What would be more innovative than creating an entire middle class of 1,500 people in one of the poorest countries in the world? For Enactus Lambton, the answer comes quickly: not much.
“What makes this worthwhile for me is seeing and understanding the depth of affect one person can have on another.” Amanda da Silva, President and Co-founder, Enactus Lambton.
Enactus is a non-profit organization that works with student leaders to create a more sustainable world. Since its inception in 2012, the 100+ Lambton College students involved with Enactus have brought new meaning to the word “innovation.” Through compassion, dedication, and humanity, Enactus has managed to create a farming revolution in Kasaka, Zambia.
Statistics show that most Zambians won’t live to age 55. Farming yields are poor and basic infrastructure is even more rare. Through their One Seed project, Enactus has pledged a five-year commitment to improve the living conditions of Zambian villagers.
The One Seed project consists of a microloan program that combines resources, modern farming techniques and innovative breakthroughs to significantly boost corn yields. The microloan program provides farmers with a $500 USD loan that covers the cost of seed, fertilizers, weed control sprays, farming tools, safety equipment, training resources, and other tools and implements.
So far it has been incredibly successful. Traditionally, a rural farmer could make between $150 and $200 on an average yield. Through One Seed they’re making $1-1,500 on their first year’s yield. In addition to taking home a $500-600 profit after paying back their loan in full, farmers can pay $40 into a community fund, which is used to save for larger projects.
Amanda da Silva, President and Co-founder, Enactus Lambton
Says Jon Milos, Faculty Advisor for Enactus Lambton: “Once students learn they can make a difference, they are anxious to participate in our projects. They realize they have the knowledge to truly make a difference.”
Recently, One Seed competed in the Enactus National Competition, a chance for all 62 Canadian Enactus teams to showcase their work and compete for the national title. One Seed walked away with 4 national championships. “It was very rewarding to the team to have over 50 Canadian business leaders identify us as one of the top teams in the country,” says Jon.
However, like all entrepreneurs, the Enactus Lambton team faced several setbacks. The biggest challenge was raising the funds to support 144 farmers and proving to their business community that their program is successful and sustainable over the long run.
Another challenge was developing trust within the community. It took several return trips before the people believed Enactus Lambton participants were going to come back with solutions. The One Seed project offers hope and a path out of poverty, and the villagers were apprehensive to embrace the students and their work, for fear it was false hope. After some time, the students and Zambian villagers have become like family, and communicate via phone and e-mail on a regular basis, sowing the seeds of change one connection at a time.