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24 November 2015 | Posted By: iDE

Double Your Impact, Then Multiply by 10.

ideorg Blog Photo


This is our best campaign ever. It’s inspired by entrepreneurs like Gita, who are ready for a new opportunity, more security, and better ways to use the resources they already have. You can read about what life is like for Gita here. But this campaign is also inspired by people like you who want to be involved in working with entrepreneurs. People who let their heart, and their brain, guide their giving. Welcome to the Ready For Business campaign. Here are the details.



When you give to iDE before December 31, 2015, your gift will be doubled. An anonymous donor will match, dollar for dollar, each donation we receive, up to $20,000. There’s never been a better time to give.



Not only do we believe in the power of the entrepreneur, we also believe in data. We measure how we empower women through our work and how we improve household nutrition. But our most important measurement is household income. In Cambodia, every $1 invested generates $18 in income for a household. In Ethiopia, every donor dollar generates $6 in income. Your average return on investment across all eleven iDE countries is 1:10.

These numbers are important for our donors to know, but they are more important for our program teams to analyze. We are driven to see where the challenges are if the ratios are lower than we want. We generally see higher ROI in Asia than we do in Africa because markets are generally stronger in Asian countries. Many African countries require a significantly higher investment to get a market moving. We also know that when we first start in a country and we are in the first few years of operation, we will see low ROI as we build the program.

We are constantly pushing ourselves to achieve the highest efficiency possible as this is an indicator that we are making an impact on global poverty AND that our market based approach works.

We’re ready for business. Click here if you would like to join us in our best campaign ever.

24 September 2015 | Posted By: iDE

Building Partnerships at World Water Week

WWW drip event 800

Each year, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) organizes World Water Week, and this year’s theme related directly to iDE and our work with the rural poor. The theme this year: ‘Water for Development’.

The challenges we face in providing access to water for all, and sustaining the water resources on our planet, were topics of conversation throughout the week. Sustainable Development Goals will set a standard for universal access to water and sanitation by 2030, which – along with productive water for agriculture use – will deeply impact poverty.

iDE was proud to be a unique voice during the week, conveying firsthand the effectiveness in tapping the power of business to fight poverty.

Our panel discussion on drip irrigation brought together, for the first time, three of the largest irrigation companies in the world: Jain, Netafim, and Toro. All three are focused on bringing the next generation of drip irrigation technology to the rural poor. And our new market data – research on why consumers would purchase such a product, and what conditions are required for adoption – stands out as an important contribution to industry knowledge.

Our panel on sanitation included representation from iDE, Kohler and Grand Challenges Canada – a unique partnership that is addressing the need for clean water in Nepal. The panel candidly discussed the opportunities and the challenges they’re facing and as they learn how to leverage each other’s strengths to make impact.

Our message – that business is an effective tool to fight poverty – resonates well. All around the conference, the private sector is a critical and coveted partner. While the conversation continues, we are back at work, helping design better products, bridging the last mile to reach more customers, and ultimately bringing opportunities to the world’s rural poor. 

It’s a 32-year journey we are proud to continue, and it’s exciting to make this part of the journey with new partners.

12 May 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Update from Nepal


Nepal was still in a state of fear and disorganization as the government works to distribute aid and mend when an additional earthquake shook the country on May 12, 2015. iDE is thankful to report, once again, that no staff members were hurt during this most recent event.

“People are really terrorized, it was just starting to feel a little normal, now people are again afraid to go in their homes, offices, most people are sleeping and staying outside,”  said Luke Colavito, iDE Nepal Country Director.

Colavito was driving to pick up his son when he felt the ground shake and saw the new damage. “This aftershock was very bad, many damaged buildings have collapsed and new buildings are damaged.” As his mind shifts to those outside of Kathmandu, he says, “I’m afraid that in the rural areas it will have brought down many more of the already damaged mud brick homes that poor farmers live in. These farmers will have lost their possessions and stored food. It’s a tremendous setback.”

Even before the second earthquake, Colavito was thinking ahead and planning an agricultural recovery support program and rapid latrine installation to prevent cholera and other waterborne diseases.

“Right now people are in shock and aren’t able to focus on the need to begin planting,” says Luke. The iDE Nepal team is establishing nurseries to grow seedlings so in a month, after people start to recover, they will not have missed out on a prime growing season.

The iDE Nepal team remains dedicated to improving the lives of the poorest of the poor who live in remote corners of the country. In the coming months, as Nepal looks to rebuild and regain some normalcy, iDE’s work will be of paramount importance and influence.

Join us in helping more families get back on their feet with agricultural recovery support.




30 April 2015 | Posted By: iDE

A Bad Luck/Good Luck Story


By Bob Nanes
Tanke Village, Nepal

Saturday, April 25th started in Tanke village in the hills of Central Nepal  just like any other day. The sounds of barnyard animals, people stirring, clearing their throats. The sunlight reflected off the irrigated rice paddies on the valley floor. Some people began to move out to some of the nearby fields to do some casual weeding and other field tasks. But Saturday was often a day with little activity.  For those families who were lucky enough to have a TV, they would often sit with several families inside and watch their favorite TV dramas or variety shows.

But on this Saturday, the electricity went off some time in the morning. Bad luck, there would be no family TV time today. So people went about other tasks. The women of the village headed off together to the nearby forest to gather fodder and firewood. The men gathered in the village center for a group meeting. And the children played with their friends around the houses and in the fields.

But just before noon, the largest earthquake in the last 80 years struck Nepal and shook the village violently. Most of the mud houses in the village collapsed completely. Bad luck. In the aftermath, as people rushed back to their houses and to find their family members, there was chaos and tragedy. A four year old child was dead, crushed inside a house. Some of the livestock was also dead, crushed by tumbling walls. But the bad luck electricity cut of earlier in the day turned out to be amazing good luck. What could have caused dozens, or even hundreds of deaths, caused only the one, as tragic as it is.

IDE Nepal has been working in Tanke village for several years. In collaboration with the community and local government, they supported the building of a solar powered multiple use water system that lifts water from the valley floor, and distributes it for household use and also feeds into drip irrigation systems to produce vegetables for sale. IDE staff had been in contact with the villagers after the quake and been informed about the scope of the tragedy. With the support of offices and private donors in the US, Canada and the UK, IDE had mobilized to deliver food and plastic shelter material to Tanke village.

When we entered the village, the destruction was unbelievable. What had been a lively collection of houses along a scenic ridge in central Nepal, was now a scene of utter devastation. Most of the houses had collapsed, and everyone was living in slapdash tents made of small pieces of plastic stuck together as well as possible. Nobody, even those whose houses had not collapsed, were sleeping inside because of the frequent aftershocks.

But surprisingly, the mood was not morose. People were going about their tasks as if this was just another day. We were greeted in the normal friendly manner of Nepali farm folk. People were happy to talk to us and tell us their stories. There was no trace of self-pity.  Perhaps their normally difficult life had prepared them for the current and future hardships. Would we be so adaptable in the same situation?  I think not.

So now the long slow process of bringing life back to normal begins. The villagers are not short on food, but were in desperate need of safe and dry shelter. The plastic tarps that we brought were the most important thing to them. But how will they move forward in re-building their lives? I imagine that living in tents will become the new norm for months, or possibly years to come.

Life is so precious. It is hard to believe sometimes that the difference between life and death can be determined by something as random as a power outage, or where you stand while viewing the Boston Marathon, or which flight you decide to take while flying from Spain to Germany. But that is the case, and sometimes no matter how we plan or watch or protect, life can stay or go through a simple twist of fate.


Help iDE Nepal reach more remote villages with food and shelter. Donate here.

Bob Nanes was formerly the head of the Technology and Innovation Group in the Denver Headquarters of iDE. He was in charge of supporting the iDE country programs in technology development, agriculture program development, global equipment supply, agriculture knowledge management and micro finance. In his 24 years with iDE he also worked as Country Director in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Ghana and as the Director of Training. He also started and ran an irrigation contracting business and a food processing business. He is currently a consultant to iDE. He has his degree in Agricultural Engineering from Cornell University.


6 April 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Noelle’s Red Dirt Brings in the Green



Imagine standing on Noelle’s farm with her at your side.  She starts her day before sunrise.  She is ready to face another long, sweltering day working on her farm.  Her crops depend on the water she brings them to survive; her family depends on her.

You look down at your feet you notice a thin layer of red dust on your shoes.  As your gaze moves to the horizon you see a dry field of red dirt and Noelle’s clay covered house in the distance.  And you see her most prized possession – rows of precisely ordered zucchini plants.  Looking closer, you see a drip irrigation system that is delivering to her crop just the right amount of water.

Speaking in French, Noelle says she first saw drip irrigation at an iDE demonstration farm over 18 months ago.  It was in that moment she decided to buy a system for herself. She started working with one of iDE’s local Farm Business Advisors who helped her to set up her drip irrigation system, plant and harvest her zucchini crop, and find a buyer in the local market.  As one of the only farmers growing zucchini during the dry season, she is thrilled to receive the highest price possible for her crops. In just one harvest Noelle’s income went up more than $500, three times as much as she was making before using drip irrigation and growing such a valuable crop!

What is next for Noelle you ask?

Like every good business owner, Noelle has her mind on expansion.  She wants more farmable land and to purchase a larger drip irrigation system.  She is also looking to grow moringa, a nutritional supplement high in protein, vitamins A, B, and C, and calcium.  There is a burgeoning demand for moringa so she can anticipate even more income in the future.

It is only because of donor support that iDE is able to have an office in Burkina Faso and assist farmers like Noelle in becoming successful entrepreneurs. To date, we have served 3,000 farmers in Burkina Faso alone, who have collectively earned over $180,000 in the last two years.

Continued donor support means more income for farmers in Burkina Faso and other iDE countries around the world. Every $1 donated to iDE equals $10 in additional income for farmers.

Thank you for investing in entrepreneurs.


6 March 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

A Small Loan Makes All the Difference in Bangladesh

Mitali Mondol-21, w/o Bipul Mondal live in Natherkandi village under Harta union of Wazirpur Upazila. They have not kid. Before involvement with ide-B Mitali worked as a house wife and occasionally worked as a day labor. With the support IDE she has established as shop selling grocery items and tea. Full time she works in the shop. Her husband is a day labor. Mitali is very happy now as she is earning money and household members acknowledge her as she is a earning member of the HH and use to meal 3 times a day that was 2 times before involvement with IDE.


Men are decision makers, women are a burden.

This is just one of the sentiments that was seen as culturally appropriate in Bangladesh only 40 years ago. Today, women are making their voices heard and taking lead roles within the Bangladeshi government.

Unfortunately, these strides have not trickled down to the poorest and most marginalized women, specifically in the southern region of Bangladesh. Women here serve as day laborers, or are involved in unpaid domestic work and small scale homestead vegetable production. This means they are dependent on seasonal work, and on their husband’s incomes. Even when earning an income themselves, women have little say as to how it is spent. This is where iDE is making a difference.

A few years ago, iDE started a project in Bangladesh to target poor and marginalized women in southern Bangladesh. We established small groups of women, who received training and a loan to start their own small farming business. The goal was to support them in earning a higher income and give them more confidence to voice their opinion.


iDE trained these women in business planning, and money management.  They were also supported in choosing the best technologies to invest in, in orderto make their business profitable. These technologies included jute sacks, pond dikes and “floating” farm techniques which provided them with more space to grow vegetables . When you grow more, you earn more.


Hasina Begum was part of a women’s group. She expanded her homestead gardening using techniques learned from the iDE training sessions. She used the loan to lease land and started cultivating vegetables on a larger scale, which she then sold to nearby markets. The profits she earned were used to repair her house. Most importantly, she can now afford three meals a day, instead of struggling to even provide one. Now that’s life changing!

Mitali Mondol also received iDE support. She set up a small shop in her neighborhood. Another woman, Gita, used her profits and bought a cart which she now rents to a puller, which gives her a regular, sustainable source of income.

When the most marginalized women significantly raise their income, it leads to many material and social benefits. The women reported greater decision making power within their household over expenditures. With their new income, they can now afford to buy three meals a day, medicine and educational materials for their children. We are grateful for the support from donors, which gave us the opportunity to make a difference for these women.

5 March 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Determination and Success in Ethiopia – Demu Bikila

2.2014 TulluBollo, Ethiopia Demu Bikila (24)_edited

In Ethiopia much of the land is owned by men. In fact, it is out of the ordinary to meet a female farmer who owns the land where she lives and works. This is only one of the reasons why Demu Bikila so exceptional.

From Addis Ababa, head southwest and you will intersect with a small town called Tulu Bolo. Turning from the highway down a dirt road, through an empty field, and over a dried up irrigation ditch, finally coming to the lush field and home of Demu.

Demu confidently starts to explain that she has been growing cabbage for four harvests and that she keeps only 50% for consumption and sells the other 50% to a nearby market via her farmer group. Demu says the iDE Farm Business Advisors (FBA) connected her to a local bank where she received a micro-loan so she could purchase a treadle pump and good seeds. The FBAs also helped her to find the best spot to set up her treadle pump and build out her field. She uses the proceeds from selling half of her harvest at the market to pay back her loan and for other expenses.

She says she uses the other funds to send two of her 5 children to school. She hopes that one day she will have enough money to send all of her children to school.

When asked what she used to do before farming, she says she took care of the home and children and that her husband was the farmer. Demu’s husband passed away a few years ago.

It was not long after Demu was introduced to iDE that she decided to join her local farmer group. She says, “Before iDE, I had no knowledge of agriculture and bought all of my food at the market.” You can imagine what a shock it was to her to have to learn a new trade and be the sole breadwinner for her family. Demu took it all in stride.

Her determined spirit and children kept her going. She is a minority as a woman and a land owner in Ethiopia, and now she has the knowledge and the tools for success. She can now say with a smile that she is a successful businesswoman and community leader.

2.2014 TulluBollo, Ethiopia Demu Bikila (21)
| Posted By: Ilana Martin

Florence and the machines!


Gardening with iDE technology generates income for Florence. She has improved her families lives and her husband is much closer to her.

Economic opportunities are extremely limited for rural women in Zambia. Women generally have fewer assets than men and limited opportunities to make money. They have difficulty gaining access to the money and credit they need to buy products and technologies and set up small businesses that generate income. And when it comes to economic decision making and agency to influence their husbands’ choices over the use of resources women have restricted power.

iDE’s Rural Prosperity Initiative (RPI) aims to empower women small-scale farmers to improve their incomes and positions in society using an innovative market orientated approach that focuses on improving access to productive water. iDE does not do giveaways. The only thing that is offered to women is training and advise on business, entrepreneurship and agronomy to give them the means to grow vegetables in the dry-season. To succeed women must invest their own money in the products and technologies that enable them to use their improved skills and knowledge in a meaningful way. iDE helps women small-scale farmers who cannot afford these products with loans facilitated through CETZAM MFI on a commercial basis. Ownership of technologies enables them to generate the revenue to repay the loans within six months, with a 97% repayment rate, to date.

Florence’s Story: Florence Mapulanga is a typical farmer from Kapini village, Chibombo in Zambia. She spends her life gardening whilst her husband is away in town during the week working as a bus driver. In 2006 she was struggling to sustain her large extended family. Her five children, mother in law, step son and his wife, brother and her brother in law all lived in a small, cramped traditional mud hut with thatched roof and even with their combined income they often went hungry

Despite their difficulties, Florence was determined to do all she could to make a better future for her family so she joined an iDE farm group later that year, under RPI, iDE’s flagship programme. She attended specialised workshops where she learnt about efficient water usage and a range of micro-irrigation technologies which can be used to access water in the dry season. With her husband’s wage and her efforts they saved enough to buy a small motor pump. Armed with her pump and improved knowledge about crop production (beans, cabbage, Irish potato, tomatoes, eggplant and courgette) from an iDE training session she was able to produce better quality and quantities of vegetables to sell at the market.

After working with iDE over a five year period, using iDE’s approach over consecutive growing seasons, in addition to her own exceptional management (including good agronomic practices and careful pest and disease control) her annual income has increased ten-fold from $200 a year (less than $1 a day) to $2000. She has lavished her money on her family. Today they all have three meals a day and a variety of nutritious foods. A larger solid brick house with a tin roof provides them with more comfort and space. And a solar panel powers new amenities such as a TV, phone and radio which has improved their quality of life and provided light so her children can do their schoolwork in the evening, giving them the best chance to succeed in life.

Florence says that her success has bought her closer to her husband: “He respects me more because I am not a sleeping housewife”. This respect, gained through her hard effort and entrepreneurship has enabled her to make important economic and managerial decisions that affect her and her family’s lives. For example she makes all the day to day decisions on her farm when her husband is away in town. He says, “she is the one who knows everything about gardening! She is the boss!” Her husband even trusts her with purchasing new products and technologies to further improve their lives, however most of the time they discuss all their options and make major decisions together as a unit. Unlike many other women in her community Florence’s voice is heard.

Her commitment to iDE’s philosophy resulted in her decision to invest heavily in widening her water application technology base (facilitated through iDE staff) with a variety of water saving and efficiency benefits. She bought:

  • A treadle pump in 2009 which she uses when she can’t afford petrol for her pump,
  • Two water storage tanks for convenience and efficiency as well as water quantification and regulation
  • A brand new drip irrigation system facilitated by iDE’s latest innovation the community Farm Business Advisor (FBA) – a local farmer and entrepreneur who gains commission from the sale of irrigation and other technologies, products and services.


A quiet, shy woman, Florence comes to life when she talks about how she will use her existing and new micro-irrigation technologies to support her new farm plan. She is currently clearing land to expand by 0.2 ha and set up the drip and tank set to grow watermelons for the first time. Once it is set up it can be left to irrigate in a self sustaining system. She also plans on distributing fertilizer through her pump and drip system (fertigation) ensuring each plant gets the right amount of nutrients directly to their roots.

Florence smiles happily at her prospects; “watermelon is something different from most farmers which means more money in my pocket!”

Florence is an inspirational woman, working on the farm full time, paying for her children to be in school and supporting her extended family.

With iDE’s help she has the confidence to focus on gardening as a lucrative business opportunity and alongside an improved quality of life has gained greater respect from her husband and the community. More women in rural Zambia can follow Florence’s path by working with iDE, even with limited means and an environment that is far from conducive to do so.

iDE’s has been investing in water technology for the rural poor and the economic empowerment of women for over 15 years in Zambia. It is from this experience that the importance of recognising and promoting women as agents of their own change has come to bear increased pertinence. iDE understand that approaching gender related issues is not a tick box exercise that merely requires inclusion of women but rather, involves appreciating and understanding women as decision makers with needs and aspirations.

Women’s invaluable contribution to rural development should be recognized!


3 March 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Kim Sreng is growing a farm—and a family— in Siem Reap, Cambodia.



With a little training and a lot of hard work, entrepreneur Kim Sreng has turned a plot of land into a tomato empire.

She inherited land, but was not sure what to do with it until she visited a demonstration farm run by iDE. She had previously been growing cucumbers and selling them for a low price, but after seeing the income potential of a tomato farm she decided to start training with iDE.  Seven harvests later, she has grown over 6.5 tons (or 13,000 pounds) of tomatoes with a net profit of over $12,000.  In a country where the average yearly income is only $1,000 USD, her farm is a testament to the power of her entrepreneurship.

Her successful business has allowed her to invest where it matters most – her family.

The most important change in her life was the birth of her first child.  Cambodia has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, but Kim was able to afford to have her baby in a hospital rather than at home.  She is proud to say her baby is happy and healthy.

As a working mother of a young baby, she is grateful to have her husband spend more time at home.  Because she is so successful, he doesn’t have to travel for work anymore and can work on the farm instead.

She has transformed her life over last three years for the better and there are many more changes to come.  In  fact, next year Kim and her husband plan to build a new house for their growing family. Until then, they are looking forward to having electricity in their home for the first time.

Kim has worked hard to make her farm so profitable. She plans to further her training with iDE and invest in more agricultural technology so her farm, and her family, can continue to thrive.




16 January 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Postcard Earnings bring Privacy and Heath in a New Latrine


Many people visit the temples in Cambodia’s Siem Reap Province for holiday; but for Mrs. Teou Lang, daily visits to the temple are her living. She sells postcards at the Phrea Khan temple each day to help her husband, a gardener, support their four children. When she is home with her children, Teou is constantly thinking about her family’s health. Their wellbeing and happiness is important to her, and it is for this reason that she bought a latrine in 2012 for 170,000 KHR (USD$42.50).

After a few Sanitation Teachers coordinated with her village chief and held a meeting for many families in the Leang Daiy Commune, Teou and her husband became interested in the idea of a latrine. She explains that iDE’s representatives gave her more information than anyone else has about the benefits of a latrine, and much of this information was in the form of easy-to-understand illustrations.

Prior to owning a latrine, Teou and her family would walk to open areas in the field and defecate in a hole they dug each time. She says her family’s health is now “completely different,” and hypothesizes that this is due to the latrine being more sanitary than open defecation, particularly because it is an enclosed hut and all waste is far underground, ensuring diseases do not spread as easily to her home and her food supply. The latrine shelter also prevents the family from spending excess time in cold or rainy weather, which has decreased how often they get the flu.

Today, it is easier than ever for Teou and her family to stay healthy. She says she has never had to fix the sturdy latrine, she finds it very easy to clean, and she only has to refill the water basin twice each week. She is proud that her family owns a latrine, and now finds it easier to comfortably have guests and relatives at her home.

In the future, Teou only hopes that more families will be able to afford latrines as well. She acknowledges how difficult it is for poorer Cambodian homes to purchase a latrine but she hopes that this changes in the future as iDE continues to help in the Siem Reap Province. She feels particularly passionate about the positive effects to be had from village talks sponsored by iDE or Sanitation Teachers.



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