FASE Program
The Green Shoots Foundation aims to reduce international poverty in seven countries by implementing three programs: ELSE, FASE and MAME. This Foundation focuses particularly on the FASE program, or Food, Agriculture and Social Entrepreneurship. The FASE program aims to educate individuals in business and agricultural work to promote productivity within the economy. About 80 students and 10 farmers from the Philippines and Cambodia have enrolled in the AgriTech Centre.

Reason for Action

The Philippines and Cambodia both heavily depend on the success of annual harvests to improve the economy. About 40% of Filipino citizens work in the agricultural industry. This industry contributes to around 20% of the GDP and 70% of total output in the Philippines. On the other hand, 22% of Cambodia’s agricultural work contributes to the GDP.

Although the agriculture industry is large, both countries face many difficulties. The Philippines lacks programs to ensure food security, connections to industries and efficient harvesting technologies. Furthermore, natural disasters such as typhoons and droughts damage agricultural facilities, supply markets and harm farmers themselves. Flooding also severely affects Cambodia. A massive flood cost around $355 million in damage to agriculture in Cambodia. Thus, the FASE program emerged to combat these harmful effects.

FASE in the Philippines

The Green Shoots Foundation collaborated with Gawad Kalinga to establish the FASE program in Southeast Asia. Gawad Kalinga is a nonprofit that aims to end international poverty in the Philippines. It works to provide education and employment opportunities to all citizens. Additionally, it has reached over 3,000 communities and fed over 100,000 students in schools through various programs. This organization has taken great steps in stabilizing the country’s workforce and economy.

The FASE program sends volunteers from the United States and England to the Philippines to provide training sessions. Volunteers teach people business and micro-financing information. Additionally, the FASE program provides platforms to inspire citizens to become entrepreneurs and support agricultural farmers.

Furthermore, incorporating a university on a farm allows farmers to obtain an education and promote their business. This program has supported over 1 million people and created over 300 jobs. Additionally, over 80,000 children attend school and 60 social enterprises have undergone establishment.

FASE in Cambodia

The Green Shoots Foundation has made a difference in Cambodia as well. The FASE program helped build the Agri-Tech Centre in North West Cambodia. Additionally, it focuses on environmental sustainability, training young children and preparing them for a future in the agricultural business.

Community-based Integrated Development is an NGO that works with the Green Shoots Foundation in Cambodia. Both organizations introduced the FASE program in Oddar Meanchey, a province in Cambodia. Furthermore, it provides training to improve agricultural opportunities and GDP. The Agri-Tech Centre has aided in establishing six sustainable enterprises as well.

In addition, the FASE program collaborates with the Agriculture Skills in Public Schools Project. The organizations discuss the most efficient farming styles to implement in the youth curriculum. Additionally, it creates irrigation systems and ponds to improve water accessibility and provide farmers with a suitable work environment. Children continue to learn farming skills to help improve the agricultural sector in Cambodia.

The Green Shoots Foundation and the Agriculture and Social Entrepreneurship program help advance agricultural sectors in the Philippines and Cambodia. This Foundation works to train and inspire citizens to become entrepreneurs. The Green Shoots Foundation continues to work to reduce international poverty and expand its influence in more countries.

– Sylvia Boguniecki
Photo: Flickr

Female entrepreneurs in AfghanistanIt is no secret that women’s rights in Afghanistan have been suffering due to decades of war and Taliban rule in the country. Afghan women have been denied employment, education, healthcare and basic freedoms for years and were punished violently by the Taliban for attempting to find work or go to school. Years after Taliban rule, women are picking up the pieces of a broken society that drove them and many other Afghans into severe poverty. Organizations such as the Women’s Economic Empowerment Rural Development Project (WEERDP) and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), both funded and backed by the World Bank, set up savings and loan associations in different communities to allow Afghan women to start their own business. Female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan have the potential to help the economy and poverty within the country.

Women’s Empowerment Projects of the World Bank

International Aid to Afghanistan is essential for empowering its women and bringing communities out of poverty. The World Bank has a variety of programs dedicated to poverty eradication. It implemented the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Project to support Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA). VLSAs operate as a community bank that gives out micro-loans to women to create employment opportunities to sustain economic growth. Examples of businesses that have been started are hair salons, tailor shops and bakeries.

While the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program closed down in 2018, it was replaced by the WEERDP and continues to be backed by the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) to ensure steady funding.

VSLA’s are funded by the World Bank and the IDA to ensure sustainable financial institutions are available in Afghanistan, with the hope that they will partner with larger commercial banks in the future.

Benefits of Female Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan

There are roughly 275,684 Afghan women beneficiaries of the WEERDP.  Many of them have had access to financial services for the first time with the program. Many others have taken loans, learned how to repay them and have begun saving for the future. These are valuable life skills for women who were not able to enter the workforce or gain an education in the past.

With the increase of women-run businesses in Afghanistan’s rural communities, VSLA’s can begin to partner with larger banks to begin serving bigger loans to women after seeing the success of the businesses that started with micro-loans. The support of financial institutions is important to give women the confidence to become entrepreneurs, especially in a country where the percentage of women in the workforce has been statistically low. Skills like leadership, management and problem-solving are derived from starting a business and they can be spread throughout communities to strengthen the role of women in the economy.

Skills can even be passed down through generations. Building a structure with programs like the WEERDP is vital for long-term economic growth and success because it can open doors for creativity and innovation for an economy that would benefit.

The Future of Female Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan

Increasing the number of women entrepreneurs with savvy financial skills can benefit the communities of Afghanistan in many ways. Successful women can begin to venture out into local politics and healthcare fields to build on their skills while sharing their talents with the community. Women have important input on what types of businesses are needed for their community and can reduce poverty in specialized ways.

Afghan women make up roughly half of the nation’s population, so their representation is needed to drive economic and societal progress. Having women be visible in the business sector can allow for gender equality to improve in Afghanistan over time, improving the development of the nation as a whole.

– Julia Ditmar
Photo: Flickr

Tony Elumelu FoundationThe ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is affecting nations around the world, including the nations of Africa. Many African nations responded to the pandemic with strict lockdowns and social distancing initiatives, often stronger than that of European nations. However, the people of Africa face a much more severe economic impact. Although poverty reduction measures have been met with success across the continent, roughly 500 million Africans still live in extreme poverty. The sub-Saharan areas of Africa have the highest rates of poverty in the world, estimated at 55% in 2014. Foreign direct investment is down by 40% and 49 million more Africans could fall into extreme poverty in the world’s first global poverty increase since 1988. The Tony Elumelu Foundation hopes to reduce poverty in Africa through entrepreneurship.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation

A nonprofit operating since 2010, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) fights global poverty in Africa through the funding of entrepreneurs and small enterprises, These are the very types of businesses that the pandemic impacted most, both across the world and in Africa. With an endowment of $100 million, the organization has already had significant success propagating what it terms “Africapitalism,” which is the use of the private sector for economic growth and development.

The EU Partnership

In December 2020, the European Union (EU) announced a formal partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation. The plan comes as part of two broader EU strategies: the EU External Investment Plan and the EU Gender Action Plan. It involves technical training and financial support for 2,500 female African entrepreneurs in 2021 across all 54 African countries through 20 million euros in increased capital. Speaking on the partnership, Tony Elumelu, the founder of the TEF, expressed delight in being able to partner with the EU and said the partnership will create great opportunities for African women who have “endured systemic obstacles to starting, growing and sustaining their businesses.” The Commissioner for EU International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, stated that empowering female entrepreneurs is an integral part of creating sustainable jobs and growth.

How Entrepreneurship Helps

In Central Africa, approximately 71% of jobs are in the informal sector. These jobs are particularly vulnerable to lockdowns. The strict measures put in place as responses to COVID-19 have left many of these people jobless. Entrepreneurship creates more stable jobs and allows a country to be more self-sufficient and can be just as effective as foreign or philanthropic aid in fighting poverty.

Even after the effects of the pandemic subside, Africa still has much to do to eradicate poverty. Fostering entrepreneurship is an innovative approach to this economic problem, one that the Tony Elumelu Foundation has seen significant results with, with more than 9,000 entrepreneurs mentored before the partnership with the EU. The full impact of these endeavors remains to be seen but the potential exists for African entrepreneurs to have a major impact on poverty in Africa. The TEF’s partnership with the EU will only intensify these positive impacts.

– Bradley Cisternino
Photo: Flickr

Paulownia TreesThe Central Asian nation, Uzbekistan, has a population of just over 33.6 million. Recently, President Shavkat Mirziyovev made history, becoming the first Uzbekistani President to acknowledge the poverty epidemic in the nation. Mirziyovev announced that somewhere between four to five million people currently live in poverty in Uzbekistan. The administration subsequently constructed anti-poverty measures and efforts to boost the economy. One woman in Uzbekistan took initiative, investigating how Paulownia trees can aid in poverty reduction.

A Proactive Mission

Sojida Jabborova, a Uzbekistani woman, observed both the poverty crisis within her country and the successful poverty reduction measures taken in China to create a plan. Under Mirziyovev’s reform campaign and insistence to study Chinese practices, Jabborova found the versatile Paulownia trees and entered the business world.

Each part of the Paulownia tree can be utilized to lift communities out of poverty. They are capable of adapting to poor soil, fertilizing it and purifying the air of harmful gases. Paulownia leaves can be used to feed livestock, they contain nectar for bees and other insects and their wood is sturdy enough to be used for houses and furniture. In 2018, Jabborova negotiated with Chinese business partners to deliver seeds and seedlings to Uzbekistan where they are now grown in experimental fields in four different regions. She has not stopped the investigation into how Paulownia trees can aid poverty reduction, continuing presentations and experiments on various products.

Uzbekistan Reform Campaign

Once in office in 2017, President Mirziyovev began multiple reforms to lift Uzbekistan out of economic depravity and better the livelihoods of its citizens. Poverty reduction has moved to top priority in Uzbekistan as the government granted $700 million to be spent on anti-poverty efforts in 2020. The administration believes to reduce poverty in Uzbekistan, they must first address unemployment and bolster entrepreneurship. This includes improving the tourism industry, improved training for essential trades and heightening economic literacy for citizens, particularly women.

Uzbekistan established a partnership with China to investigate and solve issues of unemployment, gender inequality and poverty in early October 2020. The Institute for Tourism Development in Uzbekistan has engaged in a joint research project to link tourism and poverty reduction. The plan for Uzbekistan is to increase the production of exports, expand the industry, boost small businesses, and in the long-term, improve government regulations and education regarding these fields.

Innovative Entrepreneurship Leading to Solutions

Sojida Jabborova was once a dentist in Uzbekistan, however, she was driven by the critical state of poverty in her country to find a solution. The reform campaign created the perfect atmosphere for Jabbarova to begin her work as the nation honed in on entrepreneurship and financial literacy in women especially. The partnership between China and Uzbekistan, with Beijing as the model for Uzbekistan’s progress, provided Jabbarova with the knowledge and support to begin experimentation with Paulownia trees. In the beginning, Paulownia trees were only grown on 19 acres and now they are grown in fields in Fergana, Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent.

Poverty Reduction in a Global Pandemic

Sojida Jabbarova’s efforts in exploring how Paulownia trees can aid in poverty reduction is crucial. Her spirit along with the dedication of the Uzbekistani administration to place poverty reduction at the top of the to-do list will surely mean progress. These efforts have been constrained by the global pandemic where the administration focused on protecting lives and businesses and maintaining headway in the fight against poverty. The administration has centered on healthcare, financial support and social assistance in the fight against COVID-19.

The administration’s efforts for poverty reduction are substantial and the alliance with China has brought great insight on how to best lift citizens from poverty and kickstart a downtrodden economy. Jabbarova and her Paulownia tree fields are a success story for poverty reduction efforts and the overall reform campaign begun by President Mirziyovev.

– Lizzie Herestofa
Photo: Flickr

Empowering Women in Ghana
Over the past 20 years, women in Ghana have been increasingly entering the workforce. This is good news for the country as it is trying to reach the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically goal number two of zero hunger, by the year 2030. Through empowering women in Ghana, the country might turn its zero hunger goal into a reality.

Female Entrepreneurship in Ghana

Women run around 46.4% of businesses in Ghana, making it one of the most ambitious countries for female entrepreneurship. However, the traditional, patriarchal roles are still prevalent, confining women to household roles like housekeeping, tending to the children, food production, etc. A lot of hindrances exist within the current system that inhibits women from entering the workforce. This includes land ownership rights, necessary training, time constraints and inability to provide collateral for initial start-ups. Women are also limited in their ability to do things independently from male supervision. This is because of their limited education, with males usually obtaining higher education than their female counterparts.

Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture

Elsevier, a Netherlands-based information and analytics company that has an emphasis on scientific, technical and medical content, conducted a primary study observing women’s empowerment through working in the pineapple sector (horticulture plantations). The data set consists of 420 married couples living on plantations in Ghana, and the results concluded that statistically, females who had employment had a positive impact on the overall household. Joint horticulture household results also showed that women had more of a say when it came to household decisions.

The income that women’s plantation jobs earned them gave them more leverage, as well as lessened the pressure their spouse had to be the sole provider for the family. Export-oriented horticulture not only plays a role in empowering women in Ghana but can help pull vulnerable populations in Ghana by employing them on these cash crop pineapple plantations. Additionally, it can help boost the country’s GDP, making the internal structure strong and autonomous.

Moreover, if Ghana put more incentives in place for female entrepreneurship, the country might be able to ensure zero hunger. If women are able to contribute financially, households will not be suffering from food insufficiencies due to the generation of an additional income, overall helping more families. This needs to occur by prioritizing equitable education for women, equal access to credit and protection of women-run small businesses. This way, more women will have the encouragement to join the workforce without any of the previous barriers discouraging them from doing so.

Traditional Ideas

Even after getting a job, many in Ghana still hold women to traditional roles in the home and bearing the extra burden of upkeeping a happy home life. This can be very difficult as both an entrepreneur and housewife, however, hopefully, their partners can be more understanding, creating a more balanced home life. However, traditional values still remain strongly-rooted in Ghanian culture. As a result, community cooperation programs for mothers to provide meal sharing and child care within the vicinity of each other might be of great assistance for mothers starting out at their new respective jobs.

Malnourishment and Food Insecurity in Ghana

Malnourishment is an issue that goes hand-in-hand with food insecurity in Ghana. This is especially a problem specific to the rural areas where food insecurity is disproportionately higher than in metropolitan areas. As many know, bad dieting can lead to a slew of health complications and a higher mortality rate. Therefore, diet literacy is a crucial aspect for women who are the ones typically preparing the food in Ghana. Women also have the ability to spread the word in these small villages as community is a key part of Ghanian culture.

Encouraging Diet Literacy Among Lower-Income Women

Studies have occurred regarding lower-income women in rural areas, but they are few in numbers. A well-documented and successful study occurred in Winneba, Ghana on high school students. The program included food selecting skills, preparation and food management. The results indicated a positive correlation between diet literacy programs and diet behavior, however, there is a lack of data on a larger pool of women. Having data on women from different demographics like diverse age groups, socio-economic class and education could give more accurate results on the viability of diet literacy programs.

Cross-comparative studies from abroad on low-income women indicate a high success rate of these diet literacy programs in Ghana. The government needs to be more proactive in its implementation of these programs in Ghana as empowering women will have an impact on entire families and villages. In order to reach Ghana’s no hunger goal, it should start with educating women on healthy behavioral practices.

The Potential of Backyard Farming

Additionally, observations have determined that backyard farming could be of great help to alleviate the disparities in food security between rural and metropolitan regions. The different climates between the North and South bring about different crucial staples for Ghanian cuisine. The process of truck farming helps to transport food items to different regions where grocery stores, restaurants and street markets can supply different food for purchase. Small-scale domestic backyard farming is very easy and makes healthy foods very accessible, encouraging healthy eating while alleviating rural hunger. These practices will aid women in becoming self-sufficient as well as increase food security in insecure regions, further empowering women in Ghana.

Ghana is making progressive steps in empowering women: this is especially occurring in the work sector with women owning almost half of the businesses in Ghana. This, coupled with more business incentives and diet literacy programs could really help the country reach its SDG goal number two of zero hunger by the year 2030. Women have proven (through various case studies as this article identifies above) that their ambitious involvements in the workforce have proven to be helpful, overall empowering women in Ghana by giving them autonomy and independence that they have never seen before. Economically, it helps alleviate the pressure on men to be the sole breadwinner; rather, men and women disperse the roles between them creating a more symbiotic relationship where both parties can financially contribute to the family.

– Mina Kim
Photo: Flickr

Innovalab Fights Poverty
Guinea-Bissau is a country made up of 1.8 million people comprising diverse ethnic groups, different religions and languages. About half of the country’s populace lives in urban cities such as Bissau (the capital), and the other half of the population lives in rural areas and depends mostly on subsistence farming. The country, which was once a Portuguese colony, is currently one of the poorest countries in the world, struggles with a large foreign debt and has become a centerpiece for the trade of Latin American drugs. InnovaLab, a social enterprise based in Guinea-Bissau, is working to improve conditions in the country.

The Situation in Guinea-Bissau

According to an interview with a past missionary from BMS World Mission who served in Guinea (Guinea-Bissau’s neighboring country), the general West African populace faces many challenges to development. These challenges include the lack of access to sanitary water, lack of access to healthcare and the lack of social mobility. While there are some houses that had solar panels installed to conserve energy, this was not a norm. Most of the populace had to deal with power outages as and when they came.

Despite the country having an abundance of natural resources, Guinea-Bissau faces a chicken and egg problem with regard to its efforts to fight persistent poverty. The country faces constant political and economic stagnation due to the deep-rooted problems within the country. As a result, the population is largely dissatisfied. For instance, one of the recurring problems is that schools do not operate on a daily basis. Additionally, workers do not always receive their wages. Lack of access to a sustainable income and public services limits the long term growth and development of the country’s human capital. This in turn stalls solutions to these underlying problems.

Furthermore, the country heavily relies on receiving international aid due to the ongoing domestic instability. International donors do not always release the funds on time, which leads to frequent protests.

InnovaLab Fights Poverty by Promoting Entrepreneurism

InnovaLab fights poverty by setting up an entrepreneurial ecosystem amidst all the country’s uncertainties. It does this by supporting and mentoring people through online courses, boot camps and technology-driven initiatives. The founder of InnovaLab is Adulai Bary. InnovaLab was born in 2015 out of the movement of the increasing presence of startups in the markets. Bary’s idea for InnovaLab focuses on helping to generate employment, reducing incidences of crime and helping to promote small businesses.

InnovaLab fights poverty in Guinea-Bissau by playing a key role in the backbone of the country’s economy. It connects public and private sector organizations to work on innovative projects around new technologies and increased job opportunities. The organization emphasizes the importance of mentoring and incubation resources that it provides to its members. It offers personal business coaching and exclusive invitations to educational and networking events. It also provides consulting on revenue growth and sales to these budding entrepreneurs.

InnovaLab is also opening up a co-working space for people to brainstorm and collaborate in a safe environment. It hopes to attract small businesses, freelancers and startups. These organizations would benefit from 24-hour access to working facilities, free WiFi and housing for a maximum of 15 people. InnovaLab also has an acceleration and expertise center that provides professional services such as finance, legal and accounting services to entrepreneurs. InnovaLab fights poverty by providing opportunities for business owners to get a more in-depth understanding of the problems and opportunities for improvement.

Progress Thus Far

InnovaLab has succeeded in helping various local projects and online businesses come to fruition. Examples of InnovaLab’s success stories include Bandim Online (an e-commerce site for domestic products), a community ICT school, Big Technology (a service supplier company) and UBUNTU (a solar energy project). InnovaLab has a variety of other promising entrepreneurial ideas that have yet to meet the funding requirements. Notably, a total of 5,000 people benefitted from InnovaLab’s educational courses, and 20 new enterprises were incubated by InnovaLab’s efforts. More recently the organization has responded to the impact of COVID-19 on the business environment and economy of Guinea-Bissau. InnovaLab held a virtual forum on the 17th to 19th of July 2020 to initiate and spearhead the brainstorming and collective efforts of private and public sector workers in the fight towards dealing with the pandemic.

In the midst of domestic challenges and uncertainties, InnovaLab is a breakthrough in the entrepreneurial space of Guinea-Bissau. It provides sustainability for small businesses to flourish with the right mentoring and resources. InnovaLab fights poverty by creating a counter-culture to poverty in periods of instability by supporting the growth and cultivation of businesses and startups.

Mariyah Lia
Photo: Flickr

Women and MicrofinanceThe importance of women has been well-documented over time, despite historical disparities in their socioeconomic status. More often than not, women living in impoverished countries face numerous barriers to their financial independence. Although they have entrepreneurial visions for their future, the lack of funding forces their dreams to slowly fade away. In this same vein, at least 1 billion women in these nations do not have access to regular bank services. Perhaps it is time for a new marriage — women and microfinance.

However, the good news is that microfinance has helped countless underprivileged women pursue their aspirations of business ownership. Together, women and microfinance have the potential to destroy the old customs that have stifled women from entering the workforce.

What is Microfinance?

Microfinance is a lending service that provides small, manageable loans to unemployed or low-income people who would otherwise lack access to financial services. Microfinance has already transformed the lives of many women. With the help of organizations like the Pakistan-based Kashf foundation, which has supported impoverished female entrepreneurs since 1996, and FINCA, financial freedom has become an obtainable goal for many. One narrative from a former client, Shamsha Naveed, represents a common yet important testimony of the abuse numerous poor women suffer in Pakistan. Moreover, Naveed’s narrative highlights as well, the economic promise women now have.

Shamsha’s Story: The Power of Female Entrepreneurship

For years, Naveed’s husband sexually abused their daughter and tortured Shamsha mentally and physically. She eventually realized her only option was to leave her cruel marriage and move back in with her parents. Not wanting to be a financial liability to her mother and father, Naveed began stitching people’s clothes as a means to earn an income.

Since her stitching job required her to travel door-to-door, she often encountered insults that blamed her for her failed marriage and lack of fair payment for her work. Yet, despite this harassment and exploitation, Naveed persevered and eventually found her way to the Kashf Foundation where she enrolled in specialized career classes. Eventually, she obtained a loan. Naveed’s business is now flourishing, employing a staff of more than 20 workers which allows this female entrepreneur to successfully pay for her children’s education.

The Foundation of International Community Assistance (FINCA)

The Foundation of International Community Assistance (FINCA) is another top microfinance lending institution. FINCA has long championed the cause of female empowerment. Since the mid-1980s, more than 4 million women have benefited from the organization’s assistance. Additionally, in April 2018, the microcredit company opened a women-only branch in Afghanistan. Not only does the location provide specific lending services to women, but it also offers targeted financial literacy classes and financial products. The Afghanistan office has a staff consisting of more than 90 female employees, including female branch managers.

It simply makes financial sense for emerging nations to foster and harness the earning power of women. Women’s inclusion contributes to regions’ overall economic growth and stability. Furthermore, diversified workplaces promote heightened employee engagement and creativity. An employer whose business fosters gender equality will appeal to a wide range of talented individuals. This, in turn, demonstrates to potential employees that the company values contributions from all people.

Building Bridges to Prosperity

Lending institutions such as the Kashf Foundation and FINCA are well-aware that women are marginalized in developing countries. However, these organizations also understand that financial investment goes beyond money. The true value these female entrepreneurs bring is felt not just by their families, but also by their overall economies. As women and microfinance continue to build bridges that educate, inspire and cultivate confidence in female entrepreneurship — there is hope for transitioning many from poverty to prosperity.

– Kim Patterson
Photo: Pexels

Grand Slam
Major League Baseball (MLB) player Adam Wainwright is a two-time World Series champion. Additionally, Wainwright is a three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glover, and Silver Slugger Award winner. In 2013, the Saint Louis Cardinals’ star found another use for his work ethic, leadership and passion by founding the Big League Impact (BLI) to fight poverty in the global community. He believes, “As an athlete, you only get a few years to have a platform like this. You might as well stand on it.” This article discusses some of the organization’s successes, highlighting why founding the organization was a grand slam against poverty.

The BLI began as a family fantasy football fundraiser. Today, this organization hosts campaigns and collaborates with fellow non-profits, athletes, musicians and other public figures. For example, the organization has taken Kyle Gibson into the ranks; the pitcher for the Texas Rangers who now serves as Vice President.

Teamwork Helps Puerto Rico Recover After Earthquake

Following two devastating earthquakes in 2019 and 2020, the BLI raised $30,000 for communities in Puerto Rico. This money went to two foundations: The Happy Givers and Yadier Molina’s Fundación 4. The Happy Givers has endeavored to improve lives in Peru, Tijuana and Puerto Rico. It used donation proceeds to provide power, clean water, emergency supplies and shelter to earthquake survivors. It gave further support by supplying backpacks packed with essentials for survival: whistles, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, flashlights, towels, water bottles, first aid kits and cereal bars.

Fundación 4, meanwhile, has focused exclusively on helping Puerto Ricans. BLI’s contributions went to children suffering from abuse, neglect, as well as diseases such as cancer. Fundación 4 also distributed necessities including food and water to Puerto Rican communities.

Fundraiser Drives Away Poverty and Hunger

Gateway Bronco (GB) is a company based in St. Louis, MO, that designs and restores Ford Broncos. This organization worked with the BLI and Omaze, an online fundraising platform, to fight against poverty. GB offered a classic Ford Bronco and $20,000 cash to bring in donations. This campaign raised $431,378.09 to benefit four charities:

  1. Crisis Aid International: Crisis Aid International serves to combat famine, disease, natural disasters and sex trafficking by serving families in East Africa and the U.S.
  2. Water Mission: Water Mission provides sustainable safe water solutions to people living in developing countries and facing natural disasters.
  3. Food for the Hungry: Food for the Hungry supplies clean water, medical aid, food, equal educational opportunities to children in over 20 countries.
  4. Help One Now: Help One Now fights poverty in developing countries by empowering entrepreneurs, educating and providing restorative care.

El Mogote is No Longer Parched for Safe Water

In 2019, Nick Ahmed, a shortstop for the MLB Arizona Diamondbacks, partnered with BLI. He traveled to El Mogote, Dominican Republic to open a water treatment center. With the help of Striking Out Poverty and Food 4 the Hungry, Mr. Ahmed was successful in providing 1,200 people with clean water. While there, Ahmed also played baseball with the children, saying, “their passion and joy for the game was so incredible!” Ahmed donated 31 pairs of New Balance cleats to the kids, allowing them to safely continue playing the game.

Healthy Competition for Global Health

Baseball and Football fans alike are encouraged to join the BLI fantasy football league. Entry requires a donation to the organization, ranging from $250 to $1500. Higher donations unlock additional prizes.

In 2020, Ahmed and starting pitcher Luke Weaver of the Arizona Diamondbacks will compete for the cause. Weaver is looking forward to the competition, “I’m excited to defend my title as the best fantasy footballer ever, but I’m welcome to all challengers in that and I hope somebody tries to take me down.” Ultimately, the winners are those in need around the world.

Looking to the Future

To date, BLI has raised over $5.2 million for charitable causes and foundations. Now, Wainwright is mobilizing and advising his fellow athletes on starting their own charities and nonprofits. He says, “What we want to do at Big League Impact, one of our biggest missions now is empowering other players to go out into their communities and into the world and do what they feel like means something to them. Something that hits home.”

– Heather Babka
Photo: Commons Wikimedia

innovations in poverty eradication in slovakiaIn 2008, 1.11 million Slovaks were at risk of poverty. Today, that number is closer to 872,000, while Slovakia’s steady economic growth is at almost 4%. However, uncertainty looms again as 70% of Slovakian employees are in danger of losing their jobs due to automation. Thankfully, innovations in poverty eradication in Slovakia make poverty eradication possible.

Slovakia: The Heart of Europe

Entrepreneurs succeed in Slovakia because the country is a central hub enclosed by Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Hungary. This gives the country high exporting potential. For example, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and The Norwegian Barents Secretariat have signed agreements with Slovakia to continue cross-border cooperation with Ukraine to promote economic development.

Slovakia also has a rich cultural heritage, history and modern art. The country’s Culture Program aims to bring attention to these facets of Slovakian culture. Through this program, the Slovakian government hopes to increase income and jobs through art creation and performances. This is one of many innovations in poverty eradication in Slovakia that would significantly reduce poverty in disadvantaged communities.

Partnerships Are the Key to Success

The Slovakian government also encourages partnerships between students and professionals to address poverty. These programs help those in need as well as provide experience to students. Overall, they focus on technological advancements, thus creating innovations in poverty eradication in Slovakia.

One of these partnership programs is the Butterfly Effect. A digital start-up, this organization assists young, tech-savvy leaders of tomorrow by offering full-time courses geared toward developers and inventive leaders. Additionally, the program encourages students to innovate for the future of Slovakia in the ever-changing digital world. For example, students developed a ride-sharing app specifically for those traveling to and from work through this program.

Similarly, LEAF focuses on developmental programs for those just starting or those who are already in their career field. They help all those who hope to build a more successful Slovakia, regardless of personal finances. LEAF also has programs specialized for teachers and skill-based volunteering that focuses on living conditions. Additionally, LEAF offers paid internships to students committed to staying in Slovakia, thus providing guidance and job security to the next generation. These programs all abide by LEAF’s four core values: ethics, excellence, entrepreneurial leadership and civic engagement.

Investors Help Equality Progress

Fueling many innovations in poverty eradication in Slovakia is the country’s influx of investors, creating a demand for skilled workers. To keep up, Slovakia is dedicated to improving educational and entrepreneurial opportunities to increase its ability to adapt to new technologies. International investors have the chance to network with Slovakian startups at Innovation Day, hosted by the German-Slovak Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GSCIC).

One such digital technology startup to watch on Innovation Day 2020 is Meet ‘n’ Learn. Meet ‘n’ Learn is an app allowing parents and students to find tutors in their neighborhood. They can arrange to meet up in person or virtually through the app for lessons. Additionally, the app provides a free option where students can post questions and receive replies from multiple instructors. This app has the potential to bridge the gap between children of different economic backgrounds. Slovakia is embracing these investors that are backing these innovative ideas to give everyone equal advantages.

The Future of Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Slovakia

To facilitate poverty reduction, Slovakia encourages citizens to welcome the technological and digital world through modernization and entrepreneurship. The country’s efforts have been rewarded with a historically low unemployment rate of 7%. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría says, “Living standards are gradually catching up with the higher-income …. [T]o ensure this growth is more inclusive, [we need to] move towards more sophisticated and innovative products and ensure that everyone has the skills and training for the jobs of tomorrow.” In doing so, innovations in poverty eradication in Slovakia will continue to further the country’s progress on this front.

Sam Babka
Photo: Flickr

Entrepreneurship in Africa
Africa stands as a continent of nearly 1.3 billion people, with 27 nations having a poverty rate of over 30%. As COVID-19 spreads through the region, falling demand and break down of supply chains threaten to further slow already-sluggish growth rates. Ever the land of great resilience and innovation, hundreds of enterprising individuals have excelled in Africa, enriching themselves and their countries. Increasingly more Africans are seeking out entrepreneurial and small business opportunities to combat poverty. One such businessman helping in this effort, multimillionaire Tony Elumelu, is using his wealth to fuel entrepreneurship in Africa and transform the continent into a booming commercial hub and providing hope for the future.

Roadblocks to Economic Growth in Africa

Africa’s economy has long suffered stubborn development setbacks. Government inaction, fragile infrastructure and widespread instability have hindered the region’s industrialization and economic growth. Many countries grapple with deficient infrastructure, including inadequate means of transportation, limited access to electricity and water and poor telecommunications systems. The World Bank estimates that the resolution of these structural shortcomings would increase the region’s productivity by as much as 40%.

Politicians have been reluctant to bolster manufacturing despite an international consensus on Africa’s need for industrialization. Such apprehension can be partially attributed to Africa’s unique position in the world economy: a pre-industrial continent already aspiring to post-industrialism. This misguided ambition has discouraged lawmakers from implementing protectionist policies. Without tariffs that benefit domestic manufacturing industries, larger international corporations choke out Africa’s budding factories and discourage entrepreneurship in Africa.

Ongoing fiscal and political instability serves to magnify these already difficult issues. Mounting debt levels divert money from investment to reimbursement and waste significant capital on unproductive endeavors. For example, sub-Saharan Africa’s aggregate debt-to-GDP ratio doubled from 2008 to 2017. Additionally, frequent leadership turnover has deterred international companies from entering African countries.

Working to mitigate these hurdles is Tony Elumelu, the founder of Heirs Holdings Ltd, a private investment corporation that operates in the energy sector. Beyond oil and gas, Elumelu is investing in a far more valuable asset: Africa’s future innovators. His nonprofit organization, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), empowers young entrepreneurs with the resources they need to build meaningful businesses.

How The Tony Elumelu Foundation Advances Entrepreneurship in Africa

The Tony Elumelu Foundation fosters entrepreneurship in Africa to alleviate poverty and spark economic gains. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme offers grants and mentorship to innovative African businesspeople, allowing them to transform their ideas into profitable corporations. Endowed with a generous $100 million, the program has already assisted 9,000 individuals in creating businesses that invigorate their entire communities.

The broad scope of TEF’s investments cultivates economic diversification, a key tenet of development and stability. Some of the organization’s recent beneficiaries include:

  • Stars From All Nations (SFAN): Headed by Tom-Chris Emewulu, SFAN nourishes young minds through informative programs and workshops. Aimed at augmenting and supplementing children’s schooling, the company is helping to resolve Africa’s undereducation crisis.
  • Doctoora: Jubril Odulana, a Nigerian doctor, created Doctoora as a solution to Africa’s limited healthcare access. The platform collaborates with medical professionals to open private practices and ensures patients receive the care they need. In the face of COVID-19, Doctoora plays an essential role in promoting public health across the region.
  • Ufinix.com: The brainchild of Nnodim Uchenna, Ufinix.com offers aspiring developers comprehensive coding courses and guidance, preparing them for future careers in computer science. By equipping students with technological knowledge, the website is propelling Africa into the digital age.
  • Light Salone: Light Salone founder Mohammed Akamara aims to redress Sierra Leone’s severe energy shortage. In pursuit of this goal, Akamara engineered affordable hybrid solar-wind power sources to electrify rural areas and boost development. Manufactured using recycled supplies, these Sowind Technologies provide a mindful solution to Sierra Leone’s electrical desert.

By supporting young visionaries, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is generating hope, ambition and entrepreneurship in Africa. Its passionate beneficiaries are launching innovative and impactful companies that not only empower their creators but also their communities. The foundation has employed the continent’s most creative, altruistic minds, initiating a cycle of philanthropy that portends Africa’s future prosperity.

Rosalind Coats
Photo: Flickr