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Jordan River Foundation attempts to uplift poverty plagued rural areas

Through saving and credit groups, community members support each other with loans, which are invested in small businesses and projects

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Sep 12,2018 - Last updated at Sep 12,2018

AMMAN — The Jordan River Foundation (JRF) NGO, is currently implementing a series of training sessions on agribusiness across the governorates of Ajloun, Madaba, Mafraq, Jerash and Balqa, aimed at creating sustainable employment and income generating opportunities for youth and women among local communities. 

The training sessions will be implemented in collaboration with the Jordanian Enterprise for Development Corporation (JEDCO) and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The trainings are part of JRF’s rural economic development and employment project (REGEP), which attempts to reduce poverty and inequality across rural areas through the development of saving and credit groups combined with business mentoring and trainings for small farming groups. 

Through the saving and credit groups, members of the local community save money together and support each other with loans, which are later invested in small businesses and projects such as farming enterprises. 

Majd Sulaiman, community empowerment programme manager at JRF, told The Jordan Times that “although we have had saving and credit groups in Jordan for decades, this is the first time that it is done in an institutionalised way, allowing communities to come together and start initiatives they would not have been able to launch before”, adding that “this way, people develop a sense of ownership and commitment to their very own money, rather than relying on grants”. 

Over one year into the REGEP project, the JRF team has now started to train people in financial literacy, business development, access to finance and bookkeeping and community confidence groups. 

The new trainings are a result of an agreement between JRF and JEDCO following the completion of the programme’s first phase, which led to the creation of a total of 117 saving groups. 

“This year, the target is to create 120 new groups,” Sulaiman pointed out, noting that advanced business trainings are also being provided to beneficiaries of the programme’s first phase. 

Asked about the selection of the governorates targeted by the project, Sulaiman explained that “these are the areas where agriculture is one of the key income generators and this is what we are focusing on in order to fight the high levels of poverty affecting the rural population”. 

According to Jordan’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2013-2020, rural areas across the Kingdom suffer from the highest levels of poverty, 16.8 per cent of the population living there, live in poverty and an additional 28.8 per cent of the rural population are in situations of vulnerability. 

“In order to address this issue, JRF will support beneficiaries of the project beyond the end of the trainings,” Sulaiman said, noting that the cycle of trainings will conclude around the end of this year. 

“Beneficiaries of the project will receive mentoring and coaching through the process, and our staff will support them in a daily basis to help them make progress in their projects, linking them with the necessary entities to achieve success in their initiatives,” she concluded.  

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