The Stories of Four of the 3.1 Million Lives Improved Last Year

In the 2022 Annual Report, we brought you the stories of four individuals whose lives have improved. Here’s a deeper look into how their stories became possible. 

TechnoServe has just released its 2022 annual report, which shares how we helped 3.1 million people or businesses create at least $366 million in additional revenue last year, and in the process, helped change 3.1 million lives for the better. 

Behind this number are the stories of millions of individuals, who can now apply new skills and income to building brighter futures for themselves, their families, and communities. It includes those who increased their revenue as a result of TechnoServe’s work, as well as those who benefited from the halo effect of this improved income, such as family members and people whose jobs were created or strengthened due to our work.

In the 2022 Annual Report, we brought you the stories of four individuals whose lives have improved. Here’s a deeper look into how their stories became possible. 

Kennedy Musiiwa, Zimbabwe

In 2020, smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe like Kennedy Musiiwa faced a major challenge.

Borders closed. Flights were canceled. As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down supply routes, smallholder farmers watched helplessly as their hard-won harvests rotted away before they could be sold. 

“It was painful to witness farmers losing produce due to these unfortunate supply chain challenges,” says William Zirebwa, TechnoServe’s Zimbabwe Country Manager. 

Kennedy and his wife grew a bounty of crops that they relied on for their income: maize, onion, carrots, and sugar beans, among others. “We always struggled with market access, which resulted in significant losses,” says Kennedy. But 2020 brought market challenges like never before. 

Kennedy is one of the hundreds of smallholder farmers in Shurugwi, a mining district in central Zimbabwe, who has participated in an Anglo American-TechnoServe collaboration that helps farmers learn sustainable and productive practices in horticulture, beef, and poultry. These new skills not only enabled them to improve their incomes, but helped them overcome some of the toughest challenges from the pandemic.

Producing improved produce and livestock, farmers were able to grow connections with important markets like European supermarkets. They also worked with Anglo American and TechnoServe in order to purchase farm supplies on credit, which, Kennedy says, “allows us to farm effectively in time.” 

As a result of their greater income, Kennedy and his wife were able to buy livestock and to plant more crops for export, further increasing their family’s income. “We hope to have a better tomorrow selling our produce to distant countries through the support we are receiving from TechnoServe,” says Kennedy. 

Ángel Gabriel González, Nicaragua

Ángel Gabriel González, age 11, represents the generational impact of improving people’s skills and incomes. His mother, Rosa González, is one of nearly 9,000 fruit and vegetable farmers in Guatemala and Nicaragua who learned how to improve the value of their produce, connect to new markets, and earn greater incomes.  

This income is critical for Rosa, who is a single mother and relies on her farm to provide for her family. Ángel is “my greatest motivation,” she says. “I want to give him an education. I want to teach him many things that I didn’t get.” 

These dreams seem more possible for Rosa and Ángel since she joined TechnoServe’s Smallholder Market Access Program, with grant funding from the Walmart Foundation. TechnoServe worked with farmers like Rosa to help them escape poverty by providing agricultural training, helping them strengthen farmer business organizations, connecting them with agricultural exporters, and working across the value chains to make them more inclusive for women farmers. To date, the program has:

  • Helped 82% of participating farmers adopt regenerative agricultural practices
  • 5,196 farmers completed the agronomy training program
  • Supported farmers to improve their yields by an average of 11%
  • Strengthened operations at 22 farmer producer organizations
  • Facilitated sales from 3,714 farmers to commercial exporters
  • Boosted farmer incomes by an average of $422, representing an increase of 17%

Today, Ángel says that he is studying to be a painter, a dream he never thought possible until his mother was able to afford payment for his studies. “I am grateful to my mother for everything she has given me: money to go to class, food, clothes,” he says. “She has supported me in every phase of my life. I feel grateful and happy because she has helped me be able to study painting, which I never thought I’d be able to do, and which I will now be able to continue.”

Urmila Kharwa, India 

“I didn’t know anything about jobs or profiles available in the market nor did I know how to speak in an interview,” says Urmila Kharwa, one of the participants of TechnoServe’s Youth Employability program. Beginning in 2015, the program is being implemented across urban hubs in partnership with various private donors committed to the cause of youth employability and skills development. The program enables youth empowerment by delivering a hands-on, interactive blend of skills training, career counseling, and corporate linkages, to facilitate better income prospects and respectable livelihoods for youth living in the slums of Mumbai. 

“During the TechnoServe training, I learned how to prepare a CV, how to appear for an interview and dress appropriately, based on my strengths and weaknesses which job profiles I should be applying for,” says Urmila. 

The underlying objective of the program is to enable these youth to build a growth mind-set, acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills, and begin to engage in the formal economy through their first job. The program is designed to address the key challenges faced by high performing college attending/college educated youth living in slums, and unlock their economic potential by helping them secure gainful employment. The program has trained 3,000 youth living in slums.

After completing her TechnoServe training, Urmila got placed at ICICI Prudential, one of the leading mutual fund investment companies in India. “Since I’m working in a bank, my family also gets a lot of respect. It makes me feel very happy,” she says. “I am very satisfied with my job. I have learned so much.”

Ruth Nabatanzi, Uganda

When Ruth Nabatanzi’s mother died, her father worked as hard as he could to support her and her sister. But it wasn’t enough to keep Ruth in school. Disappointed to lose her chance at an education, Ruth scrambled to earn an income. 

Over the next few years, she worked a variety of jobs, eventually moving in with her older sister to a one-room apartment near the Ugandan capital of Kampala. She began selling pineapples to earn money, but came back with only about $1.40 a day. 

“I couldn’t afford basic personal needs, and we weren’t able to afford two meals, as my sister was also not earning enough,” she admits. “So generally, life was hard.” 

Helping young women like Ruth to achieve their potential is the mission behind TechnoServe’s Girl’s Apprenticeship Program (GAP). Given the difficulty that young people – especially women – face in finding productive employment, TechnoServe partnered with Citibank to help Ugandan women ages 18-24 develop the necessary skills to enter the workforce. GAP participants engage in apprenticeships with successful local businesswomen, who serve as mentors and role models, guiding the young women through their transition to employment.

With strong business and vocational skills under her belt, Ruth submitted a plan for her own welding enterprise. She was thrilled when she won the business competition – and was awarded welding equipment worth $300. She now has her own welding machines, a grinder, a drilling machine, and a tool box. And in her current job, she can make over $33 a day–a far cry from the dollar or two she used to bring home. Ruth’s story was even aired on Ugandan TV in a feature on women succeeding in male-dominated sectors. “That was my proudest moment,” says Ruth. The show portrayed her journey, she says, as “a good example for other young women in the country.”

Read the Full 2022 Annual Report from TechnoServe

TechnoServe’s work is making a difference in communities around the world by creating sustainable solutions to poverty and environmental degradation. From helping women farmers increase their incomes to improving food fortification and reducing emissions in the dairy industry, TechnoServe is committed to making a lasting impact. 
Read the full 2022 Annual Report and join us in our mission to fight poverty and create a better world through regenerative business practices.