The standard of entrants has been extremely high. Every one of the 33 nominees is inspiring and has demonstrated an incredible level of enterprise and entrepreneurialism, often in the most challenging circumstances. The Lendwithcare Grassroots Awards recognises the most innovative and determined small businesspeople in poor communities in the developing world. The Awards celebrate creativity, enterprise and innovation, and prioritises social values and poverty alleviation.
It’s now down to our able panel of high profile names from across the business world to come to a final decision. Alastair Stewart, Deborah Meaden, Levi Roots, Nick Hewer, Richard Reed, Sir Stuart Rose, have a difficult decision on their hands!
Leonida Bironga Makori
Leonida, from Kenya, is a 32 year old entrepreneur. She has been involved in the franchise business for CARE’s Group Savings and Loan (GS&L) project. So far, Leonida has trained over 50,000 individuals on CARE Kenya’s GS&L project. She also supplies carbon-free cook stoves and micro solar lamps to GS&L members on credit, which has improved the individuals’ lives as they have been able to pay for these appliances in installments. She has distributed over 644 carbon-free cook stoves and 636 micro solar lamps to her community through the GS&L programme. Through her work with the GS&L programme, she has employed 30 community-based trainers, whom she pays from her own income, creating long-lasting community change.
La Morm, from Cambodia, is a seamstress with a difference. She is incredibly committed to investing in her community and decided to take out a small loan to purchase sewing machines to train local apprentices. Apprentices pay $12 to be trained by La Morm over two months and once they have completed their training can take the machines home to start their own businesses. The machines cost £150 each and apprentices take on this loan if they choose to take the sewing machines home. This entrepreneurial education education has transformed her community forever.
Bora, from Cambodia, is a truly dynamic entrepreneur. She used a small loan to invest in both her husband’s welding business and her fish and chicken farms, increasing her profit margins to between 20-30%. Bora Mau believes education is crucial in the fight against poverty, and in addition to investing in her businesses, the entrepreneur set-up a school where she teaches over 100 local children in the morning and evenings.
Anwar, from Pakistan, is an embroiderer. She went through critical illness and her son died in a fire accident, inducing heavy medical expenses. She started embroidering with her daughter, earning little. After a loan, she expanded to six employees, and now plans on sending her children back to school. She turned her fortunes around, even becoming an earning source for others. Anwar has proved that if you are determined, you can turn things around for the better. Apart from providing a better lifestyle to her family, she has also become a source of income for four families.
Bertha, from Malawi, runs a bicycle taxi business alongside her smallholding farm. This taxi business enables her to pay the school fees for her two children as well as buying a solar light to enable the family to be productive in the evenings and use basic kitchen equipment. Bertha also employs casual labourers for her farm, thus creating much needed local employment.
She is happy to know that she is a self-sufficient woman, giving her independence rather than having to always rely on her husband.
Teresa, from Egypt, first took a loan of just £17 and purchased ducklings. She was able to repay the loan and earn some money. The whole family work in poultry and expanded their business with further small loans. She encouraged her friends and neighbors to form Village Savings and Loans groups and she trained them on how to raise ducks. Moreover, her group members elected her to be the chairwoman. Being the group chairwoman affected Theresa’s character, and the leadership and decision making skills she has learned have changed her community.
Appoline, from Benin, produces cassava flour and tapioca. She only employs young women and girls, paying them fairly and allowing weekends off, as she believes in women’s potential to be an economic driving force in Benin. She has employed up to ten women simultaneously. Aware of environment protection, Appoline uses clean, fuel-efficient stoves in her production.
Elisabeth, from Benin, is an example of achievement and innovation in her village. She has overcome a variety of problems related to her production and has managed to become a quality producer of gari (cassava flour), also innovating and developing new products like a snack from coconut milk and sugar. Also, Elisabeth employs staff permanently, always recruiting women in difficulties showing solidarity with other women and a desire to help her community. Finally Elisabeth has been training women in the production of quality gari for 10 years, passing on her knowledge to other people.
Amake Albiro Ogoudele
Amake, from Benin, produces cassava flour, employing eight full-time staff, and exporting her produce across the Nigerian border. During the busy December month, she hires more staff. Aware of environment protection, Amake uses fuel-efficient stoves to reduce firewood consumption, and participates in reforestation campaigns. She is a role model for her community.
Victorine, from Togo, is a fantastic example of how microfinance can give people living in poverty the opportunity to transform their lives. 18 years ago, she accessed her first loan of just £25 to buy basic ingredients for her ‘Kom’ (a corn meal very popular in parts of West Africa) stall which she set-up outside her home. Today she produces Kom wholesale, has built her own shop where she sells a diverse range of goods, employs seven people, and can afford to send all her children to school. Indeed, much to the entrepreneur’s great pride, her fourth daughter has just gone to Germany to complete higher education – something quite rare indeed.