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Meeting with The Rotary Club of Wall Street


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On Wednesday evening I attended a meeting of The Rotary Club of Wall Street. I passed on my greetings from South Africa, and more specifically from The Rotary Club of Algoa Bay in Port Elizabeth.

This would be the second time I’ve travelled halfway across the world this year to do so; the first being at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal. I was greeted by such a brilliant and successful group of Rotarians, with great passion and charitable spirit for the community they serve in New York. The guest speaker for the evening was Andy Kristian Agaba, Founder of Hiinga. Hiinga is a non-profit social enterprise fighting hunger & poverty through Micro-finance & Direct Trade in Africa. It aims to better the lives of smallholder farmers in East Africa who are suffering from chronic hunger and poverty. I was truly inspired by his talk and his recount of his life growing up in Uganda with a single parent, who had to support her family on less than $3 a day (which is the situation still today for most of the families in the village where he grew up). If I think that here in New York we spend triple that on a quick drink after work, I am quite horrified! He spoke about living in chronic poverty for years until the day when his mother got a loan of around $35 for the month. It was a day he will never forget because it changed their lives forever. Thinking in the long-term, his mother used the money to open a little shop where she sold basic groceries. In no time at all, the shop became a bustling business in her community and with the money she made from it, she was able to support all her children and even see Andy through college. Because of this experience, he has seen the benefits of how a small loan can change lives. He is a living example of one! Andy now wants to make a difference in the world and help other families like his own who are affected by poverty. In North African countries, Agriculture is the main trade. Many families find themselves with small acres of land to work. However, they don’t have enough money for the correct skill training and equipment to properly work the land and create a sustainable living.  He aims to, through micro-finance schemes and trade, end poverty in Africa by giving smallholder farmers the boost they need financially to gain the skills and resources to farm enough to feed their families and have surplus to sell and make a living. What a powerful goal! His talk was mainly focused on shedding light on the situation; that in spite of Eastern Africa having rich resources including fertile farmlands, there is entrenched poverty and a lack of investment to propel these communities out of poverty and hunger. Please do take a look at Hiinga’s website, Twitter and Facebook page to show your support in any way.

andy hinga

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