Empowering Community Mobilizers to Thrive in Liberia
Morie* was born to a farmer in Eastern Liberia. Like many Liberian children, his elementary and high school education took several years longer than normal because his parents only sent him to school when they could afford it. Sometimes, children will attend school for one semester and not the next. Sometimes, a child misses several years of schooling until funds are available, making them far behind other pupils of their age level. After 21 years of trying to achieve his High School diploma, the Liberian civil war erupted, which lasted for 13 years. Defeated, Morie dropped out of school, never to receive his diploma.
Morie fled with his family to the Ivory Coast as refugees. Farming was his only skill, so when he returned to Liberia in the early 2000’s, his wife and he rebuilt their life around agriculture. They have been struggling to grow their farm from a sustenance enterprise to a profitable business. Thompson began to engage his local community in his efforts, reasoning that if enough people pooled together their resources, they could build a farm large enough to sell food on the market for profit. He says that he has a passion to mobilize men and women to farm. Liberia has rich soil and is abundant in natural resources. Farming is a way for people without formal education, like himself, to make an equitable living.
In 2012, Morie heard about our Micro-grant program in Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties. He approached our Micro grant manager and asked if he could be considered for a small grant. After observing his plot of land and reviewing his business plan, our team agreed to supply the agricultural tools needed to support his efforts.
Morie has now recruited 30 people and formed a farming association to collectively farm an area around his community. They work together, clearing forest, tilling the ground and planting the crops. Each person has committed to working on the farm 2 days/week on top of their other jobs or domestic responsibilities. To date, the group has brushed and cleared approximately 25 acres of extremely dense jungle, prepared the ground and planted Cassava cuttings. This work was done with the tools and cash provided by SFL’s micro-grant program. Once harvesting begins, this ambitious group of entrepreneurs will deliver their goods to market and split the profits amongst themselves.
*Name changed to protect identity