Friday, April 4, 2014

Knocking on Doors of Potential Funders for Phase 2 Expansion

Once the pilot phase of Farmers of the Future wraps up (hopefully by June 2015), the next step is to field a rigorous test in 12 villages with measurable goals to quantify the impact of the program. The test will likely run for 3 years at a cost of $2.5-3 million. Since this far outstrips the resources of Eliminate Poverty NOW and Pencils for Kids who have jointly funded the pilot, we need to begin working now to identify the source of funds. With this in mind, meetings were held with USAID, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Once again, the FOF concept received a warm reception and willingness to explore potential funding.  

It was a great visit at the US Embassy with Rick Bell, Deputy Chief of Mission, and Megan Kyles, responsible for USAID Agricultural Programs in Niger. After the meeting with Rick, conversation continued for another hour with Megan. She was very encouraging about the FOF concept, asked lots of good questions, and pointed out various ways that EPN can position FOF to appeal to a broader range of potential funders. She is advising on the best ways to apply for funds from USAID. While not promising anything, she said it is very helpful to submit an application, because while a grant may not come through right away, we want to be in the line of promising projects worth funding when the money becomes available.  

      The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is Switzerland's version of USAID. They focus on improving the life and living standards of the extreme poor in Niger, and place a strong priority on agricultural development. Director Stefano Berti listened intently to our story of the transformation in SadorĂ©. He encouraged us to share a proposal on the Phase 2 expansion, and was eager to make a personal visit to SadorĂ© to see the village first hand.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) meeting was held with Amadou Ouattara, the local FAO representative, and about 10 members of his staff. FAO's three main goals are the eradication of hunger and malnutrition, the elimination of poverty, and the sustainable management of the world's natural resources. EPN's presentation was extremely well received (there was even applause!) and Mr Ouattara concluded the meeting by saying that "FAO's door is forever open" to us. There is much common ground to explore between FAO and EPN, and subsequent meetings will be held to explore the potential for partnering together.

Following the meetings, we scheduled site visits for each of the organizations; seeing these places first-hand is the best way to generate excitement. In the last 2 weeks, USAID, FAO, and Swiss Cooperation have all visited Sadoré and Galbal. They were extremely impressed with what they saw, and welcome continuing discussions on potential partnerships and funding possibilities.

All in all, John and Helen had a fantastically productive 8 days in Niger. They were exhausted, but thrilled, with what was accomplished on the trip, as we all are at EPN. 


  1. John, Judy and Helen,

    This is a great Blog Post. Good news all around. FOF sounds like a perfect pilot for the organizations you approached and seems to fit in with their missions. They should fund this, as it has been proven successful and it's my understanding that the expansion of such successful programs is their mission!
    Jilana Dellal

    1. Thanks - as always - for your kind words of support!

  2. From Robin Mednick (posted with her permission):
    "beautifully written blog Helen.....evokes such warm and wonderful memories.
    love the way you have with words....."