NOW REDO (Network of Women Real Economic Development Opportunities)

NOW REDO (Network of Women Real Economic Development Opportunities): Rural Economic Development for Women

JamaicaJamaica
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The NOW REDO Mushroom Project offers poor, uneducated, landless women a real opportunity to earn their way out of poverty and break the cycle of inter-generational poverty. Mushroom cultivation is part of a sustainable system, in which waste is transformed into resource. Any waste that is produced in the system is recycled or used to produce a value-added products, requires very little land space, is not dependent of physical strength, and is a high value produce that is the number one imported vegetable in Jamaica. This project is profitable on all levels socially, financially and environmentally.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could give uneducated, unemployed and landless poor women a real opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Women in the target communities face oppressive poverty, exclusion, ignorance, and oppression. They suffer from high levels of food related illnesses and hopelessness, they have lack the male support and land required for traditional farming, and without the money and other resources required to buy the chemical and other agricultural inputs them and their families remains on the margins.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Create agricultural based businesses that exploit waste material that exist in abundance in the rural areas, uses little land space, requires limited physical strength, offers rapid turn around time, is a high value product with high market demand and the waste created can be sold as a value added product for animal feed and compost. Mushroom cultivation offers all these and more benefits.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Even before one mushroom was grown the project began to pay big dividends for the rural communities that surround the NOW's demonstration farm and main production site. Many workers were needed to clear the land, build facilities, harvest bamboo, plant green mulch crops, and care for the goats and worm farms. However, the women in the surrounding rural communities lacked the basic tools and skills needed to do the jobs. So NOW partnered with Food for the Poor to secure tools, and with the Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute to deliver training. All the people who were hired and trained to do the work were given a complete set of tools and furnished with seeds and beans so they could establish a backyard garden or a cash crop. At this stage we also partnered with Trees that Feed for fruit tress, with the Rural Agricultural Development Agency for home economic skills training, and received seeds and beans from Food for the Poor. The left over tool, seeds and training were then taken to the women in the targeted communities. This has resulted in a bumper crop of red bean in our local markets for Christmas and more money in the women's pockets.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Improved food and income security among the rural women and their families An improves sense of pride within the communities. Capacity building of community members.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

1. Improved food and income security. 2. Reduction in criminal activities, specifically praedial larceny of farm goods and animals. 3. Improved sense of pride within the communities. 4. Capacity building of community members. 5. Households in communities benefit from sustainable employment. 6. Newly employed community members will be better able to feed, educate and afford better health care for themselves and their children. Better housing solutions for these women -many live in substandard housing.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Now has set up its operations to deliver a competitive advantage over imports by having fresh mushrooms available locally. The business model relies greatly on contract farmers who will grow mushrooms on behalf of NOW. Some entrepreneurs are allowed to invest in their own grow houses while NOW, through its partnership with Food for the Poor, will provide grow houses for the targeted rural women in the pilot communities. The Jamaican tourist industry demand for button mushroom is currently over $45,000,000 US. and there is presently no local mushroom producer in Jamaica.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There is presently no other producer cultivating button mushroom commercially in Jamaica. More than 99% of all fresh button mushroom and processed mushrooms sold in Jamaica is imported. Servicing the hotels and food service industry with fresh mushroom required $45 US million of products in 2008 and the demand continues to grow with returning residents and native Jamaican now consuming more mushrooms in North American style fast food restaurants (Pizza Hut etc).
Team

Founding Story

In 2009 I returned to Jamaica to care for my grandfather who was 104 years old. Trips to the hospital late at night to deal with pain from his catheter was like a scene from a war zone. The hospital waiting rooms were crowded with women missing limbs, some who were morbidly obese, many mothers and children suffering from food and environmental illnesses. Conversations with doctors and local farmers reveled that the adaptation of the western diet, the chopping down of fruit trees to plant yams, the over use of synthetic fertilizers and lack of employment opportunities were all issues compounding the oppressive level of poverty rural women and families were facing. So the "Aha" moment came when I went to the store and saw old slimy imported mushrooms selling for the same price per pound as it cost to hire a women to work all day in the fields.

Team

The management team of NOW is made up of a team of managing directors who are supported by a team of volunteers and extension officers from the Rural Agricultural Development Agency and from the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Agency. All moneys earned from our present projects are put back into the project in our efforts to scale up operations to a commercial level. We are also required to make contributions of cash or in-kind to meet specific requirements of our supporting organization partners. Winning a spot in the group of ten organizations in the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI)which is funded by Jamaica National Foundation and USAID, has been invaluable because of their support in growing NOW. They have provided us with access to a team of business development consultants and marketing support that includes logo and other marketing material, governance and business management training and networking opportunities. SEBI is a three year program designed to help ten social enterprise successfully scale up to commercial level and become profitable.
About You
Organization:
NOW (Network of Women for Food Security)
About You
First Name

Pauline

Last Name

Smith

About Your Project
Organization Name

NOW (Network of Women for Food Security)

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Project
Organization Country

, MAN

Country where this project is creating social impact

, MAN

Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Customers, Other.

Supplemental
Awards: What awards or honors has the project received?

Won a spot in the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative funded by Jamaica National Foundation and USAID. Of over 300 entries we were 1 of 10 picked for the 3 year initiative that aims to grow our organization to profitability and then expand it the project across the country then the region.

Where have you learnt about the competition?

The Jamaican Gleaner

Tell us about your partnerships:

A key partner is Food for the Poor who funded the building of the facilities including the community grow houses, labs, food processing and training facilities. Jamaica National Foundation and USAID have partnered to develop the governance and other competency needed to grow the enterprise. Government and other agencies have partnered to give the other support needed to training and support the women farmers,

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Both the mushroom and the bamboo industries are new to Jamaica and lack the infrastructure, trained human resource, and developed value change. In the case of the mushroom the processes have never before been tested at a commercial scale under Jamaican conditions. The plan to mitigate these challenges include extensive training for the female farmers, close monitoring of grow houses, strong partnerships with universities and other international mushroom experts, and in-cooperating the support of peace corp workers and other volunteers with specialized knowledge.