Whole Planet Foundation recently received this story from the IRC in Phoenix, one of our microfinance partners in the United States. Since 2008, we have given opportunity to more than 30,000 clients in 14 U.S. cities thanks to partners like IRC. All photo credits: Lindy Drew.
Mr. Koffi Ogou came to the United States as a refugee on February 5, 2008 from his home country of Togo. He is a long-time farmer in the IRC’s New Roots gardening/farming program in Phoenix. Mr. Ogou used his recent loan from Whole Planet Foundation to purchase tomato, corn, watermelon, and okra seeds for the spring planting season. He currently sells his products to numerous farmers markets in the city and also to the New Roots/IRC sponsored CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that has been in operation since 2011.
Mr. Ogou’s business, Bio-Gou Farms, has been in operation for the past 5 years and has remained steady in profits and growth. In addition to his business, Mr. Ogou works full-time as a caregiver for the elderly. Mr. Ogou has already begun repayments on his loan and is in perfect status with no delinquencies or past-dues.
Mr. Ogou is farming leader in the Phoenix community. He recently participated in a cooking demo alongside regional celebrity chef, Chris Bianco, at a local music festival in Phoenix on April 30th, 2016.
Whole Planet’s Loan Funds are administered as part of IRC’s Microenterprise Programs. These programs offer not only access to affordable financing for underserved borrowers, but also support entrepreneurs with intensive 1-on-1 technical assistance. For refugees and other individuals who are unfamiliar with the U.S. business environment and regulations, simply having a trusted place when they can go to ask questions about business feasibility and the start-up process is crucial.