Cheetah Development

A nonprofit organization

36 donors

Moving Africa's subsistence farmers from poverty to prosperity.

Jekoniah's Story. From Poverty to Prosperity

Five Years Ago

Jekoniah looks over his 1.5-acre farm in the Iringa Region of Tanzania and surveys his crop of maize. The crop this year is no better than last year’s, which is not very good. Jekoniah didn’t have the money to buy the quality seeds or the fertilizer that would have produced a higher yield. He has nothing but his small mud hut that he shares with his wife and five children so no bank will give him a loan for better crop inputs.

If the weather holds, Jekoniah will produce about five big bags of maize (about 250 lb. each).  So Jekoniah has a problem. His five kids are all teenagers, and so eat a lot. He needs at least ten bags to feed his family for the year, though this is far from good nutrition.

Jekoniah is one of the world's poor who makes less than a dollar a day. By international standards, he makes $0.42 per day but that number counts what he grows not what he pockets. To have any money he will have to sell some of the maize and make his family even hungrier.  So if someone gets sick he will have to choose between medicine and deeper starvation. School for his kids is not an option. Amazingly, some families starve their children just to put them in school in hope of a better life.

But actually, his life is even more difficult:  In order to plant next year, Jekoniah has to save some of the corn for planting. And by the time he gets all the way to the next harvest, he will probably lose 30% of this year’s harvest to bugs and rot.

Jekoniah lives with the cruel irony that the hungriest people on the planet are smallholder farmers and the majority of the world's poor are farmers like Jekoniah. Generations have persisted like this. and in the developing world, farming is an occupation of necessity, not choice. Jekoniah is an ‘Average Joe’ among the poorest billion on earth.


It is harvest time and Jekoniah is bringing in the best crop he has ever grown – more than 25 bags. Things started to change for Jekoniah when he joined a farmer group organized by Cheetah Development. He waited two years to join, first watching the success of his neighbors. He couldn’t take a further risk on a loan with his family living right at the edge until he was certain. Now he has a new life.

He joined a small group of farmers organized by Cheetah Development that guarantee each other’s loans. The local bank is willing to make seed and fertilizer loans to Jekoniah now because Cheetah provided collateral for the loan and guarantees to buy his crop from him. It will cost him 5 bags to repay the loan, he will keep 10 bags for food (finally enough!) and sell 10 bags for around $280, the most money Jekoniah has ever had. With that income Jekoniah will improve his home, buy malarial medicine for his wife, and send his children to school. Jekoniah is on his way to a better life, a life he is now in control of. There are millions more Jekoniah's waiting to begin their new lives.

Please donate to Cheetah Development so that millions more Jekoniahs and their families can move from poverty to prosperity.

Ray Menard on moving smallholder farmers out of poverty.

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Cheetah Development

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8014 Olson Memorial Hwy #466
Minneapolis, MN 55427



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