SEEKING SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC LIVELIHOOD IMPROVEMENTS FOR FEMALE SMALLHOLDER FARMERS IN MALI AND NIGER
Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) is the US-based entity of the global Islamic Relief (IR) organization, a faith-based humanitarian and development agency that serves over ten million people annually across 45 countries through relief and development projects in vulnerable communities. In 2019, IR launched its Qurbani Plus program, which focuses on creating financial self-sufficiency for low-income, female-headed farming households in Mali and Niger through an Islamic microfinance livelihood program. IRUSA tasked a Capstone team to review its program model and provide recommendations on improving its scalability and the long-term sustainability of beneficiary income streams. The team reviewed the academic literature on smallholder farmer value chain programs in West Africa, conducted a landscape analysis consisting of six peer humanitarian and development institutions, and interviewed key internal IR stakeholders. The team produced recommendations centered on conducting a livestock value chain assessment in Niger in order to maximize sustained income generation for IR’s beneficiaries.