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ARC Home > News and Resources > News archive:

Muslim African projects

May 4, 2005:

By Professor Muhammad Hyder of the Muslim Civic Education Trust in Kenya.

I want to tell you two stories. One is about fishing, and the other is about tomatoes.

"We salute ARC on her Tenth Anniversary and we wish her and all her Muslim partners success in facing up to one of the most intractable modern challenges - helping Muslims rediscover their traditional entrepreneurial skills."
The Muslim fishermen of Kenya have learned over the past twenty or thirty years to use tightly meshed nets and sometimes even dynamite. The result, as you can imagine, is that they are, killing a lot of the younger fish. This means that those of us in Kenya who care about environmental resources are worried that in a generation’s time there will be almost no fish at all.

But we are now planning to revive the traditional Swahili fish-trap which captures only mature fish, is handmade from renewable resources and could generate sufficient income to support many unemployed young people. Tourists might even pay to see them!

The second scenario is set inland – on the rich soil of Kenya. I want you to imagine a field that is red with tomatoes. Well-managed, an acre can produce as much as 50,000 kilos of fruits and can give a net profit of about sixteen hundred dollars a month. The only trouble is that the investment is expensive, and tomatoes go off quickly.

So now add one extra ingredient: a 3iG investor who starts a tomato processing plant to produce tomato ketchup, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato juice, etc. Apart from the employment this would create, thousands of men and women could be out-growers, with enormous benefits to both the investor and the farmers.

It might seem funny to talk about handmade fish traps and tomato ketchup as a way to save the world a little bit, but these are just models of how a different kind of thinking can make people richer today and in the future.

Sub-Saharan Africans are now the poorest people in the world, and Sub-Saharan African Muslims are the worst off of all. Before 9-11, there had been some Muslim Aid Organizations working in the region, but after 2001 they have found it difficult to help Faith-based Community development without being labelled as either ‘Al Qa'eda sympathizers’ or ‘Western collaborators’.

These organizations now desperately need development partners to give them the necessary imprimatur of respectability. This is the area in which ARC has been, and will be, an important ally.

We salute ARC and we wish her and all her Muslim partners success in facing up to one of the most intractable modern challenges - helping Muslims rediscover their traditional entrepreneurial skills.

AMEN.



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