The Power of Joy and Optimism


Aguera Ouédraogo’s optimism is inspiring and her gratitude, enormous. Quoting a local Mossi proverb, she says: “the poor cannot offer much in return to those who come to their aid, but they can share their joy.”

And that joy has proven infectious in Zimba, Aguera’s community, as the 37-year-old mother of four shares her excitement over her participation in Trickle Up’s program. Even before she joined our program, Aguera never completely lost hope in a better future for her family. That irrepressible optimism is impressive given her constant battle to provide for her four children without any financial support from her husband, who left six years earlier, while also dealing with her own costly health problems.

Her commitment to provide the best possible life for her children never faltered. Even in the most difficult times, she ensured her four children had enough food and attended school.

To make ends meet, Aguera had a small business selling a cassava dish known as attiéké. Her business was successful until she fell ill and had to spend all of her money on healthcare. She requested money from her husband’s family to support her children, but was reluctant to continue doing so. Since her husband left, Aguera has heard nothing more than rumors that he may be in Ghana. And yet, she maintains a positive perspective, remarking, “at least I have the assurance that he is alive. Why does he not wish to return? I hope that he is in good health and that he will return so that we can focus together on our children’s education.”


Aguera’s commitment to her children’s education was so strong she convinced the school’s director to let her children continue their studies free of charge, which helped her cut costs a bit. With the support of her father, Aguera was able to remain financially stable for a while. Then tragedy struck her family yet again when her father passed away, leaving her without his emotional and financial support and with few options.

The timing of Trickle Up’s program could not have been better. With Trickle Up’s help, Aguera now has the resources to get a business up and running.

Thanks to a market analysis, business training, a seed capital grant, and her own perceptive nature, Aguera recognized that selling millet in her community posed a great opportunity. Many local women make biscuits and zoom koom, a customary drink offered to guests, but no one currently sells millet – a key ingredient in both items. Aguera will use her seed capital money to fund her millet business and she’s already come up with many ideas on how to continue to grow her activities. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Aguera and her family.

Aguera Ouédraogo of Zimba, Burkina Faso
Single mother, millet vendor, irrepressible optimist