How do NGOs change people’s lives? Read Joyce Mary’s heartening story


Hear other people’s stories…

Maximpact presents War on Want – an NGO celebrating this year its 56th anniversary of working with poor communities in Africa.

By Eithne McNulty Overseas, Officer for War On Want Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland, December 27, 2017 (WOWNI) War On Want Northern Ireland (WOWNI) is a small, independent International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) based in Belfast Northern Ireland. 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 (visit Maximpact Advisory for training services).

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.

Do you want to help War on Want or have your story to tell? Contact us at

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Transforming Poverty into Sustainable Prosperity through Agri-business and Agro-processing

Guest port by Dave Wreford, Hermanus Rainbow Trust

This blog post is part of a series of posts, introducing latest deals within Maximpact’s portfolio, written by our members. To register and promote your own sustainable profit or non-profit initiatives and projects looking for investment, grants or other types of collaboration, please register with Maximpact.


“An innovative solution to a complex problem”.


Like in many regions around the world, Poverty is the scourge that’s destroying our disadvantaged communities in the Overstrand region of the Western Cape – South Africa. It is important that we utilize every available resource to eliminate Poverty, which is the cause of broken families, malnutrition, hunger, child mortality, crime and the lack of “early childhood development” and education for our children.


The Challenges of Living in an Impoverished Community.


Imagine living in a community where about 80,000 people live under terrible conditions, with 50,000 living in small shacks with no fresh water, electricity or sewerage available in the shacks. The unemployment levels are very high (71%) and the literacy levels low, with 59% earning less than R1,200 per month ($110) and 4% not having any form of income at all. It is estimated that 45% are “infected” with HIV, but the reality is that virtually every family is “affected” by HIV in one way or another. Tragically this is further aggravated by widespread crime, gangs, drugs, violence, rape, teenage pregnancies, spread of HIV, neglect and the abuse of women and children.

These devastating conditions have resulted in the breakdown of society and family structures causing single parent families and “child-headed” households with hundreds of orphans, vulnerable children and disadvantaged families. Many of the people have been forced to join gangs and resort to crime to survive the ravages of poverty and inequality.

“Community and Social Development”


The Hermanus Rainbow Trust was founded as a non-profit organisation in 1999. Since then the Trust has been providing community and social development; services and support to hundreds of orphans vulnerable children and disadvantaged families affected by HIV and poverty. These services have been funded through “grant funding” from government, business and private individuals. Unfortunately over the last few years the recession has resulted in a significant reduction in “grant funding”.

“Wake up Call”

This seriously impacted the delivery of services and support and prompted the Board of Trustees to develop an innovative “sustainability strategy”. The strategy is based on the establishment of a “Social Enterprise”with commercial business activities, whose surplus revenue (profits) will fund and grow the existing “social purpose programmes”.

The Dawn of a New Era

The “Social Enterprise” has established a number of small revenue generating pilot projects over the last year while researching and developing an innovative long term sustainable solution to the complex problem of “Poverty”.

The Agri-business Solution

Agri-business and Agro-processing solution focuses on 5 integrated initiatives that provide training, skills development and mentoring, the creation of business opportunities and jobs, and the production of unique functional foods and nutraceuticals. These initiatives will go a long way to eliminate poverty in our communities.

  • - The Agri-business Training College, Training Farm andNursery
  • – The “Business Development Services” and “Supply Chain Management” Incubator
  • – The Agri-business Co-operative and Production Farm
  • – The Agro-processing Centre with 4 commercial “FunctionalFoods” and “Nutraceutical” production lines
  • – The “Rainbow of Hope” Shop and Tourist Centre.

Social Impact Benefits

The mission is to rebuild the family structures, enabling children to develop fully and become future leaders, while enabling the family members to participate in the various poverty alleviation business activities.

The current programmes that incorporate over 1,000 people, include:

  • – Parenting Worx; providing comprehensive parenting, life’s kills and “early childhood development”.
  • – Children’s Circle of Support; provides psycho-social support to orphans, vulnerable children and child headed households
  • – Sponsor a Child; provides support and enables disadvantaged children access to education
  • – Special Support Groups; Support and counseling for adults and children with terminal and chronic diseases (mainly HIV/AIDS)
  • – Grade R Edu-care Centers; providing formal Grade Reduction as a foundation to primary school education.

Financial Requirements

The total financial requirements for the 3 year roll out of the “Social Enterprise” commercial Agri-business projects, including all of the infrastructure, facilities, equipment, vehicles, systems and operational costs through to break even, is $4.3 million (£2.6 m, € 3.12 m, R47.0 m), for the 5 integrated businesses. The “Social Enterprise” is looking to establish a balanced funding portfolio. This will consider a combination of sub-market debt and equity from Social Impact Investors, Corporate Social Investment, Corporate Enterprise Development, Foundation grants, Venture philanthropists, and Social VC funder.

About Dave Wreford: Dave Wreford is the General Manager / Administrator of the Trust. Dave is a social entrepreneur, visionary and strategist, with over 15 years; experience in community and social development programmes and Agri-business and Agro-processing projects. Dave has expertise in natural medicine, health and wellness, “Functional Foods” and”Nutraceuticals”, with over 10 years; experience with Moringa growing and production. Worked for IBM, both locally and internationally for 27 years, the last 10 years in senior management positions.

Photo credit: All pictures have been taken by staff members of the Trust and belong to the Trust.