The women empowerment project "Women Entrepreneurs in Farming" in Orsha District of Belarus has started this year with educational seminars on agriculture. It is carried out by our long-time partner RPA "Belarusian Child's Fund". It is the first initiative in the country under the umberella of 5by20 programme financed by The Coca‑Cola Foundation.
About 600 women-residents of Orsha District are participating in the project. This region of Belarus is relatively large and rapidly developing. "When we started the project our target audience were women with low income. For them, making their landlot a way to improve financial situation is extremely important. But the vital thing to enroll is to be active and ready for a challenge. They should be willing to work on land and should possess a plot of land to participate in the programme", explains Julia Kaptsevich, Project Coordinator of RPA "Belarusian Child's Fund".
The group of 40 initiative women received a three-day extensive training and became leaders of sub-groups. They were not afraid to leave their comfort zone and try something new. They learned new agricultural methods and types of plants one can easily capitalize on. They met successful farmers during their educational trips to Brest and Homiel regions. As a result, these women became a driving force of the project in the district. They supported other women who shared their idea, galvanized them with enthusiasm and shared experiences. Sometimes it can be hard to start the business on your own, so supportive community is a key to success.
"During the next step that included 25 public trainings on business in rural regions (about 600 women-participants) we taught them sustainable agricultural principles and instructed on organic fertilizers usage. We gave lessons of financial literacy, so that women could make their first business plan. We offered them legal assistance on how to register personal subsidiary plot or a business, how to become self-employed. Self-motivation and leadership sessions were also a huge part in our training",- tells Julia Kaptsevich.
56 women managed to make it to the third, practical step of the programme. Agronomists helped them to grow new crops. Depending on the crops and soil condition, some participants received greenhouses and other equipment, as well as organic fertilizers, so that the products could be eco-friendly. As a result, the first year was very fruitful for all the participants: their production was sold at local and regional fairs and eco-markets. More than 15 participants have already registered their personal subsidiary plots, and now they can legally sell their harvest and consider expanding their land property.
“The project encouraged local women to start a business in a countryside. But we needed our participants to believe in themselves and stay determined. Their journey is interesting and inspiring for many people" - concludes Marina Borovko, Public Affairs and Communications Manager at Coca‑Cola HBC Belarus.
In fact, the most important achievement of the project is the team-spirit in the community. Together they helped one another with agricultural issues. The feeling of togetherness united women of Orsha District.