BOMA’s Rural Entrepreneur Access Project is an innovative approach to fighting poverty and helping pastoral communities adapt to climate change in the arid lands of Africa. As a grants-based poverty graduation program, we help groups of three women start a sustainable business. Our approach is different from traditional micro-lending programs in five important ways:
1. We provide grants
Instead of establishing an expensive and complicated loan program, we invest in training and mentoring support systems that will help the businesses succeed. Grants are an inexpensive way to help small enterprises acquire the start-up capital they need, while avoiding the risks that can accompany microloans. With a grants-based program, we can get a business up and running, earning income and savings, in two months.
2. We provide local mentors
One of our founding principles is that locals must lead our programs. BOMA trains and supports Village Mentors—local residents who live in the villages in which we work. Mentors work closely with the REAP businesses in their community for two years and with savings groups for one year.
3. We provide business skills training programs
BOMA Village Mentors deliver a diverse set of training programs to REAP participants, including marketing, record-keeping, group dynamics and savings. REAP is intended for the poorest of the poor—typically women with little or no education or previous business experience.
4. We include local accountability
REAP participants are accountable to each other and to the local Village Mentor—not to a distant aid organization or financial institution—for the success of their business.
5. We measure our impact
BOMA collects baseline data on each participant, including nutrition, household assets, and spending on education and medical care. We compare that standard of living data at program exit (two years). The Mentors also collect data on each business and savings group and provide regular progress reports. Read our impact assessments here.