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Meet Emilienne

1024 682 The Hunger Project Australia

Emilienne is from a small village in Benin; one of the poorest countries in the world where more than half of the population live on less than $1.90 per day. Debilitating hunger is widespread.

Emilienne didn’t go to school – her parents couldn’t afford the fees and they needed her to work on the family farm. Like many of her friends, she never learned to read or write. Before The Hunger Project came to her village, life was incredibly hard for Emilienne.

“I was working on the land. My earnings weren’t enough to feed my children.” Her children were malnourished. Every day was a struggle to survive and the future looked no different. “Saving money wasn’t possible. The thought of it didn’t even cross my mind.”

When we last visited Emilienne earlier this year, she was full of joy as she proudly showed us her thriving peanut cookie business. The eight women she employs were busy grilling peanuts, treating the peanut dough and frying cookies.

Emilienne was given an opportunity to change her life through The Hunger Project’s programs in her village. She received business skills training, literacy and numeracy education as well as a microfinance loan.

“I learned how to draw up a business plan and the importance of saving.”

She used the loan and skills she learned to start the peanut cookie business. Today, business is booming.

“I’m still applying the knowledge I gained in The Hunger Project’s entrepreneurship workshops” she says.

She has increased production and invested in new machinery to improve efficiency. When she first started, Emilienne was selling a small number of peanut cookies at the local markets.

“Now, I sell cookies in large quantities to other women who sell them individually. I also process 10 bags of 105 kg of peanuts a week, from which I make 5 large baskets of peanut butter and 250 litres of peanut oil.”


Emilienne is also determined to help others.

“I am a volunteer for the agricultural bank and I run leadership training in my community. I like to be active in my village. My children now attend school.”

Empower women like Emilienne today. 

Empowering women with financial freedom

1024 682 The Hunger Project Australia

Microfinancing programs provide a powerful platform from our village partners can transform their lives. They are empowered with knowledge and training about effective savings and credit practices, before they’re given access to microfinance loans that traditional banking systems usually deny those living in developing areas.

With as little as $60, we can provide one woman, who is currently living in poverty, with a microfinance loan and financial literacy training that will change her life. With the money she borrows she could start a small business, earn an income and provide for her family.

Microfinance loans are critical to ending hunger and poverty, as they result in sustainable change that benefits the whole community. Through the loans, small trade businesses are created, farming and agricultural practices improve, crop levels and storage capacity increases and a sense of economic independence evolves. As the economy improves and communities head toward self-reliance – nutritional, educational and healthcare practices also improve. Families can eat more nutritious food, illnesses are treated and prevented and children are able to attend school to become confident leaders of future generations.

The Hunger Project places women at the centre of our microfinance programs, not only because they account for 70% of the worlds’ hungry, but because when women are empowered the whole community benefits. They focus on the important issues, share their knowledge and they look for solutions to the challenges that face them.

Pictured: Emilienne from Benin. Emilienne runs a successful peanut cookie business.

Photo credit:Johannes Odé