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|Yemen's Zoro is a woman!||●||I have been working for the small and micro enterprise promotion services (SMEPS) in development in Yemen for almost two years. It is an agency which work for empowering communities in Yemen, it does this by facilitating and encouraging micro, small and medium business. SMEPS also use SDGs indicators to measure it's projects.Looking at and reading about the work of other development agencies and NGOs around the world and through my experience at SMEPS I noticed the similarities in their work and the projects. I was reading an article telling a story closest to be a fairy-tale, but it was a real life case that started 25 years ago. It's about a girl called Beatrice who comes from a very poor family in Uganda. Unfortunately, Beatrice couldn’t attend school because her family couldn't afford sending her to one. In fact, the family was too poor that there was often not enough food to eat. The life of this girl had changed after her family got a goat from an organization named Heifer. The goat was Beatrice's' responsibility and she named it " Mugisa" which means luck in their language. Mugisa was pregnant when she came to Beatrice's family and soon gave birth to two more goats. The milk helped Beatrice and her siblings to get healthier, and they were able soon to sell the extra milk. Finally, the family sent Beatrice to school. Regardless, she was nine years older than other students. She breezed and succeeded. After a few years Beatrice got a scholarship to study at college. In 2008 Beatrice graduated with a degree in economics and it's all because of a goat. This story is telling hope and shows how small things in one part of the world could be big in another.When I finished reading this touchy story I thought about all the women that got help from SMEPS and how it reflected on their lives. Over 3000 women in the last two years got some kind of help whether it was technical support for those who re-established their business or cash grants to buy goats like" Mugisa", sometimes they received help that included agriculture equipment, fishing boats or even boats engines. By the time I thought about engines I somehow visualize "Aziza" in my mind that marvelous powerful women sitting there on her own boat in Lahjj Yemen dressed all over in black reminds me of "Zoro". Actually, she could be the feminine version of him because in a way or another both of them are heroes. To those who don’t know about Aziza Let me introduce her, Aziza is the first fisher women in Yemen, she is particularly from Lahaj a small region in the south of Yemen she's been working as a fisher-woman since 2008, two years ago a storm was blowing in the middle of the sea while Aziza was fishing. The storm led to the loss her boat engine. Aziza stopped fishing losing her only source of income.When we met Aziza, she was sad afraid and hopeless. The fact is that any sort of work in the whole world automatically reflects on the worker character so I think as much as Aziza was worried about the shortage of money and her five sons she was afraid of losing the captain spirit and her power within. SMEPS with the World bank supported her with a cash grant so she immediately bought an engine for her boat and resumed her trips. I'm so glad to say that Aziza now is independent again, happy and more powerful. Actually, she is thinking about buying a bigger boat to increase her income and live in dignity for the rest of her life. By coincidence the name “Aziza” in Arabic means the women with dignity and I am happy that SMEPS contributed a little in helping Aziza achieve more dignity. We SMEPSers are trying so hard to change people's lives and make sure to get their dignity back, giving them chances to re-live and spread hope among society.I'm so glad of being a part of this crew who actually do all this and more, so whenever somebody ask me what do you do for living I can't be more proud when I answer I'm a hope maker, I'm a dignity saver, I'm a SMEPSer. Written byAmina Bintalib|
|"Development Is Inside Each One Of Us"||●||Development is such an important thing that is the main reason of making things better or even exist. For example, without learning and practicing we will not be able to gain skills and develop ourselves and without getting technical or financial support you will not be able to make use of any available resources. Development means making things better and making a positive change; therefore, as development occur among individuals or businesses its affect will reach the whole community. This simple knowledge about development made me so excited when I had the opportunity to work at SMEPS as I previously knew that it is a Small and Micro Enterprise development agency that aims to make a difference by providing support to individuals and projects or business owners.Working in a place for the first time requires a lot of concentration, effort and curiosity to ask about everything. It requires using your own skills and previous experience in order to accomplish the work efficiently and in less time. SMEPS work environment is suitable and helps you to learn procedures and duties fast whether related to your project or other projects so you can learn more and have a whole picture of practiced activities. Team work, flexibility, and availability to find help and answers from anyone at any time made me so comfortable and helped me in so many ways. I will never forget during my first week I was asked to handle some documents to an officer, I went to someone whom I thought that he is an officer while he actually was a line manager! He didn’t tell me that this work should be handled to his officer and not him, he dealt with me normally, answered my questions and helped me too. I didn't know, the way of him answering all my questions didn’t give me a small hint that he is a manager. Days passed by and I knew his position, I was so impressed how SMEPS environment is so equal and friendly to the point where I wasn’t able to differentiate who's a manger and who's an officer.What I have gained is not just learning, understanding and getting a new experience, it is a whole transformation and an add up to my experience, skills, effectiveness, capability of processing duties, and handling stress. When there is a perfect teamwork and when every one's work is related to others' you will totally feel that you are an effective member of an on going development cycle and that you are making a real change. This encouraged me to gain more knowledge, helped me in utilizing my skills better and made me an efficient team worker. It enhanced my productivity. Being productive with passion is not only about producing more tasks in less time, it's also about utilizing your time in order to make other tasks after finishing your main tasks.Accomplishing grants payment requests, translating and uploading success stories, meeting field consultants and get to know their duties, attending different workshops and training courses, made me love the work am doing and gave me passion and feeling of responsibility and importance of each and every activity.I've found that providing opportunities and job creation transforms talents, skills and efforts into creations, success and productivity. According to that, tasks were done smoothly even the long or stressful tasks. For instance, there was an internship program for agriculture engineers which had long process procedures and complicated tasks, but I was not stressed and worked with passion imagining the outcome and benefits resulted from this opportunity for both traders and agriculture engineers.I've always wanted to meet the hero of each success story. I wanted to see the outcomes, success, and challenges that I've always heard about the fields. The most touching thing that happened to me is my trip to two regions in Dhamar. When you feel more than one thing at the same time, you will find it hard to be described. That is what I felt when meeting some of our beneficiaries and feeling their passion, challenge, energy, and happiness it was really an indescribable experience. I felt like I am standing in front of a bunch of motive, hope, happiness, insistence. It gave me an amazing positive energy that touched my heart.One of the farmers I've met was a young man who has created solution to prevent damage that would affect his farm because of the hail during rainy season, and other farmers replicated his idea to their farms too."After irrigation drip systems was installed and firstly used I was flying over my farm like a flying bird", Warda happily expressed to me while we were taking a walk next to her farm and what she has felt immediately after her irrigation drip systems has been installed. Also, I was so glad to hear her father's complimentary poem about modern techniques and the change that has occurred to their life. Warda is a widow woman who struggled and planted her farm by herself in order to have a source of income for her and her children. She learnt how to use modern techniques, fertilizers and she is now the farmers' reference and adviser in many agricultural issues. Warda has told me that she wants to enhance her gained practices by learning more lessons about modern techniques through enrolling in modern techniques training courses. All in all, it was an honor to meet and learn from these humble farmers who have made great work and have overcome a lot of obstacles.Yes, I've previously had simple knowledge about development and its importance, but now this knowledge has been enhanced just like treating photographic negative film with chemicals to make a visible and colorful image. I am so thankful to SMEPS where I had the opportunity to play an effective role of this development cycle and expressing its great benefits. Thanks Emergency Resilience-USAID team for always supporting me, encouraging me, and being patient with my ups and downs. I would like to thank all managers, officers, assistants, and consultants too. If I am satisfied of my performance and of what I've gained that will be because of working with such a great team who is sharing together the same objective and passion, as once the ED of SMEPS Mr. Wesam Qaid said, "Development is inside each one of us". Written by:Qatranada Mansour|
|Development Makes A Difference||●|| I used to always imagine that I was on the way to the directorate of Al-Abaser in Dhamar governorate, and imaging how the coming hours will be. How will today be and what will this day hold? It is “field day” in this humble region that many people do not know about, many people think it is just a piece of land that is just windy and dry! People in Al-Abaser now call it “Al-Abaser the land of good deeds” Does this mean Al-Abaser changed? I am almost close to see the change with my own eyes; I will finally get to see it!This is where my trip started. I traveled to be able to attend the field day. To see the success of the farmers after SMEPS intervention, despite the fear of traveling in the insecure situations the country is going through, I was very excited and eager to hear the farmer’s feedback face to face. Field Day is important because we present the change and how it occurred in reality using our farmers who used modern agricultural techniques and the big difference between the flood irrigation and drip irrigation. We are here to compare between what was used and what is used now in farms. The field day is important because it also gives a chance for farmers from all districts nearby to attend and witness the positive change of using modern technology in agriculture. It encourages them to make that shift, after seeing the positive outcomes with their own eyes. The field day shows how life could be so much better.The farmers were surprised with the results and this increased their confidence in modern agriculture technologies, especially in solar power pumps. One solar pump connected up to 20 farmers that benefits from the water reaching them. As analysis shows, using solar power in pumping water saved farmers up to 70% of the cost and expenses associated with pumping. Water consumption also has decreased using drip irrigation’s by 63%. All this led to an increase in the profit and it is now 5 times higher than previous profit earned.Honestly, I did not know they will be this happy. They were extremely satisfied and their feelings reached me. At some point during the field day, I felt that I have reached different levels of happiness with its full details!It was overwhelming to speak to farmers and to hear their thoughts. One of the farmer said:“The project has brought life back to us and to our land” This sentence he said really touched my heart. It was the most beautiful thing I have heard in a while. Farmers in Al-Abaser were right on the edge of poverty! Farmers told me they were threatened by famine because most of them were forced to leave agriculture since war broke out. Life conditions and circumstances made it almost impossible to survive. They used to come across high fuel prices that they can’t afford. The used to lose so much money and it didn’t cover the costs at all. Whenever I see a farmer's face speaking about the past and its struggles, I feel extremely sad. That feeling disappeared just when I blinked my eye returning to the “present” moment and the actual reality. "We do not want to return to the past and its sufferings.” said one of the women farmers. This itself is a motivation for us at SMEPS, we wake up every morning to make sure this continues to happen, helping more people. SMEPS aim is to support these people continue living with a sustainable income helping them live a decent life.|
The field day came to an end. It was such a beautiful day. It was full of enthusiasm, hope and optimism. Farmers had the chance to talk about their own experiences and achievements. They spoke about the positive impact of this USAID funded project on their income and production. Agriculture engineers also played a major role in the success of this intervention. They support farmers throughout the whole season giving them correct advice's and guiding them throughout the process. They assisted them to start correct farming practices by helping them protect their farms from diseases and possible threats. The farmer Warda spontaneously expressed her joy by saying “I jumped out of happiness” when she saw the positive results on her farm. Farmer Warda was among the beneficiaries who got supported with modern agriculture techniques that allowed her to return to farming after a long stop. She lost her husband but as a single mum she is now able to provide a decent life for her children.
All of a sudden, another farmer asked to speak. She was in her late 50's. She spoke loudly and was smiling so wide. She insisted on pointing out the importance of continuing this support and the project because it covered a need they suffered from, and she wants it to reach more people.
She said and I quote:
"You supported us to eat from what we plant, from our own hands not waiting to be fed or dressed”
These beautiful and good spirits that farmers have, their enthusiasm for work and their happiness with the results is just heartwarming. All these details made me proud that I was in charge of this project. I saw the results. The results that made me live these moments of happiness among farmers. I am proud of the whole team, which includes a big team of dedicated men and women, in the fields and at SMEPS office. They worked with sincerity and strength to make this project successful. In the end, I hope such projects sustain to benefit more farmers and create more job opportunities. Al-Abaser now is indeed, the land of good deeds.*This has been translated by smeps communications, original version is in Arabic written by Rania Al-Mamari
|Linking Emergency & Development in Livelihood Projects||●|| 23 years are the number of years I have worked in the field of development. It is so many years without a doubt and I do not regret spending all these years in that field that I am still working on till now. I have also worked in the field of emergency for more than 7 years and 6 years in the private sector.All the experiences I have undertaken have led me to start my work with Small and Micro Enterprise Promotion Services (SMEPS) which is a subsidiary of the Social Fund for Development (SFD) at the end of 2016 as the Director of the Emergency Resilience Grants Project in Agriculture sector in the first phase and in the three sectors of Agriculture, Livestock and Fish in the second phase of the project that is funded by the World Bank I realized an important thing. I have found a fantastic team in the project with an open and innovative Executive directorate that has been very supportive and encouraging. We considered implementing the emergency project in accordance with the bases of sustainable development. It is true that the beginning was difficult, especially when working with a group of people with different backgrounds and ways of thinking, in addition to the emergency situation the country is going through, which has complicated things, but we overcome all the challenges and succeeded. How?In the coming lines you will find the answer!We first thought about how we can work more effectively and have a long-term impact. We found the organizations who help in food security projects (especially livelihood projects), the organizations that distributed money in cash did not plan it right because the beneficiaries end up spending that money on non-project goals as a result of prioritizing their priorities differently. The organizations that distributed a package of materials tools such as seeds, fertilizers and agricultural tools (for farmers as an example) got the same result, if not worse, because many beneficiaries sold this subsidy at low prices, adversely affecting farmers' market supply traders and the farmers themselves.We found that the main players in food production (in the three main sectors of agriculture, livestock and fish) are producers (farmers, animal breeders and fishers), specialists (agricultural, and animal production engineers, and fish specialists), supply chain traders and product marketers as shown in the figure:Therefore, we have targeted the households of vegetable farmers, fishermen and livestock breeders through the formation of voluntary community committees that assist in the identification of beneficiaries and the implementation of project activities at the level of each target district. (Where the beneficiary must be enabled and leave the options open to him and not force him to follow the mandatory path determined by SMEPS.. It is our priority to empower beneficiaries and involve them in the process of sustainable development).After the formation of the community committees, we hired specialists for each sector and for one season to supervise 15-25 beneficiaries. The specialists start by instructing the beneficiaries to learn how to write a good plan with the bill of quantities and then send them to the project management for review and approval. Three traders, then collected at least three price quotations for production inputs of modern technology, then analyzed the offers "financially and technically" and choose the best with the reason for the choice. And then send it to the project management for approval. Then comes the role of receipt of supplies with a forward invoice and start the production process and send the invoice with the check and receipt and start production minutes signed by the beneficiary and specialist supervisor to the project management to release the amount to the beneficiary who receives the amount to pay the provider to rebuild confidence between them. The specialist will continue to supervise until the end of the season, where a field day will be held to compare the results.Through this project we were able to link the state of emergency and development after we adopted this method.The results were as follows:|
What we have encountered and have not been able to achieve so far is to connect the fourth player (product marketers) to the rest of the players. It is the next challenge for us and we are in constant negotiation with donors to support our move.
We have successfully linked the three main players (producers, specialists, and production inputs providers) as shown in the figure below:
Written by:Abdul Wahid Al - Adeeb
|A Turning Point in My Life||●||SMEPS was a turning point in my life, you might ask what is SMEPS? SMEPS is an organization, a subsidiary of SFD that aims to build resilient businesses by developing and facilitating private sectors focusing on small & medium enterprises helping them to survive during the conflict, leading their business to continue effectively and efficiently no matter how the situation is, thus providing more job opportunities for unemployed.Recently, I had an internship at SMEPS for almost 5 months, during this time I was able to understand SMEPS culture and know how different it is from other organizations. Fortunately, I have had the chance to go deeply into its work environment, employees, beneficiaries and their field consultants. I knew how they are working hard to provide needed assistant and support to beneficiaries raising their livelihood and income. Creating jobs to people means returning hope especially during conflicts. Employees at SMEPS share a common vision of being part of creating a positive change. How? Coming to work every day with that thought in mind helps in making it happen. Managers at SMPES are different, following the open door policy and being true leaders. At SMEPS mistakes does not mean trouble. It means you are now learning a new lesson. I am going to share a lesson of my own. During my learning cycle of writing reports, I wrote a report of 17 pages. At first, I thought the report was the best I have written! I submitted the report to the manager, and realized it was not the best report. This was the day where I learned how to write a report and actually make it the best. Reports are not powerful with adding too many words, it could include a lot less words and more power. I took advices, summarized, analyzed and did my studying to come back with a 9 pages report that I can proudly say is powerful and to the point. I may define analyzing as, describing less and explaining more on what is happening, what is the change, and what is beyond that change, showing the lessons we are learning. Being able to write reports in this way, I feel a lot stronger now and I feel I did add lot of value to SMEPS.Line managers and project officers on the other hand contribute a lot in making tasks easier. Providing me for example with needed information, or sharing impact stories with me. SMEPS functions same way in the field. Field consultants listens to beneficiaries’ opinions, problems, and find solutions for them. They follow-up with their beneficiaries continuously to assess their level of satisfaction about the project and figuring out the great impact on their lives. I also was able to notice how all their beneficiaries life have changed significantly, seeing their happiness and tears too while they are describing the huge positive impact on their life. SMEPS staff including all employees and consultants is helping the community survive, develop, and sustain thereby reducing the economic effects on Yemen.SMEPS culture and work environment has changed my perceptions and opened my eyes to the importance of business development and its positive change on others’ lives. I have seen the passion of work in all SMEPS staff, seeking a better livelihood and reviving Yemen's economy. SMEPS encouraged me to work hard seeking a dignified life for all people. Throughout my internship at SMEPS, I had met such great leaders, managers and colleagues that have taught me different lessons and helped me in developing myself continuously.As For me SMEPS was a starting point to build my career life and strengthen my confidence and networking with others. Indeed, all the knowledge I learned and experiences I had were highly beneficial for me, thus I am very fortunate for having the greatest opportunity of taking this chance at SMEPS. When my internship was over, a “Project Reporter” vacancy was available, and I applied. The interview was so challenging but I made it. I am now officially working as Project Reporter officer adding more skills to what I already had and developing my capabilities. It’s a big responsibility being in charge of writing reports on all SMEPS great projects, presenting their projects outcomes and successful results on the beneficiaries, community and Yemen’s economy, so inshallah I gonna do it. 😉 Proud of being a SMEPSer 🙂 Written By:Yusra Al-Hada|