More and more people worldwide are fleeing rural areas to live in cities. New ideas and investments are needed to roll back this trend and hands-on visionaries willing to improve rural development.
The "Young Ambassadors for Rural Development" or "YARD" encompasses young people commended for their courageous rural projects. GLOBAL 3000 profiles four of these young activists.
One of these visionaries is Rachida Izelfanane from Morocco. She was born in France and studied there. After her economics degree in Nantes the 32 year old now runs her own company. She presses fig oil and sells it to cosmetic firm in France, Belgium and Switzerland. The company is a growing business. But Rachida is more than a business woman. Her ambitions include encouraging the women of her region to lead their own businesses.
In Bosnia, Rachida's fellow ambassador, Milena Nikolic, is trying to overcome her country's violent past in a bid to build a future for her generation. She was born in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, a place once known for its mineral springs and silver mines. Today the place is notorious as the scene of a massacre of 8000 Bosnian Muslims by Serb paramilitaries. After leaving school Milena became a social worker. Today she runs a youth club in her home town, and tries to persuade young people not to leave. She believes the economic independence of Srebrenica can best be achieved through green tourism and organic farming. She also wants to revive the old mineral springs, but she faces resistance from the political elite.
Prosper Nambaya from Tanzania has already achieved much in his career. After studying business administration in England, he now works for a development bank in the capital Dar es Salaam. Six months ago, the now 32 year-old banker bought a farm on the principle: 'don't talk, act'. His aim is to promote rural development. Although Tanzania is a classic agricultural country, people can barely survive on the proceeds, and infrastructure in the countryside is almost non-existent. The result has been rural exodus. Prosper Nambaya plans to cultivate land that has lain idle on his farm and offer people jobs. He says that if others follow his example, the area should have a flourishing future.
Fabian Blöchl lives in Lower Lusatia, a region with little local industry and few job opportunities. Today unemployment stands at 15 percent. Most of the young people find work elsewhere and leave. Only the old remain. Fabian wants to stop this trend. He is 22 and has studied agriculture. The agriculture business is an important part of the economy here. But the region depends heavily on EU subsidies and increasingly that money is going to even poorer regions of the EU. The ambitious young ambassador however is determined to make his family farm a future-oriented business along the way.