Small Steps: Chickens and Candy
One of the focuses of Ethne’ is to lift up families economically through micro-enterprise grants and loans. This was the idea of our partner Nick Basco who said, “If we want to help the kids, we really need to invest in families, and one way to do this is small business training and investment.”
So we ventured into this starting with giving ten families two hens and a rooster with the goal of reproducing and providing an egg or two a day so the kids could get some protein, and perhaps they could multiply their chickens. We all laughed together in the training as we discussed and challenged them, “Now remember, when times are tough or you are in crisis, do NOT eat the chickens!!!” This is the reality in subsistence living that so many of us can never relate. Not all succeeded due to contextual challenges, but seven of the families were able to return chickens back to the program with a real sense of dignity. And some are still getting eggs daily to help feed their families!!
A second wave focused on training people in micro-business then giving small $80 grants. The businesses varied from making sweet rice to sell to marketing phone load. One idea was encouraged by one of the little girls in the program. She told her daddy that they could sell candy from their small one room home, and this provided a small return of 75 pesos ($1.50) a day. This may seem like nothing to most in the West, but to them it was roughly a 50% increase in their daily wages. When asked whose idea it was to start a candy business, the little girl gave a big wide smile!!
It is priceless to see how small investments can yield so much beyond a little more income like discipline, confidence, hope, and dignity. Even a bit of protein is valued deeply when you have none. Change is indeed measured by small investments and small steps