build resilience.

Astillero Women's Collective Project Expansion into Agroecology

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Rockflower is pleased to announce an additional level of support to Casa Congo for the Center for Agroecology in El Astillero, Nicaragua. The center is designed to ensure long term investment in the production and management of food in the community. This will provide a continuation in knowledge sharing and skills training and build a platform of success for the Astillero Women’s Collective, through the Women’s Apprenticeship Program and the Women 4 Water Project.

The Women’s Apprenticeship Program trains apprentices in agroecological processes and agroforestry systems. Once the apprenticeship is completed, the graduates are provided with initial resources to grow or improve their own gardens. All of the apprentices have been members of the Astillero Women’s Collective.

The Women 4 Water Project is a funding program to help women buy water tanks so that they can capture rainwater during the rainy season and store water from the town well during the dry season.

Learn more about the Agroecology Project.

Rockflower Partners with FRSD

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Rockflower is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Foundation for Research and Sustainable Development (FRSD).

FRSD is devoted to the preservation of the natural diversity of plant and animal species, and their habitats, through the prevention of environmental degradation and destruction. FRSD develops and implements projects through conservation education, action oriented programs for preventing climate change and preserving valuable plant and animal species and their natural habitats.

The Water Purifying Technology Project aims to rediscover the ancient, traditional methods of sustainable water purification using locally available medicinal plants, seeds and tubers that cleanse water while retaining its natural benefits.

Find out more about the Water Purifying Technology Project.

Rockflower Partners with WISE

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Rockflower is pleased to announce a new partnership with Women in Sustainable Enterprise (WISE). They are a women’s membership based grass-root organization whose commitment is towards the economic empowerment of women and wetlands conservation through various sustainable enterprises.

Solar charging stations will be installed in the Lake Victoria region of Kenya to be run by women’s groups. The stations will rent solar lamps and provide phone charging services. This will initiate the use of clean, sustainable energy practices and develop women’s entrepreneurial skills.

Find out more about the Smokeless Homes Project.

Rockflower Partners with Gambia Goat Dairy

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Rockflower is pleased to announce a new partnership with Gambia Goat Dairy. Their aim is to achieve food security through environmentally sustainable interventions. Gambia Goat Dairy prioritizes animal welfare and acts on community-defined need as they work to solve one of the world's toughest problems.

The first phase of their project consists of a pilot farm in the Gambia. The Gambia’s livestock generally yield 30 times less than their counterparts in more developed countries. This disparity is linked to antiquated agricultural practices and infrastructure, poor livestock management strategies, and lack of access to veterinary care in the developing world. Gambia Goat Dairy will implement a sustainable livestock system that combines modern agricultural strategies with equipment and practices tailored to the unique environment of West Africa.

Find out more about the Goat Dairy Farm Project.

Samoumat Economic Independence Project

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Rockflower is launching a campaign with the Amal Association to provide the women's group in Samoumat, Morocco with tools that they can use to maintain their physical and emotional health in a productive, communal environment.

The goal of $3,500 will supply the women’s group with sewing machines to develop greater self-sufficiency, and basic exercise equipment, such as yoga mats and weights, to maintain their physical health.

The Samoumat Economic Independence Project campaign is being led by Amanda Swenson, a Global Ambassador in our Catalyzer Collective.

About the Amal Association of Samoumat

The Amal Association is a branch of a national Moroccan organization committed to supporting a wide variety of social and economic development projects. In Samoumat, the Amal Association has undertaken projects ranging from maintenance of the local water and irrigation systems to advocacy on behalf of their community seeking to defend the public health. The goals of the Amal Association of Samoumat include protecting those who are most marginalized within the community and promoting both socioeconomic and public health through coordination with local, regional, national and international organizations and authorities. The Amal Association is a registered Moroccan non-profit, non-governmental organization.

Rockflower Welcomes Somto Ugwu to be a Global Ambassador

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Rockflower is pleased to announce the addition of Somto Ugwu to our Global Ambassadors.

Somto is a lawyer from Enugu State, Nigeria. He currently serves as the Head of Gender and Partnerships Officer for the Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP). Somto is also a member of MenEngage Nigeria and currently serves as a Team Leader for Unskilled to Skilled (U2S).

Somto’s passion to promote youth and women’s empowerment issues in his native Nigeria makes him a great addition to Rockflower.

We are excited to welcome him to our Catalyzer Collective!

Rockflower Partners with the Amal Association to Provide Economic Independence in Samoumat

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Rockflower is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Amal Association. The goals of the Amal Association of Samoumat include protecting those who are most marginalized within the community and promoting both socioeconomic and public health through coordination with local, regional, national and international organizations and authorities.

Rockflower will provide funding to purchase a projector, a whiteboard, 15 sewing machines, a table, and sports equipment for teaching classes that will lead to opportunities for economic independence.

Find out more about the Samoumat Economic Independence Project.

Rockflower Partners with the AVAZ Association to Establish a Women's Technology Education Center in Turkey

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Rockflower is pleased to announce a new partnership with the AVAZ Association. They aim to support the refugees in the region and the local people in need to access to permanent income sources and social rights, and to open alternative ways for those to integrate better into the society.

Rockflower will provide the funding to establish a women’s technology education centre where refugee and local women and girls will be trained in multiple computer-related programmes.

Find out more about the Establish Women's Technology Education Center Project.

Rockflower Partners with Jimbere Fund to Train Women Entrepreneurs in the DRC

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Rockflower is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Jimbere Fund. They provide women from some of the poorest households in Congo’s rural communities with training and grants to launch businesses.

Rockflower will provide funding for a year-long training and seed grants to 30 women to become entrepreneurs and start small businesses.

Find out more about the Minembwe Women Entrepreneurs Project.

Rockflower Welcomes Dancan Onyango to be a Global Ambassador

Rockflower is pleased to announce the addition of Dancan Onyango to our Global Ambassadors.

Dancan is currently an MBA student at Babson College committed to economic and social change. In his native Kenya, Dancan co-founded Jiwo Paro, a social venture that serves a portfolio of predominantly rural and underserved women through microfinance and financial literacy programs and current partner of Rockflower. He brings 6 years of emerging-markets experience in private sector financial services with technical specialties in agent banking strategy, microfinance, and business models focused on low- and lower-middle income markets in developing economies. In-between studies, Dancan is currently engaged on a study of impact investing and is interning with Women World Banking in New York City.

We are excited to welcome him to our Catalyzer Collective!

Rockflower Welcomes Amanda Swenson to be a Global Ambassador

Rockflower is pleased to announce the addition of Amanda Swenson to our Global Ambassadors.

Amanda is currently pursuing a joint Juris Doctor and Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Amanda is passionate about international social justice issues, and her primary professional interests lie in the nexus between international law and socioeconomic development. She is proficient in Standard Arabic, Moroccan Darija, and Levantine Arabic, and she speaks intermediate conversational French.

We are excited to welcome her to our Catalyzer Collective!

Rockflower Welcomes Rachel Bernardo to the Youth Advisory Board

Rockflower is pleased to announce the addition of Rachel Bernardo to Youth Advisory Board.

Rachel Bernardo is a student at American University where she studies Public Health and Biology. Her focus in health has led to multiple volunteer opportunities and internships, including her current opportunity to study abroad in Nairobi and work with Lea Toto. Rachel’s passion for medicine and economic empowerment has inspired her to join our Catalyzer Collective.

We are excited to welcome her to the team!

Scaling Production of Reusable Sanitary Pads Project

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Rockflower is launching a campaign to scale up the production of reusable sanitary pads and other feminine hygiene products made by Womenchoice Industries to improve economic opportunities for low income families in Muheza, Tanzania and to keep girls in school.

The goal of $7,900 will cover Womenchoice Industries entire budget for increasing production and helping tens of thousands of girls gain access to menstrual products and improve their capacity for full retention in school.

The Scaling Production of Reusable Sanitary Pads Project campaign is being led by Mollie Meredith, a member of our Youth Advisory Board.

About Womenchoice Industries

Womenchoice Industries is a social enterprise established to provide solutions to menstrual and other feminine hygiene problems. Through the production and distribution of low cost, affordable (MHM) reusable sanitary towels, “Salama Pads”, post-partum maternity pads, reusable tampons, diapers and breast pads, they are creating a market opportunity for women and girls from low income families, to learn skills and business acumen that will in turn improve girls’ school attendance and academic performance in Tanzania. Additionally, Womenchoice Industries owned by Lucy Odiwa won the SDGs and Her competition in 2018 hosted by the World Bank and UN Women.