« Search again     |     Back to AfricaAccessReview.org
One Hen : How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
Milway, Katie Smith ; Fernandes, Eugenie (illus.) One Hen : How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008. $18.95, ISBN 978 155453 0281.

Note: "When Kojo is given a small loan, he has an idea. He will use the money to buy a hen .... Soon there are extra eggs to sell at the market.... One Hen is a persuasive story of how reaching out to help someone with a small loan can have a big impact." (CABA Winner)

Review: Uplifting! Upbeat! Good feeling!

These were the words after I read this book in about 8 minutes! This story stands out as one that will make children of any age feel good about themselves. Children always want to do good and be helpful, like the young boy in this story who ends up helping everybody out with very little.

Stories about Africa at any level have always tended to be on the negative side: AIDS epidemic, poverty, conflict, continuing immeseration. There are people, especially those involved in the 'development business', who try to go a step better by providing real life stories about real people doing well, and doing good, under very difficult circumstances.

Kate Milway's book does a wonderful job of presenting a positive, simple story of Kojo, a level-headed, hard working boy happy to lend a helping hand to his family and his extended village. Latching on to a loan his mother obtained, he is smart enough to figure out a way to multiply the little his family has, and later share with others around him.

Kojo seems to have created a modern variation of the 'susu', an economic and cultural practice among the Akan in Ghana where several people contribute to a joint fund which is then loaned to one of the group. As this person pays back the loan, some one else in the group then benefits from the expanded loan. This continues with everybody at some point benefiting as the pot grows.

It is a form of what is now popularly called 'microfinance', a way for usually poor and moderate income people to have access to small, sustainable credit as a way to live decently. Kojo uses the small loan to buy one hen and sell the eggs that the hen lays. Soon, there are more hens and more eggs, and the rest is an appreciable experience in success and growth for everybody connected with Kojo.

Perhaps the reason I enjoyed this book was because, as the author finally relates, the story is loosely based on a real person, a well-known entrepreneur who is the owner of perhaps the largest poultry farm in all of Ghana.

One Hen is highly recommended.

Copyright © 2008 by Africa Access, all rights reserved. Africa Access permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and Africa Access Review. For any other proposed use, contact AfricaAccess@aol.com

Rating: HR Grade: P / E Type: Book

Reviewed by: Akwasi Osei, Delaware State University; aosei@desu.edu

Subject: Fiction / Ghana / West Africa / CABA winner