PCP Receives $658,000 Grant to Develop Congo Markets

Post a Comment » Written on October 8th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (October 8, 2009) – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded the Paul Carlson Partnership (PCP) a $658,000 grant to help fund an agricultural microenterprise program in the northwest section of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

USAID is the principal government agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disasters, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms.

The grant will be spread over three years and will fund two-thirds of the $1 million in estimated project costs. PCP will be responsible for raising the remaining $400,000, says Executive Director Byron Miller.

OneThe program will create a “value chain” between individual small farmers in the Ubangi region and more lucrative markets in the capital city of Kinshasa 600 miles to the south. Most people living in the Ubangi region are subsistence farmers with no cash income and therefore no way to pay their families’ medical expenses, school fees, or other needs.

While assisting small farmers in producing better crops, the program also will create a corps of wholesalers who will buy goods from the farmers and transport them to Kinshasa where they can sell the goods at significantly higher prices, Miller says.

“USAID has been very helpful and encouraging,” says Miller. “I think it was the value chain idea they liked. They’ve seen agricultural programs before, but we were proposing to take the next step and connect those farmers with the markets in Kinshasa.”

Partners with PCP in implementing this program include the Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM); HOPE International of Canada, a nonprofit faith-based development agency; and IMA World Health, a nonprofit faith-based organization that provides health care services and supplies to vulnerable and marginalized people. Each has extensive experience in Congo and in microenterprise, Miller says.

TwoMiller admits to being a bit daunted by the fund-raising task ahead, explaining, “Four hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money, especially when we continue our commitment to raising $325,000 each year to help keep the medical system viable.” The CEUM operates four hospitals and 93 village clinics in the Ubangi region.

“This program has the potential of making a real and lasting difference in the lives of people in the Ubangi,” he emphasizes. As the first round of farmers and wholesalers repay their seed-money loans, those funds will be loaned to others. The network of participants will continue to grow even after the three-year program has ended.

“This is something donors can identify with,” says Miller. “Most of the funds we raise will go directly to the farmers and wholesalers in seed-money loans. Donors will be investing in lives and families – with repeated returns as each borrower repays the loan.”

More information about the grant and the program is available by emailing PCP as well as the PCP website.

To donate by mail, send a check made payable to the Paul Carlson Partnership, designated for the “Farmers to Markets Fund,” and mail it to Paul Carlson Partnership, 5101 N. Francisco Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60625. To donate online, visit the donations page – please designate the gift by entering “Farmers to Markets Fund” in the Comments box at the bottom of the last screen.

Editor’s note: The accompanying photos, used for illustrative purposes, come from the USAID files showing individuals involved with other USAID grant programs.

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