Business Micro Grants Pilot Program with Adam Ross Russell

UPDATE: As of May 13th, my goal has officially been REACHED! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who contributed, I’m very grateful and excited for the summer ahead.

As many of you may have heard, I will be going to Tanzania this summer!

I will be working with an organization that my sister founded and my entire family has become very involved with – The Small Things, a non-profit based in Nkoaranga, Tanzania. Their mission statement is about addressing the orphan crisis in Africa, starting with this village. So far they have been working primarily with an orphanage and the hospital it is attached to.

However, this summer we are working together to develop a pilot program that reaches out to help those in the community who are already participating in the enormous task of caring for orphaned children, outside the instutionalized structure of an orphanage. In some areas, as many as 15% of households are caring for an orphaned child. Within Nkoaranga orphanage itself, we have several children whose families would love to take them, but are simply too poor to afford food and adequate care for them.

I will be developing a small micro grants program for families affected by early parental death – either families caring for orphaned children, families who have lost a parent, or young adults who have been orphaned. We will be running a 6 month pilot program aimed at 6-8 individuals who fall into these categories, living in extreme poverty, who either run a struggling business or want to start a business. We are looking for participants for whom a small lump sum ($50-$100), along with basic business education, has the potential to grow their business to the point where it is sufficient to care for their households.

The goal is to see if it is a feasible and efficient way to improve the care of orphaned children in the community, without the infrastructure-heavy and ongoing work of building additional orphanages.

During the time I am there I will be soliciting and evaluating applications for grants, developing an appropriate business skills curriculum, teaching these skills, helping to create personalized business plans, and designing and implementing a follow up and analysis program to see if this is a feasible program to run. I will be working with two very talented Tanzanian young women, Rehema and Valieth, to implement and run the program smoothly.

Of course, there are funds that need to be raised in order for this program to come to fruition. The funds raised will go towards the grants for worthy individuals, additional supplementary grants for meeting agreed upon benchmarks at certain intervals, wages for Rehema and Valieth‘s work, and their travel expenses to visit and evaluate businesses and individuals.

I want to stress that all funds raised will be used solely for the project. They will not be used in any way personally or to supplement my own living expenses, but for the good of the community.

I aim to raise $1,800 to fully fund this project. That will cover 6-8 initial grants, 6-8 supplementary incentive grants, all materials and supplies for participants, all transportation costs for participants, full time salary for Vaileth and Rehema for the five week duration of the intensive portion of the program, as well as part time salary for the remainder of the six months for Vaileth and Rehema to conduct monthly follow up with each participant. It costs an average of at least $500 per year for a child to be cared for in an orphanage. If this program is successful in using a one time grant for low income individuals to improve the standards of child care for orphans living in the community, to the point where they receive as good or better care than they would in an orphanage, this could be an extremely cost effective way to improve our reach.

I know it sounds like a lot of money, but I will be undertaking various methods of fundraising to try to reach it, because I know this is an important project. I’m writing to ask you to contribute whatever you can to this fund. I will be spending my 21st birthday in Tanzania working on this – I would ask that any of you who were planning to give me presents please contribute to this effort instead. All you have to do is select an amount from the drop down menu and click the “Give” button in the widget above. Donations are securely processed through Paypal, and my goal amount will be reduced every time I receive a cash or check donation.

Remember, all of the funds go directly to the project, not to administrative fees or personal expenses. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, and for anything you can give – every dollar helps!

Huge thank yous go out to everyone who has donated!

Joanna Waley-Cohen 
Ramya Subramanian 
Dan and Ellen Hart
Ed and Susan Brubaker
Erik Budlong
Emilie Jensen
Kate Lamb
Max and Hilde Goldberg
Todd Learmonth
Josh Brownstein
Mary Jo Carter
Valerie Lamb
Allen DePalma
Lisa and David Loeb
Michael dePascale
Penny and Peter Branden
Ben Hart
Rita and Oliver Hart
and Ellen and Michel Plantevin!
Thank you so much for your support, 
Adam Ross Russell

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