How to Build a Continent: A Do it Yourself Guide

By Matt Ferrero and Maura Kelly

Teach a man to fish and you can feed him for a lifetime. Teach him to plant and
irrigate a high yield garden and you can feed his whole community, send his kids
to school and pull his country out of poverty. That's the philosophy behind Self
Help Africa, this week's social innovator in the spotlight.

One such man is Muwamba Habib, of Uganda, was used to hand-plowing his field to
provide his family's daily food. A simple wooden plow loaned by Self Help Africa
was enough to give him the power to break that routine forever. With it, his
production increased tenfold. Now he can sell his maize on the market and turn a
real profit for the first time in his life. With the assistance of Self Help
Africa, Nakiyemba Edith's life was also changed. With money they loaned her, she
worked up enough to buy a sewing machine. She runs a small business now, giving
herself and her community a chance a real, sustained economic growth.

With loans given to women like Nakiyemba, Self Help Africa is also working to
bridge central Africa's wide gender gap. This is vital in a region where women
make up eighty percent of all farmers and very rarely have access to learning a

The organization works in nine different countries in central Africa, in some of
the most desperately poor places on the planet. Poor soil there renders so many
farmers unable to grow enough food for more than their own families. This leaves
an extremely large percentage of people in these countries trapped in a cycle of
subsistence farming that makes development impossible. Without help, they
would likely stay that way forever. That's where Self Help Africa comes in.

They provide loans for meaningful tools to sustain and develop
agriculture in rural villages. Self Helf Africa provides a variety of assistance
options, from live poultry and goats to tree seedlings, irrigation systems and
beehives. In addition to raw materials, they also provide technical training so
that farmers can make the most of what they have. Then they use these skills to train other farmers in the community.

Taking the goal of sustainability to heart, Self Help Africa is also working to
protect farmers from the increasing threat of climate change. Less than four
percent of agricultural land is irrigated, making crops there particularly
vulnerable to changing rain patterns. Teaming up with other international
organizations, Self Help Africa is taking the discoveries and advice of the
farmers themselves to develop new solutions to challenges as they develop.

Self Help Africa was established in mid-2008 following a merger between Irish
agency Self Help Development International and the UK agency Harvest Help - both
of which were set up in the wake of African famines in the mid-1980's. It has
since rapidly expanded to serve an ever greater number of communities. It has
received numerous awards for its work, and has become one of five Irish
development agencies to receive multi-annual programme funding through the Irish
Government's Irish Aid programme.

Joining us this week is Angela Dean, Self Help Africa's director of
business development. She will elaborate on what the organization is doing to
promote it's mission to empower Africa's rural farmers.

Join us this week on Wednesday at 6:00 EST and ON DEMAND at