Area of Focus: Economic Development
Project Title:   Economic Development for Women in Rural Bosnia and Herzegovina
Project Description:  Economic Development Project to provide training for small family growers in Stolac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The grant funded the acquisition of seeds and equipment to produce and package sun-dried tomatoes. It also provided for marketing and sales training and agricultural training by local University of Mostar agronomists.
Project Development
  1. How (and where) was the project conceived? 
    • The project was conceived in Bosnia when vacationing D5240 Rotarian Kay Bliss was introduced by a tour guide to the Executive Director of Udruzenje Orhideja, a local non-profit working with low-income women.
  2. How was the needs assessment was conducted? 
    • The initial needs assessment was conducted by Ojai Rotarians via Skype with Udruzenje Orhideja, the local non-profit. It was later augmented by an assessment conducted by the Rotary Club of Mostar, which became the Host Club.
  3. How were the partners identified and the partnership forged? 
    • RC Ojai had provided financial support to a GG done by RC Denver on human trafficking in Bosnia. RC Mostar had been the Host Club on that grant. Knowing this, RC Ojai asked for RC Denver’s reference and learned that RC Mostar had the capability to do a GG and had been a good partner on the trafficking project. RC Denver provided an introduction and RC Ojai contacted RC Mostar and explained the Stolac project proposal.  The local non-profit representative traveled to Mostar to meet with the Mostar club members, who in turn traveled to Stolac to do their own needs assessment and determine whether it was a project they wanted to participate in. An agreement was reached between the two Rotary Clubs to prepare a GG application.
  4. How was the budget determined? 
    • The month-by-month cash flow budget was developed based on the growing season and on processing, packaging, and marketing timetables.  As this was essentially a farming project, expenses were heavily front-loaded. These included the purchase of seeds, nursery costs for sprouting the seedlings, educational services of agronomists, and construction of drying racks. A van was purchased to transport seedlings and fertilizer to the participating small farms, to later transport the sun-dried tomatoes to the packaging facility, and ultimately to deliver the packaged product to market.
  5. How were the performance measures identified? 
    • Performance measures were defined by the month-to-month budget with benchmarks established for the delivery of seedlings, planting of seedlings, site visits by RC Mostar and by agronomists, timing of harvest and drying of tomatoes, delivery of dried tomatoes for processing and packaging, and delivery to market.
  6. How was the project designed to sustain itself? 
    • GG funded the first growing cycle, the upfront money for seed for the second growing season, and payment to the growers. The sale of the product in the first year paid the growers for the second year and bought the seeds for the third year. This cycle was repeated in subsequent years so that the program was self-financing and sustainable.
  7. How was funding pursued?  
    • RC Ojai contacted clubs in District 5240 and made presentations at their weekly meetings to explain the project and solicit cash and DDF. RC Ojai also contacted clubs outside of D5240 whose projects RC Ojai had supported in the past.  Among the clubs who responded was RC Denver, which donated both cash and DDF. 
Project Implementation
The $71,000 Global Grant, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ojai and the Rotary Club of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina introduced best practices tomato growing techniques into the area, and provided increased economic opportunity and a better environment for women in rural areas of Herzegovina.  The grant included (1) training unemployed women and their families in the production, drying, processing, and preserving of sun-dried tomatoes for the needs of the domestic market, and (2) providing equipment and training to increase sales capacity of cooperative marketing through the cooperating organization, Udruzenje Orhideja Stolac.
Eleven family groups (7 Bosniak Muslims, 3 Roman Catholic Croats, and 1 Serbian Eastern Orthodox), and other community members were trained during classes with agricultural specialists from University of Mostar, and received guidance from a local agronomist.  They planted, cultivated, harvested and dried tomatoes, that were sold in markets in Sarajevo and Mostar, and in various farmers markets, at prices far higher than they could receive for fresh tomatoes. 
Five Rotarians from Rotary Club of Ojai and E-Club of One World visited the project in Bosnia from September 30 – October 7, 2016.  They met with their host Rotarians, visited stores that were selling the products, toured the farms, and discussed marketing and distribution strategies with the cooperating organization and beneficiaries.
Project Outcome and Sustainability
This grant provided supplies, equipment and training to NGO Udruzenje Orhideja and their beneficiary women growers to raise, process and sell sun-dried tomatoes.  They were very successful and produced enough sun-dried tomatoes for 5,500 jars, which were all packaged by hand. They started the second growing season with more beneficiaries and expected to increase their output by 20-50% over the previous year.
In subsequent years, RC Ojai received District Grants to provide vacuum packaging equipment and graphic arts assistance for product branding.
Lessons Learned
  • Relationships with GG partners are extremely important to the development and implementation of a successful global grant.
  • The site visit was particularly helpful.
  • Good project planning, especially the use of a cash flow budget to drive the project forward, is essential.
  • Training programs for best practices in agriculture, sales and marketing were essential for sustainability.
  • Promoting peace was a valuable side effect of this project as it brought together people across the political and cultural divide that still exists in Bosnia to build trust through their working relationship.
Mike Weaver, Rotary Club of Ojai:

Ojai Rotarians Skyping with partners in Bosnia.
Udruzenje Orhideja Executive Director Minva Hasic and RC Mostar Rotarians meet in Stolac.
Beneficiary meeting at Udruzenje Orhideja.
Hothouse for seedlings.
Participant with dried tomatoes.
The finished product.