Yesterday, when I posted the photo of this precious little girl, I had just returned from an inspiring day with the ladies of Jacqueville, Côte d’Ivoire. These enterprising women have now officially joined hands to form the first women’s cooperative for food production in the Department of Jacqueville –COFVIJA. Yesterday’s event was the culmination of two years of hard work involving all members of the community, federal and local government authorities, and the National Federation of Food Cooperatives of Côte d’Ivoire.
Access to a variety of fresh, healthy foods is something most of us take for granted. However, according to the World Food Program, 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. 98% of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries and 60% of them are women –despite the fact that women comprise only 50% of the global population.
Thus, the initiative taken by the women of Jacqueville to organize themselves for sustainable and profitable food production is an important step towards self-sufficiency. In addition, with Jacqueville’s proximity to Abidjan, these women are starting what is likely to become a lucrative business that will support the economic growth and development of their community.
COFVIJA’s dynamic President, Mme. Augustine Angèle Angoh, a retired headmistress and Jacqueville native, envisioned creation of a cooperative that would empower women, ensure the community’s food self-sufficiency, and provide much-needed employment opportunities. Mme. Angoh has used her abundant enthusiasm, genuine commitment, charm, and persistence to ensure the success of the cooperative. She has even traveled to the United States to raise funds and promote the cause of the women of Jacqueville.
I am very proud to serve as the Godmother of COFVIJA and am excited about continuing my engagement with the ambitious and hard working women of Jacqueville. I will be reporting back to you regularly on the cooperative’s progress, as well as its challenges. I also look forward to seeing this beautiful young 9-year-old girl grow into a strong and self sufficient woman with a brighter future ahead of her, thanks to the cooperative’s efforts
The United Nations has declared 2012 the Year of Cooperatives. Wherever you may be in the world, please get involved and support your local cooperatives. If you do not have a cooperative in your area, the ladies of Jacqueville would welcome your support and encouragement. We are still seeking the following items:
- farming equipment,
- office supplies and furniture, and
- a truck to ferry goods to the market.
In addition to that, we would welcome any offers of help, support, or cooperation from international extension agencies or individuals who are willing to visit Côte d’Ivoire and provide technical assistance and support to the community.