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Practical ideas for micro-enterprises

Business ideas for micro-enterprises and small businesses

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From: Microenterprise – Footsteps 35

Ideas and advice for developing successful small businesses

Crunchy Peanut Bars

You will need…

  • 1kg (4 cups) roasted peanuts
  • 1kg (4 cups) water
  • 2kg (8 cups) brown sugar (use white if brown is not available)

Shell and roast the peanuts until lightly brown. Cashew and other similar nuts could also be used. Grind them coarsely.

Dissolve the sugar in the water and heat until it begins to thicken. Add the peanuts and stir constantly to prevent burning. Test regularly for setting by dropping small amounts into cold water in a cup. When it forms hard balls remove from heat and pour either into a shallow tin or onto a greased board. Roll to a sheet 1/2cm thick and cut into small bars before it cools and sets. (You’ll need a hammer once it has set!) Wrap with cellophane or wax paper.

WARNING: Getting the setting point right is all important. There are only a few minutes between soft balls (which will not set), hard balls and a pan of burnt sugar! Experiment first with smaller quantities. BOILING SUGAR IS VERY DANGEROUS – KEEP CHILDREN AWAY.

The Cook

Maria Neide Da Silva gets up at 2.30 every Saturday morning to prepare her market stall in the small town of Princesa Isabel, in north-east Brazil. She cooks breakfasts and lunches for the people coming to the market. She’s been helped by loans from Ação Evangélica, a group of evangelical churches in the region which operates a micro-enterprise scheme to combat local poverty. It’s hard work, but it makes a big difference to the family’s income. With the extra money the business brings in, she and her husband have been able to gradually build a home for themselves and their children.

The dress-maker

MARIA DALCIA RIBEIRO DE BRITO has a part-time job in a sewing workshop in Imaculada, in north-east Brazil. The business was started by João and Jacilene Caetano, seeking ways of earning income in an area with very low employment. They borrowed a small room in an outbuilding, and with a loan from Ação Evangélica bought three sewing machines. The business has gone well, and they’ve been able to pay off the loan, although they’ve had to respond to changes in the market in order to keep the business going.

The uses of beeswax

HERE IN ARU, N E CONGO, we find beekeeping to be a most hopeful activity for raising income and also for raising funds to support the Church. We always encourage the use of Kenyan Top Bar hives which improves the profits and the quality of honey. Here are some ideas for the reader asking about the use of beeswax.

Separating the wax

After extracting the honey, bees, dirt, and eggs need to be removed before the wax can be used. The easiest way to do this is to boil the wax in water and stir well while boiling. Leave the pan to cool somewhere it will not be disturbed. You will find the wax sets on top of the water with all the dirt still in the water. Remove the disc of wax and scrape off any dirt still on the bottom side of the wax.

Making candles

1. Prepare the stem of a papaya leaf or similar hollow stem to the length required.

2. Thread a piece of thick cotton or flax string through the tube and tie it to a piece of grass at each end of the tube to keep it tight and in the centre of the tube. If string is not available a thin strip of cotton material twisted into a cord can be used in the same way. If you can soak the string in kerosene first, this improves the candle, but is not essential.

3. Stand the tube on sand or soil so it will not fall over.

4. Melt the wax over gentle heat until liquid.

5. Pour into the prepared tube and leave the candle to set for an hour or two before moving.

6. Slit the tube lengthways and carefully remove the candle, now ready for use.

Now you can have light without expense!

An alternative method is to melt a thin layer of wax over water and leave it to set – but before it gets quite cold, to roll it around a piece of string on a flat surface to form a candle shape.

Furniture wax

Beeswax is also very useful as a finish for wooden furniture. Soften the wax by mixing in a little turpentine or kerosene. Rub the wax into the wood using plenty of energy! With another clean cloth rub it off, leaving a very pleasing shine that also keeps the wood clean.

With thanks to David Sharland and Jesse Leeku of EAC Aru (PO Box 226, Arua, Uganda) and to Food Chain, Intermediate Technology, UK.

Petroleum jelly

You will need…

  • 25 grams of beeswax
  • 1/2 cup of baby oil

Melt the beeswax very slowly in a double boiler (pan within another pan of water). When liquid stir in the baby oil. Pour into attractive containers

Dry lip balm

You will need…

  • 1 tablespoon of shredded beeswax
  • 1 tablespoon of petroleum jelly
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of lanolin
  • a few drops of aromatic essential oil (eg peppermint, eucalyptus, wintergreen or camphor) so the balm smells attractive.

Melt the wax, lanolin and petroleum jelly in a double boiler. Add the honey and essential oil. Stir until cool and place in attractive container.

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