Twelve months ago if you tried to google CANROP, you would not find much.
There was a page at http://www.agricarib.org/caribbean-network-rural-women-producers-canrop (still top of google search results as of writing) that provides a one static page write up of what CANROP is. With no contact information for CANROP specifically included. This page was uploaded at some point before 2012.
There were links to events where participants of CANROP had been at. However, the women of CANROP did not have an active voice on the internet. They were not telling their own stories. There was no conversations and nothing was dynamic. This is especially surprising, as the women of CANROP are very very good at storytelling.
Hilda Vaughan has attended three workshops funded by CTA and hosted by IICA on improving communications and storytelling. She reflects on the stories that need to be told after a visit to a market during a workshop in Guyana.
“We found telling a story to be as easy as talking to your friend. Everyone has a story to tell and it’s all about their struggles and their success against the odds they face in life.”
In the past 12 months, CANROP have been on an online adventure.
CANROP, the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers, is an umbrella organisation that represents national chapters of rural women producers throughout the Caribbean. There are over 625 individuals who are members of CANROP chapters in over 8 Caribbean countries. Search online, and the stories of any of these 625 women were hard to find.
CTA and IICA, two intergovernmental organisations who work on agriculture development in the Caribbean, have been spearheading the growth and development of CANROP. This year, this has involved providing the women of CANROP with skills and a platform to share their story. The increase in capacity has been carried out in person and through online courses, as well as the sharing of lessons from workshop participants back to other CANROP members.
CANROP has developed external communications skills through social media and then through the building of the website and blog. Social media communications, over facebook and twitter fit nicely with traditional storytelling methods, familiar to CANROP members. The process of doing this has been sequential. Building on storytelling and layering new skills and new platforms as CANROP members get more comfortable.
The first stage of learning was the creation of an internal facebook sharing group. This group was created to allow the members to share messages, communicate with one another freely and share knowledge and resources. The group has 53 members and has had hundreds of postings and interactions.
Internal communication and conversation has come naturally to the members of CANROP. Turning this natural, conversation into key messages for external communication was the next stage of the journey. The CANROP Facebook page has 240 likes and reaches over 500 individuals per week with key messages and updates about CANROP. In addition to this national CANROP chapters have established their own facebook pages to reach a wider audience with more targeted local news.
Carmen Nurse is the President of CANROP and has attended two workshops on communication, hosted by IICA, as well as undertaking an online course on web 2.0 communications provided by CTA. Carmen says this about twitter:
“It is a public site with exponential visibility which presents open doors for valuable connections for networking, collaboration and knowledge exchange. When we tweet what is happening in our network, the public tweets are shared and the feedback received can result in inexpensive transformation of the organization”
Finally, to really put CANROP on the map, a permanent website was created. A site that could be effectively managed and maintained by CANROP, for CANROP was designed and a workshop and training provided.
These workshops have culminated with a workshop were www.CANROP.com was born. Hilda says
“The experience of the development of canrop.com was great. The women who gathered to build the website were focused and knew what they wanted… It was amazing how easy it was to develop the website in a few days and our own blogs. We did it with such ease, once we decided on the stories we wanted to tell and how they were to be grouped.”
CANROP.com has had over 1000 views over its first two months. The content is still growing, the ownership of the website is with the women of CANROP. Over time the website will continue to grow and improve.
Now if you google CANROP, you will find stories that begin to give an idea of all this network has achieved and who makes it great.
CANROP online – Key Stats
Website over 1000 views in first 2 months
Facebook posts reaching between 200 and 500 individuals per week
Internal sharing to 54 individuals
Chapter sites and pages sharing wider