The Story of Joyce Mary

By Eithne McNulty Overseas Officer for War On Want 

Northern Ireland, EU July 19, 2017 (Guest Contributor) War On Want Northern Ireland (WOWNI) is a small, independent International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) based in Belfast Northern Ireland. This year, 2017, it celebrates 56 years of working with poor communities in Africa. WOWNI implements programmes in Uganda and Malawi focusing on supporting local groups of farmers to reduce poverty and promote equitable and sustainable development through building their capacity to produce more food to feed their  families and have a surplus to take to market. Fostering entrepreneurship and building income generation are important aspect of how the organization works and special care is taken to target the most vulnerable of the poor such as orphans, women, elderly, child headed households and  people living with HIV/Aids. Care for the environment is central to WOWNI’s work ethic as is gender equality.

Joyce Mary’s story is a heartening one. It shows how a little help can go a long way when there are people as enterprising and entrepreneurial as she. And the vast majority of people in poor communities in Africa have this amazing ability to be business people in their own right. Joyce Mary talks about her “business dream coming through” with the help she got from WOWNI. She now has her chicken rearing farm!. She talks too about the training she received  on business development and agricultural technologies. WOWNI hears this said all the time. Training is such a key element of the success of the projects.

Joyce Mary references borrowing from her local Village Savings and Loans Scheme (VSLA) – a kind of credit union set up and managed by local people. VSLAs are a lifeline to people and form part of every intervention WOWNI designs with local people. VSLAs provide a safe savings scheme locally, they provide borrowing facilities for business set up and importantly, they become a lifeline when a ‘rainy day’ hits. Ironically, a ‘rainy day’ in the East African context more typically means drought!. This leads to failed crops as does other disasters such as floods and pest invasion like the army worms which are sweeping Sub Saharan Africa at the moment and destroying poor peoples’ livelihoods. So, the challenges are many. Fortunately, the resilience and talent Joyce Mary exudes, as do so many other of the poor, sees communities through the tough times. Ironically too, when you visit these communities what you meet is not despondency and desolation – not at all. It is always song, dance, ceremony and celebration. Always a smile and a welcome. 

WOWNI has a deep belief in the capabilities and capacity of local communities in the developing world. They  know best how to respond to the needs and challenges they face; how to lift themselves out of the poverty that surrounds them. Their challenges and obstacles are manifold;  the structural nature of poverty; did you know that the developed/rich world takes more in  taxes from the developing world than it gives to it in aid?. Other major challenges include climate change, lack of resources, education, jobs, land, gender inequality. Because local people and their communities are best placed to plan and implement development projects, WOWNI  operates the ‘partnership approach’, meaning it identifies locally based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and work through them. They become the delivery mechanism for development projects.  They invariably know what’s needed by way of planning, budgeting,  training, raw materials, tracking, monitoring and much more. They get results. WOWNI is simply the conduit between its Northern Irish  donors and its governmental donors, who generously give to the organization, and the farmers groups who, when they receive that assistance, work innovatively, imaginatively, diligently and with unbelievable resourcefulness and resoluteness. 

Akwi Joyce Mary

Joyce Mary feeding her chickens.

Testimony of Akwi Joyce Mary

“My dream has been to become a prosperous entrepreneur” She said. Akwi Joyce Mary is a 45 year old married woman with six (6) children. She also takes care of 4 grandchildren. Joyce Mary has 6 acres of land and with the support of group oxen they received from WoWNI, she is now able to cultivate all. Joyce Mary relies purely on farming as a source of livelihood.

“Before the Project support, I used to work like a donkey, hiring out my labour in order to get food and little income to support the family. My husband was a well known drunkard in the community; my family could only afford one meal a day during hunger month and we had no hope of educating our children” she narrated.

She further explained that, despite the fact that family had land, they were not utilizing it effective because they had no oxen but however, her life is now much more better, she feels empowered as a woman because her children are going to school, have their own oxen that she bought, have 250 local chickens; she is also an active member in her savings group, has100 plastic chairs that she hires out and her family eats 3 meals a day during hunger months. Her husband now respects and loves her.

Joyce Mary said that, the most significant change she is proud off in the project is the knowledge received through the trainings especially farm planning and farming as a business. This enabled her not only diversify her food production but also enabled her divides gardens to ensure that family grows crops for income and food separately. In 2016 she planted 2 acres of groundnuts, one acre for food and the other for income; she was able to earn £349 but also have food at home. The money helps her pay school fees for her children, meet family medical bills as well as household necessities. “Every year now make sure that I have at least 3 acres specifically grown for food and 2 for income” she said with confidence.

Joyce also with her business dream, started rearing 5 local chicken that she bought using the money she borrowed (£24) from her village saving group, chickens have multiplied and she now has 250. She sold 15 chicken was able to buy an ox and two sheep. The chicken not only provides her with daily income but also balance diet inform of eggs, the meat. Besides the chicken, Joyce grows vegetables at her backyard and she able to eat fresh vegetables to supplement her diet.


A Child’s Right to Savings

ChildCashRegisterMoneyBy Sunny Lewis

MUMBAI, India, April 14, 2017 ( News) – Gone are the days when the only financial education a child would receive was a piggy bank with a coin or two tucked through the slot and parental instructions to save his or her loose change. Now young people, even street kids, can have access to e-banking thanks to an award-winning social entrepreneur from India.

On April 2, the nonprofit Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) together with Mastercard launched a unique comprehensive guide on banking and payment products for minors.

The guide, “Safer Payment Products for Minors,” identifies recommended practices on how Financial Service Providers can develop age-appropriate payment products for minors.

These products are intended to promote responsible spending and financial decision making while incorporating functions that allow for parental guidance to help children achieve financial autonomy.


Jeroo Billimoria of India is an award-winning advocate for youth financial independence. (Photo courtesy Child and Youth Finance International) Posted for media use

Today’s children can look to social entrepreneur Jeroo Billimoria as an inspiration for their own effective ways of handling of money.

In 2011, Billimoria founded Child and Youth Finance International, which unites policymakers and experts from private, public and civil society sectors to elevate the financial rights of children to a higher priority on national and international agendas.

Worldwide, young people are more tech-savvy and digitally included than ever before, yet many lack the much needed financial know-how to make wise decisions about money later in life,” wrote Billimoria in “Huffington Post.”

The fast-growing world of financial technology offers many opportunities; building the tools needed to successfully include children and youth in banking services, the chance to gain expertise from the private sector, and the impetus to create regulations around the financial needs of youth,” she wrote.

Born in 1965 in Mumbai, India to a family of professionals, Billimoria has dedicated herself to support of the economic rights of children.

She began working with street children in Mumbai, many of whom had run away from home and had no one to depend upon except themselves.

Answering their calls through helplines she established, she realized that many of these children demonstrated the attributes of good entrepreneurs – they were brave, smart, innovative and creative. But they were not integrated into the normal financial system and so were financially vulnerable.

Billimoria decided to make her vision of children having and managing their own savings accounts a reality.

Starting with just her own telephone number and her personal savings, Billimoria founded Child Helpline International, an organization that now helps millions of street children each year in countries around the world.

Billimoria really broke through when she created a fun-loving and mischievous cartoon character called Aflatoun as a fireball from outer space. Aflatoun inspires children to explore and engage with the world around them through activities, stories and games, and teaches them about their rights, and about money.

She developed a curriculum for teaching children to take responsibility for themselves, to plan for a better life, and to save money through school-based Aflatoun Clubs.

Aflatoun educates children about their rights and responsibilities. It equips them with skills to save and manage money, and set up their own social and financial enterprises.

In 2006, one year after she created Aflatoun, Billimoria received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, a $1.25 million, three-year core support investment to scale her work and increase her impact.

Today, Aflatoun is an international network of nongovernmental organizations based in Amsterdam. Currently, more than 2.3 million children receive social and financial education each year through more than 27,000 education centers in 109 countries.

Forty percent of students enrolled in the Aflatoun program save small amounts of money each week, building savings that average €2.23 euros per child per year – €2.76 million total.

To date, Aflatoun students have launched 5,177 social enterprises and 11,449 financial enterprises.

In 2012, Billimoria stepped down as executive director of Aflatoun to found another new venture – Child and Youth Finance International.

This global advocacy organization is the one partnering with Mastercard to create the guide for financial service providers, “Safer Payment Products for Minors.”

Walt Macnee, Mastercard Vice Chairman says, “Today’s minors are the adults of tomorrow. As they grow up, we need to ensure that they are prepared to fully participate in the formal and increasingly digital economy. By ensuring that the tools and products that they are given are age-appropriate, we contribute to that preparation.

Many of the tips for children in the minors’ guide are the same that people of any age should abide by.

For instance, the guide advises young people to keep their bank card in a safe place, write strong passwords and don’t share them, and research online websites and companies and read customer reviews before buying anything.

Another tip: “Trust your instincts – if you have any doubts about a website, do not purchase anything from it; there are

many other online stores to shop from.”

And to avoid fraud, “Be aware of your surroundings when talking about your account. Check who can overhear you or see what you’re doing when using a public wifi hotspot.

The guide was created by Mastercard, Child & Youth Finance International, ParentPay, nimbl and Mirador Digital, with contributions from a range of organizations in the financial sector.

Speaking to financial services providers, the guide advises, “The minor’s needs, interests and levels of comprehension would form the basis for all product communications.

Parent-targeted initiatives and minor-friendly communication are both emphasized. The guide suggests that annual fees and monthly bills would be sent to the parent, but communications from the financial services provider can encourage that they are reviewed regularly with the child.

Billimoria gives an example of minor-centered financial service happening right now in Uganda, where the Private Education Development Network has collaborated with the software development company Oratec Ltd. to create an automated school deposit and withdrawal management information system to promote savings among students.

Offering the opportunity for kids to understand how e-banking works by opening and managing their own account, the system also enables financial service providers to equip students with banking skills and fund financial inclusion through mobile money initiatives,” she wrote.

Billimoria warns that money saved in a piggy bank could be stolen or lost in a fire or flood.

She says everyone at Child and Youth Finance International believes that young people have a right to safe and appropriate child and youth friendly savings accounts at formal financial institutions.

Featured Image: Child plays at running a shop, June 2015, United Kingdom (Photo by Sarah Joy) Creative commons license via Flickr

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4 Tips For Finding A Career Mentor

31843658 - two young businesswomen having a meeting in the office sitting at a desk having a discussion with focus to a young woman wearing glasses

31843658 – two young businesswomen having a meeting in the office sitting at a desk having a discussion with focus to a young woman wearing glasses

By Lauren Davenport, CEO and founder of The Symphony Agency

It’s not unusual for careers to get off to wobbly starts as young people, hampered by their lack of experience and contacts, find it difficult to achieve a firm footing.

That’s one reason they should make it a goal to find mentors who could help guide them through the rough patches.

One of the biggest benefits of having a mentor is that person’s success can act as a catalyst for your belief in yourself.

It’s also a way to expand your network because a mentor can introduce you to people who could help you with your career and who you otherwise might not meet.

While mentors can be a great asset for young people in their career advancement, don’t expect the mentor to materialize out of nowhere and then do all the heavy lifting. Much of the onus is on the mentee to seek the relationship, cultivate it and make the most of it.

A few ways to do that include:

• Don’t be afraid to reach out. A simple LinkedIn search can help you find people who are currently in your dream job. Somehow, they managed to get the very thing you want. How did they pull that off? Send them a short message and tell them your aspirations. Ask if they can spare 30 minutes for you to visit their office and “pick their brains” about how they achieved success.

• Do your homework. After you went to all the trouble to set up that meeting, you don’t want to show up unprepared. Learn all you can about this potential mentor with a Google search. Write down any questions you want to ask. For the meeting, dress like you already have a job with the person’s company and be 10 minutes early.

• Join a networking organization. If reaching out to an individual isn’t in your comfort zone, seek a networking organization that focuses on career growth. Sign up for a MeetUp group taught by someone you admire. Take notes as the person speaks. After the event, you’re also going to need to muster up the courage to introduce yourself. To find a good mentor, in most cases you really are going to need to take the first step.

• Pay attention to the mentor’s advice. You may not follow through on every suggestion, but you do need to listen to what they have to say. After all, the wisdom and experience they can provide is the whole point of having a mentor. I recall early in my career joining a networking group and trying to pitch my company to the members without success. I mentioned to my mentor my inability to generate any business. She told me if I wanted to be taken seriously as a business woman I needed to change my wardrobe. I put away the summer dresses I typically wore and bought some tailored jackets and other clothes that helped present a business-professional look. Soon after, business picked up.

I still actively seek women who are in my industry and at similar career levels.

Sometimes they even work for competitors. We don’t share any company secrets, but we often are experiencing similar struggles, so we swap stories and give each other advice on how to overcome those challenges.

1ZLSB54z_400x400Lauren Davenport is chief executive officer at The Symphony Agency.  She founded the company after discovering that businesses were struggling to understand how to implement marketing and technology to reach their full potential in the digital age. Her natural entrepreneurial drive grew the organization from a boutique consulting business into a multi-million dollar agency. She is a contributor for the New York Daily News and has been featured on PBS, ABC Action News, iHeartRadio, AMEX OPEN, and more.

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8 Essential Things You need to Know When Looking to Raise Capital

Capital Raising

By Maximpact

Whether you are a seed, start-up, growing, established or mature company – at one point of another – you need to raise capital. In days past, this usually meant going to the bank to apply for a loan or perhaps sharing your ideas with your rich great uncle over tea. But in the modern age of the Internet and the technologies at our disposal, there are diverse and viable options for raising the capital you need. To better understand the 8 essentials you must know to raise capital. Let us first briefly discuss the common methods used to obtain capital.

Ways to Raise Capital

Friends and Family: 

They have always been there for you and you for them. Often if you have a great idea or need to grow your business, they are happy to get on board and support you all the way. There are disadvantages in the fact that relationships can be strained if you are slow to see returns on investments or things “go bust”.

Loans / Banks: 

Among them,

1) Long term loans, most often for large investments like expansion, acquisition or working capital. These loans are typically paid monthly and tend to have lower interest rates, but you must borrow a very large sum of money.

2) Short term loans, most often for immediate needs like accounts payable, or small projects, things that keep your business functioning in the short term. These also require monthly payments and are a bit easier to get, but the interest rate may be higher for loan amounts.

3) Line of Credit is a flexible option. You apply in advance and then request only the money needed in small increments. As you continue to replenish the money you can draw out more up to your limit. The downside is that the funds are limited. And, similar to credit cards, interests can be high. These are best only used for emergency shortfalls and not as an every day means to obtain capital, although some businesses use it in this way.

4) Alternative Financing, is things like cash advances, asset-based loans, leasebacks. These can be helpful as a last resort, but due to the high interest rates and low dollar amounts, they should be used with caution.

Venture Capital

This type of financing in provided by investors, who believe that your startup or small business can become a great success with the help of their money and they see great long term potential. The investors are taking a great risk, so they expect exceptional returns in a reasonable amount of time. This means that they will likely require a significant chunk of equity in the business and will want to have some say in how you do things regardless of whether they have a majority share. The partnership between a venture capitalist and an entrepreneur has incredible potential to generate wealth if the drive is there and smart decisions are being made with the money.

Crowd funding Platform such as Kickstarter

There are many crowd funding options today largely thanks to the success of a crowd funding website, These utilize the power of social media and hype to get everyday people excited about ideas. These can raise a lot of money in small increments, but it can be hard to generate the kind of excitement that can propel a crowd funding attempt. Additionally, you only receive the funds if you reach your funding goal and you need to provide something in return to the funders i.e. your product prototype, a trip to see your facilities or a thank you note.


This type of financing is available when loans are not an option. They are more creative, often group-based models where entrepreneurs and small business work together to obtain funding. This form of financing is often done as a form of stimulus within an industry or impoverished area. The businesses are coming in to solve problems and, to obtain those funds, they must show that they have a plan.

Private Equity 

Private equity is usually about taking an existing company with existing products and existing cash flows, then restructuring that company to optimize its financial performance. This process can be very painful, but is done with the plan of being better and more profitable on the other side.

What do investors want?

If you are looking to raise capital, you have to stop thinking like a business owner or entrepreneur and start thinking from the investor’s point of view. This will be your ultimate guide as you navigate the sea of capital funding efforts.

What do all types of investors look at when people come to them for capital raising?

Investors of all types are all busy people. They receive hundreds of business plans, investment requests, investor pitch decks and the like a week. Going through all that requires time and effort. Usually, they would have trained staff looking through the documentation. These staff members know what to look for and they are good at what they do. If they don’t see it quickly, they will pass. Plans get selected based on their criteria and only then do the venture capitalists, investors and decision makers review the very few that they have selected. These odds are not in your favor. But once you get through these “screeners”, you have a real shot and getting the capital you need.

Are you investor ready? Investment-ready guide provides a quick overview of the needed material.

So, how do you get through to the next round? 

Now that you understand how this “game” works, you know that this is your goal. So next we will discuss the 8 essentials that you need to know to get through to the next round. Essentially it comes down to the below mentioned points:

1. Provide investment-ready material

Have all your documentation ready, well structured and in the format that the investors and their team can read and understand immediately. Do not ask them to kindly go to your website to find out more at the initial selection stage. That is a sure way to end up in the shred pile. All the important, relevant and decision influencing information must be clearly included in the investor pitch deck and business plan.

Financial people who look through the information are trained in a certain way. They go through schooling and education that teaches them to read and see information based on key metrics and points. Including those points and presenting them in a format that they understand will tell them the whole picture quickly and easily. If your financials are not presented in standardized format that they are able to read and understand quickly, then your project – no matter how good it is – will get the “reject” stamp.

2. Have a strong business plan

What do investors look for in a business plan? This is essential to understand. Guessing what they think is not a sure road to success. This is the complete roadmap and blueprint of your business. It must include a solid development and operations strategy, market study and marketing strategy, risk management, investment offering, exit strategy and other essential items needed for your business to succeed.

3. Be clear on strategy and competitive edge

How well did you think through and outline your strategy? It matters. They expect you to think through everything and think like an expert because of solid research even if you are new to this. A lot of business plans do not make sure that they outline their business and marketing strategy in full. This in turn shows investors that you have not thought through critical elements and they will pass.

4. Include all important company information

If you are an operating business or project, let the investors know. This will give you more credibility than startups. Investors will feel more comfortable with projects and businesses that have been operating for several years, as you know the ups, downs, risks and you already have hands-on experience in the sector. Even if you are not yet earning net income, having your operations or some of your operations set up is an advantage. With an operating business, projections and valuation can be done more accurately than a startup. Use that leverage to get their attention to pass through to the next round.

5. Do not undervalue your management team

Many would not think this is important as important as the business idea. But to a lot of investors this is very important, especially to Venture Capitalists. Venture Capitalists pay a great deal of attention to the management team, their experience and personality. Some Venture Capitalists will even admit that they have given money to entrepreneurs rather than to the business idea, because they knew that the entrepreneur would make it work. Attaching professionally laid out and curated CVs to business plans is highly important. Do not underestimate the human resource aspect.

6. Know the investor, valuation and scalability of your business 

Knowing which investor to approach is very important to your chances of success. If your business can only be set up in one place and does not have scalability potential, then you might not approach certain investors. If your project, technology or business is subject to scalability to other countries, regions, markets this is important to mention in your business plan.

A lot of businesses assume they know the valuation of their business. Valuation in financial terms is more complex than one might think. Having a business valuation done by a certified 3rd party brings credibility, comfort and seriousness to your project as well as an advantage for your project or business in that you know your business valuation.

7. Really consider what documents do you need

Essentially it comes down to two pieces of material:

  • Investor Pitch Deck: this is a presentation on roughly a 10-page slide. This is the first communication you would send to an investor, so they can scan through and see whether they are interested in reading your business plan.
  • Business plan: this an in-depth document that will outline your history, vision/mission, strategy, market and marketing strategy, investment section, how the funds will be used and exit plan, management team, valuation and financial projections.

Do not be unprepared. Know these documents inside and out and make sure they convey the message that you want to convey.

8. Know the steps of capital raising 

The basic and process is the following, of course this varies from investor to investor:

  • Step 1: Investors receive your investor pitch deck and your business plan.
  • Step 2: Trained staff member reviews the investor pitch.
  • Step 3: If the pitch piques their interest, they take a look at your business plan.
  • Step 4: If staff sees what they are looking for, staff member takes notes and marks up your business plan to prepare it for the investor.
  • Step 5: The investor reviews the business plan presented by the staff member along with any notes from the staff member, as the staff member knows exactly what this investor is looking for.
  • Step 6: A decision is made to invest or not to invest.

The “take aways”

Too many people seeking investment are not prepared properly and their materials are not investment ready – do not be one of them.

Showing investors that you have done your homework through how you present information for their review will make you stand out.

Any perceived weakness in your plan can derail your efforts and you may not get a second chance, especially with these investors. When it comes to preparing your financials, it is best to have an expert do them for you. With their financial expertise, they cannot only assure that everything is accurate, but also they know to the letter how to lay it out in the most standardized and easy to understand way.

The cost of having a professional consultant do your financials should not be considered as an expense, but an investment into your success. offers investment-ready services that fits all budgets.

Business Plan Writing Service 

You can have your business plan written from scratch, update it or get it completed by an expert consultant. The business plan service includes financial projections.

Funding Assessment – Are you investor ready? 

If you have a business plan already written, then before approaching investors have it reviewed to by a funding assessment expert to verify that you are investor ready.

Business Valuation – Certified Business Valuations 

Do you have a 3rd party project / business / startup valuation done? If not, it is advisable to have it done. You have an option of 3 different levels of depth:

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