Taimaka: helping farmers in Gombe escape poverty

by Taimaka in Oxford, England, United Kingdom

Taimaka: helping farmers in Gombe escape poverty
We did it
On 7th August 2019 we successfully raised £2,025 with 9 supporters in 28 days

We want to help families in Nigeria escape poverty. With your help, we'll start this summer by supporting small farmers in Gombe State.

by Taimaka in Oxford, England, United Kingdom

We are Parth, Esther, and Justin - two undergrads at Oxford University and a graduate student at Georgetown University respectively - led by Muhammad Biri, a professor of engineering in Gombe State, Nigeria. We’re passionate about eradicating extreme poverty in Nigeria where, at present, over 70 million people live on less than $2, adjusted for purchasing power, per day.

In that spirit, we’d like you to meet Ruwa, a smallholder farmer in Gombe State, Nigeria. Like many parents, Ruwa wants the best for his kids. He works incredibly hard everyday under the blazing sun, raising and selling his crops to give his kids a brighter future. Unfortunately, Ruwa faces an economic problem: by the time he gets to the harvest, he is short on money and storage space. So, he is faced with a brutal question: sell his crops for an unfairly low price or send his kids to sleep hungry. 

We want to help Ruwa and the millions of farmers like him in Northern Nigeria who face this problem. Based on research from economists at UC Berkeley and Stanford we are providing Ruwa and 49 farmers like him with a combination of low-interest loans and PICS bags to store their harvest. Equipped with a loan and storage bags, Ruwa will sell his crops when the price is highest, as opposed to when he is terrified that they will rot, or desperately needs to feed his family. By doing so, he will grow his income, enabling him to save and invest more in the subsequent seasons.  If our randomized control trial is as succesful as we expect, we will leverage larger grants and funding opportunities to expand the program across Gombe and Bauchi State, which have a collective population of 5 million, the majority of whom live in extreme poverty.

We're doing this because we were lucky enough to never experience the trade off between being compensated fairly for our hard work and having food to eat. Ruwa has not been so lucky. We see it as our moral obligation to do what we can for him and his family. We hope, sincerely, that you can support us in this endeavor with a donation. Together, we can make a more beautiful world, with less suffering and poverty, one family at a time. 

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Below, you find our promises to our supporters, whether you donate $1, $100, or $1,000:  

1. MONTHLY CONFERENCE CALL: However much you donate to this campaign, you will have a seat at the table to remain updated and provide inputs as to how we should operate, ever month via an exclusive, early-donor online conference call. We will, together, discuss challenges and opportunities facing the project. 

2. TETHERED DONATIONS: Though legally speaking, your donation is to our crowdfunding campaign. We'll assign it to a particular household and update you on that particularly household's well-being and progress. 

3. BIMONTHLY REPORT: Every two months, we'll send you a report highlighting our expenditure, impact, and strategy.

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Below you can find answers to a set of frequently asked questions about how the money will be spent. Anything unaddressed here can be asked by emailing Parth, Esther, or Justin

1. Where will this donation go? 

We are running a randomized control trial with 50 farmers this summer to make sure, before scaling up, that a combination of low-interest loans and PICS bags do have the same sizable impact on farmers' incomes in Gombe as the research indicates. 85% of funds donated to this crowdfunding campaign will go directly into the hands of those 50 farmers, either in the form of a loan (76%) or PICS bags (9%). The remainder will be used for administrative, such as tablets for collecting data (1.5%), two employees to administer the loans (11% ), and a small amount reserved for unanticipated overhead expenses (2.5%). 

2. What is a randomized control trial? 

A randomized control trial is a research methodology which enables you to realize the true impact of your intervention! 

Imagine, you were running a government program to improve educational outcomes. You decide, textbooks are the solution. So, you organize for textbooks to be delivered en masse to every school in a district. Unbeknownst to you, though, at the same time, a district employee changes the hiring practices of teachers. One year later, you track the change in educational outcomes and, it turns out, they increased by 40%. So, you go to the President and report to her: "textbooks are the solution to our educational ails." Of course, the real reason for improvement was the hiring of better teachers, but, because you did not "control" for this change, you have no idea. Randomizing helps you "control" for all the other changes that are happening in society so you can see what the true impact of whatever it is you are doing is. By randomizing, we can see whether loans and PICS bags truly help farmers as much as we think they will. 

3. What's the goal of this project?

For one, we want to deliver an intervention to 50 farmers which we have good reason to believe will improve their lives and raise their incomes. In addition, and more broadly, we want to build an organizational structure which enables us to reach an even larger population with interventions which are backed by scientific evidence. In other words, we're just getting started on what promises to be a long and impactful journey. We invite you to join us. 

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