AFRICANS ADVANCING AFRICA
The Atacora region of Benin is a very special place, and our partner farmers and Women’s Co-op could not be more excited with the way the Baobab and Neem markets are developing. There has never been a decent market for these and many other natural products that are their own resources, and now with their engagement with Atacora, they are really starting to realize that the real wealth for their own future has always been in their own hands. Now that we have revalued these indigenous natural resources by accessing better markets, they are seeing that it is up to them to make it right for these markets. They are taking ownership of their work, adapting to the stipulations of the global marketplace and are more optimistic with each passing season.
EMPOWERMENT (for lack of a better word)
Atacora has been, and will continue to be a vehicle for positive social change for our partners in Benin. The realization that by our association, they can better realize their own ambitions sends a powerful message throughout the community. Our intent is that communities will continue to see more and more resources and ways that they, themselves can move forward according to their own intentions. Empowerment is quite a trite buzzword, but sometimes, it really fits.
The producers of our raw materials are all contracted, and are trained on the norms of organic production. They now know that these standards have to be met in order to benefit from the lucrative market we offer them, and that this will be continually supervised and audited. We cannot reward non-compliant producers. The benefits that more earnings offer loyal producers, such as better access to education, healthcare and improved nutrition, serve to encourage their comrades to step up their game, as well. Atacora has become the biggest private employer in the Boukombé area, with over 500 people collaborating with us in a variety of ways! We are pretty proud of that.
The sense of ownership our partners are experiencing is making them very eager to produce the best Baobab and Neem products for Atacora. It is in everyone’s interest to improve, and Atacora is always at the ready and working to help build that capacity in the community.
It is unfortunate that images of war and famine have generated such a sense of pity for Africa, but much less in the way of hope and optimism. Generations of foreign aid organizations going to Africa with misconstrued and often imposed “solutions” to the problems that Africans face, have generated a mentality of self-pity and dependancy, as well. Atacora is all about changing this vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle of optimism, potential and ownership. I’d like to introduce our readers to a fantastic organization that shares our mission: MAMA HOPE. It is time to stop the pity and unlock the potential! Their short videos are very inspiring. Do check them out!