People in poor, rural villages of Sierra Leone, West Africa, need two things to escape poverty: permanent jobs and improved social services (e.g., health, education). We have been working with the government of Sierra Leone, for four years to establish viable commercial businesses that can pay high salaries yet have enough funds left over to improve services. Specifically, we have studied how to commercialize cassava. Working through a cooperating organization, Village Hope, Inc., we produce and sell a dried, roasted, granular product called gari that is widely consumed in West Africa. Our project area contains 9 villages, 2200 people, and about 1000 adults. We have studied their needs carefully. As with most rural villages in Sierra Leone, they need improved health and education programs, four-season roads, banking services, and a host of other services. The cassava business we want to establish can provide high-paying jobs and improve all of these services.
We are seeking a one-year grant of $350,000. We have raised $55,000 of the $100,000 we need in Club contributions and are thus seeking an additional $45,000. Funds will be used to purchase farm machinery and to equip a processing plant. We currently have 180 acres of cassava in cultivation. We will expand the holdings to 250 acres. At that scale, we project revenues of $358,000 and profits exceeding $100,000 (depending on salaries paid). Half the profits will be used to expand the business and half to improve health and education programs.
Christian Kamara, of the Freetown Rotary, is an immediate past president of the Club and is National Secretary and CEO of the Sierra Leone YMCA. He has been deeply involved in the project and will continue to participate in it. Dr. Brima James of the Freetown Club will assist on the project. He is a prominent researcher employed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Freetown. Dr. Jonathan Bart is a member of the Boise, Idaho, Downtown Rotary Club and a member of its World Services Committee. He is also CEO and President of Village Hope the NGO that partnered with the government of Sierra Leone on the cassava project. He will remain deeply involved in the project.