2013 is now behind us and 2014 has begun. 2013 was a year of transformation for Better Globe. Sales of Trees and Donation Packages were steady and followed the same pattern as the previous year. With record sales in December, Better Globe ended the year with more than 100,000 trees sold to Better Globe customers and Ambassadors around the world.
Unfortunately, we were unable to plant our anticipated number of trees in 2013 due to necessary plantation maintenance. After planting almost 100,000 tree seedlings, we discovered after six months that the quality of the seeds we had bought were not good enough, and we had no other choice than to buy other seeds and replant the tree seedlings again. We are still in the process of replanting those trees and are a little behind our schedule. When we get our own laboratory, we can avoid such problems in the future.
In spite of a negative result with some of the tree planting, 2013 was fortunate to Better Globe's operations in Kenya in many other ways. One of the highlights of last year was building and creating a start-up for the microfinance bank in Sosoma, where over 600 families are involved in the project and are recognized as members of the bank. The prospected interest rate is approximately 15%, which is not bad for microfinance projects, whereas the regular bank interest rate is 20-25%.
Though insurance was previously unavailable to impoverished people, members of this bank are finally eligible for insurance! Every member with coverage receives an insurance benefit of ksh20,000 (Kenyan shilling) in the case of death. The members also own the bank and whatever comes out as profit in the end will be used to give the owners better possibilities for growth.
We also made new positive discoveries concerning Acacia Senegal. Ben Chikamai, newest board member of Better Globe Forestry (also Managing Director in KEFRI and the foremost expert in Africa on Acacia and gum Arabic trees), suggested that if we established a factory for "Spray drying" gum arabic, we would earn a price 7-10 times higher than if we just sold raw gum. We have already begun the necessary steps to plant Acacia Senegal in Sosoma.
Approximately 3,600 mango trees were grafted and planted in Nyongoro during 2013, and 16,000 non-grafted mango trees were donated to schools in cooperation with KenGen, the biggest power company in Kenya. KenGen is so excited about our work at Lake Kiambere that they want us to do the same around several other areas with dams, because trees are preventing sand from entering the dams during rainy seasons. Negotiations are still in effect. Based on our new discoveries of better sales price on gum, we may shift from Mango to Acacia trees as our main cash crop. This will be officially decided upon the first half of 2014.
Better Globe Forestry has been accepted as the only private sector partner of ICRAF (World Agro Forestry Centre) for cooperation on several development projects in ASAL in Kenya. To be recognized by ICRAF and the World Agro Forestry Center is a very big honor for Better Globe. More information on this will be published when the projects will start.
Better Globe Forestry has been testing out the production of some smaller souvenir products made from Mukau. This will be the first of a series of products made from Mukau and will hopefully be a good income generator for the company in the coming year, together with other cash crops from the different trees we have planted. All in all 2013 was a year of many interesting findings, and Better Globe Forestry is definitely on the right track for 2014.
Better Globe's "charity partner" Child Africa has had a good year with many new changes and developments, among them a totally new vision in 2014. After over 20 years of running Child Africa with the vision "To build more schools in Africa than any other organization," they have changed their vision and purpose. The new Child Africa vision is now:
The reason for this change is their 20 years of experience with seeing thousands of young people graduating from Universities in Uganda without any possibility of getting a job. They have concluded that "general education is not enough" to succeed in Africa. Therefore they want to MAKE CHAMPIONS OF AFRICAN CHILDREN so they can become strong enough to fight for better futures, regardless of problems they encounter in life. Child Africa has already proven that building Honesty and Integrity in children gives them qualities that will make them strong. Six children who started in Child Africa as kids now have University degrees and are working for Child Africa.
Child Africa has planned the construction of two new schools in Uganda and each school will enroll 2,500 children. These schools will be the only schools owned and run by Child Africa. Child Africa will spread their training in Honesty and Integrity to schools all over Africa. Training manuals for teachers will be available for free download from the Bingwa website. When children have completed the training, they will be able to download their "Bingwa Integrity Certificates". Later, Child Africa will be certifying schools in Africa for being "Integrity Schools."
Child Africa already has the marketing tool for this work in their FREE magazine BINGWA (Champion). You can download their brochure of the new Vision and Mission here. This year they will print 50,000 Bingwa magazines and distribute them for free to schools in five countries. This will be in coordination with "The Day of the African Child" 16th June every year ahead. Each Bingwa magazine is read by over 100 children, and this year they will reach approximately five million children. Next year they hope to double the number, and hopefully in 5-6 years they can print and distribute one million copies of Bingwa across Africa. You can also learn more about Bingwa here on BetterGlobeTrees.com, read more about our Bingwa Seal for corporate use.
Child Africa had a successful press conference in both Kenya and Uganda about fighting corruption by building integrity in African children. The Minister of Ethics and Integrity in Uganda was the Guest of Honor who praised Child Africa for fighting corruption. The press conference launching Child Africa's new vision was covered on several TV channels, radio stations and newspapers.
I hope you are as excited as I am about Better Globe and Child Africa in 2014.
If you would like to support Bingwa and the new vision, you can do that here.
If you want to feel good, do something for others at www.childafrica.org
Learn more about Better Globe.