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Stories of Life Change

It started with a single cow

March 12, 2019

Sayumi’s story started with her farm and a single cow.

Sayumi’s life wasn’t easy. It was simple, but she had to work exceedingly hard just to survive.

She tended her family’s farm every single day, which provided them just enough to get by. Still, her family's life was full of uncertainty. They didn’t have money saved. They didn’t have much in terms of livestock, and in Tanzania, that’s how many farmers invest their money.

But then Sayumi join a Plant With Purpose farming group to learn how to grow more crops through organic practices. She ended up learning many skills, from making compost soil to preventing soil erosion to starting a small business to taking care of livestock sustainably.

She didn’t have a cow to practice her new skills on, but a neighbor did. Sayumi offered to help take care of the cow if she could have the cow’s second offspring. The neighbor agreed.

In the right hands a cow can be a powerful investment.

In the right hands, a cow is a powerful investment.

Eventually the cow became hers.

“After some time,” Sayumi recalls, “the cow had yet to reproduce. The neighbors said they wanted to sell it.”

“I realized that with my group, I could keep the cow. I then borrowed 600,000 shillings and I bought that cow I had been taking care of.”

Meanwhile, Sayumi’s farm started producing more. Her income from crops was increasing and with it, she quickly began paying off her loan.


Her life improved slowly at first, and then things really took off.

First, the cow reproduced. “I then started milking the cow and started selling the milk. That allowed me to repay the loan quickly,” she says.

This example illustrates why livestock is a transformative investment for many of the world’s rural poor. Offspring or dairy products can quickly open new opportunities.

Sayumi's family isn’t done making moves to ensure a better future. They recently took out a loan in order to buy a second farm.

“I was doing well with my past investments," she explains. "My husband saw how much the group was helping me, so he decided to join himself.”

Sayumi and her husband have gone from taking care of a neighbor’s cow to purchasing a second farm. It’s amazing to think of what they might do next.

Change happens one decision at a time, one month at a time. Want to help women like Sayumi see further progress? Learn more about becoming a Purpose Partner.

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