Dr. Haller believes that economy and ecology must be in balance. People will not ‘conserve for tomorrow,’ if they have no food on their plate today. All of Haller’s programmes can be used to generate an income, which show farmers the tangible rewards of using sustainable techniques. Fish, food, biogas and solar energy can all be sold.
Haller’s nano-enterprise programme helps register communities as self-help groups so that they can set up savings accounts. We call it nano-enterprise because the people we help are so far below the poverty threshold, they do not qualify for micro-finance loans. Haller provides seed capital to help community members start small businesses, and teach them skills such as bookkeeping to help them manage their money effectively. These nano-enterprise initiatives help people move beyond subsistence farming, so that they can start to build sustainable lives for themselves.
Haller gives farmers the skills to not only produce enough food to eat, but also a surplus to sell. We encourage community members to set up stalls to sell their produce. Nano-loans enable farmers such as James to do this, and move up the economic ladder. With Haller’s help, he bought a wheelbarrow, which helps him transport surplus food to the market.
Biogas and Solar Kiosks
Our alternative energy programme provides communities with the skills and facilities to generate biogas and solar energy. This energy can then be sold through small kiosks.
Customers pay to re-charge their mobile phones and torch batteries, or buy cooking time on a biogas burner. Buying biogas for cooking is cheaper and more environmentally sustainable than buying firewood.
Many Kenyan girls miss school during menstruation because sanitary towels are too expensive. Haller works with women’s groups to make eco-sanitary towels out of local materials, which are both affordable and hygienic. These provide income to the women making them, and are delivered alongside an educational programme that aims to break the taboo connected with menstruation.
Haller is setting up a vocational workshop to teach community members how to make school uniforms. Haller will purchase the uniforms and distribute them at cost to the community schools we support. Teaching dressmaking skills will enable women to set up small businesses to sell school uniforms and other clothes to both their own and neighbouring communities.
Putting Money Back into the Community
Haller does not believe in giving money away for nothing, but we put money into the community where possible, in exchange for goods and services. We ask community members to dig their own dams, and then pay them for their work. When we need trees or seedlings, we source these from farmers we have trained, providing them with a little extra income. This income can be transformational to people’s lives. For instance, they can use it to buy a chicken to sell eggs, or to set up a stall to sell farm produce.
Haller teaches basic business skills such as bookkeeping, management of supplies and cash flows. We also help communities register as self-help groups so they can set up and run a community bank account. These skills will enable them to apply for micro-finance loans to invest and grow their business.
Joseph used a small loan from Haller to buy a donkey, so he could transport water from the dams, up a hill to the community centre. Here, he sold water to people who didn’t want to collect it themselves. He paid Haller back with the money he made, and now runs a successful small business.