Information and news about success stories

Nesthy Petecio
Nesthy Petecio was a young child who grew up on a farm in the town of Santa Cruz in Davao del Sur in the Philippines. She spent her childhood helping her family make ends meet on their farm. Most of the time, though, this still was not enough and her family struggled to get by. Despite her start in life, Petecio competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a boxer.

A Rough Start to Life

Petecio’s childhood on her family’s farm was not the picturesque version of farm life that books or TV frequently show. Her job to clean up the chicken poop humbled her often. Though the family had a small plot of land, they still had to work hard to maintain the land enough to support their family.

Despite their hard work, there were times when the farm just was not enough. “During that time we really had nothing and we would just borrow money to be able to buy our food,” Petecio told the “Go Hard Girls” podcast in March. Petecio was used to doing almost anything for food, including fighting.

In her neighborhood, she would enter inter-barangay competitions to earn food. The young girl would physically fight in order to get a shot at a good meal for herself. These inter-barangay fights were not anything complicated — they were simply in neighborhood basketball courts, the beach or anywhere else that seemed plausible.

The Spark of a Lifetime

Nesthy Petecio showed promise, and luckily her dad had once dreamed of becoming a boxer himself. He decided to coach her, starting when she was 7 years old. She worked hard and kept fighting through her childhood. Though she only had her dad to help her learn, she continued to develop her craft.

When Petecio was 11, she fought against a male opponent who was much larger and stronger than she was at the time. Though attendees at the match tried to tell her to stop, she was persistent in wanting to continue. Her firmness paid off as she ended up winning the fight.

This fight, along with her drive for the sport, gave her the public boost she needed to receive recognition from the national team and go further with boxing. She saw this as a way out of poverty for her and her family. She began to win international medals at the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Championships in the early 2010s.

Almost Turning Away

In 2016, Petecio failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Further down the line, she experienced defeat early on in the 2018 Asian Games. This was almost too much for her to handle at the time. She told about the depression she faced following her loss. “I was going to look for a job. I was looking for other options,” she said. At that time, I was really feeling down. I was feeling depressed, I was stressed.”

After a break in 2018, she came back strong in 2019 and won the World Championships, proving to herself that she could still compete. The COVID-19 pandemic only gave her extra time to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she dominated the competition and took home a silver medal for her country. She is the first Filipino woman to win an Olympic medal in boxing.

Nesthy Petecio worked hard for a sport she loved, but also saw an opportunity to live life better than what she was born into. Boxing was her way of doing just that, and becoming an Olympic athlete was more than she could have dreamed of.

– Riley Prillwitz
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Countries That Escaped From PovertyEradicating poverty from a country can be a difficult and daunting task, but it is not impossible. Some countries are able to develop solutions that bring their economy and their people out of disastrous living conditions. Here is a list of five countries that escaped from poverty and created a better future for their citizens.

5 Countries that Escaped From Poverty

  1. Ghana: In 1990, this small West African nation had a GDP per capita of $1,900 with a poverty rate of 52 percent. By 2018, their GDP had reached an all-time high of $4,211.85 and their poverty rate was cut to 21 percent. Their extreme poverty rate also dropped from 35.6 percent to 18.2 percent within the same time. How were they able to do this? The country focused on educating its citizens to be a well-educated workforce. This allowed them to industrialize and put people in charge that had the knowledge and resources to succeed. Agriculture was the main area of employment back in 1990, but with a diversification of the economy, they were able to boost other sectors to create more jobs. This included the manufacturing and exportation of technological goods and mining that helped them become one of the top producers in gold in the world.
  2. Norway: Having the highest standards of living in the world is not an easy feat. The GDP per capita of Norway as of 2018 is sitting at $8,1807.20, the highest in the country’s history. But they haven’t always had this success. Norway was once one of the poorest nations in the world. During the turn of the 20th century, the Northern European nation’s economy was reliant on agriculture and fishing industries. When these began to fail, hundreds of thousands of Norwegians began to leave the country to escape from poverty for economic opportunity elsewhere. It wasn’t until after World War II that Norway’s economy began to trend upward. The United States provided aid to the country that was ravaged by the fighting and they used the aid help kick start their battered economy. Once oil was discovered off their shores in the North Sea in the 1970s, their economy flourished and they have been consistently trending upwards ever since.
  3. Singapore: The small city-state of Singapore gained its independence from Malaysia in 1965. It was a rough start for the people and their economy. The country’s GDP per capita stood at $516 and more than 70 percent of the people lived in the slums with half of the population unable to read or write. Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister at the time and he installed reforms that were very successful for the people of Singapore and their economy. He began by revamping the education system and creating a workforce that was highly skilled and well trained. To bring in foreign investment, Singapore developed an attractive tax system that is one of the lowest in Asia. This would bring in shipping and manufacturing businesses to their shores. With the influx of money and a rise in the economy, they were able to improve the infrastructure and housing of the country that gave a boost to the standard of living. The country’s escape from poverty has been a success, as Singapore’s current GDP per capita is $57,714.30 as of 2017.
  4. Bolivia: Once regarded as one of the poorest nations in South America, landlocked Bolivia is now a rapidly growing economy. The country’s poverty rate plummeted from 59 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in 2015, while at the same time extreme poverty dropped from 38 percent to 18 percent. The recent success of Bolivia can be contributed to the policies of the current leader Evo Morales installed to fight poverty. He implemented price controls over the products being sold in Bolivia such as food and gasoline so the poor could properly afford these items. While this didn’t create jobs, it did increase spending and allowed the economy to grow. Morales also created a pension of $258 to go towards those aged 60 and up to allow the elderly to escape from poverty.
  5. South Korea: After years of Japanese occupation and the end of the Korean War, South Korea’s economy was suffering in the 1950s. South Korea was not an industrialized nation and the main focus of its economy was agriculture. In 1960, South Korea’s GDP per capita was $79, which changed once General Park Chung-hee took charge of the country. Chung-hee implemented a five-year plan in 1962 that industrialized South Korea, creating jobs for the people. Companies like Hyundai, Samsung and LG would receive economic incentives, such as tax breaks, to help grow their businesses. South Korea also took advantage of U.S. economic assistance in exchange for letting the United States military keep troops in the country. Today, South Korea is a thriving economy, and as of 2017, enjoys a GDP per capita of just under $30,000. In addition, the country now accounts for $56 billion of U.S. exports, indicating a strong return on the $5.6 billion of aid invested decades ago.

Being able to rid a country from the grips of poverty involves a certain level of risk and ingenuity. Whether it’s by using the resources in their country, receiving foreign aid from other countries or changing their economic system, these countries that escaped from poverty show it is possible.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

As the second largest luxury goods company in the world, Richemont always gives us an impression of noble and unreachable. However, this luxury group is generated from impoverished land in Africa.

Generated from a cigarette company in South Africa, Richemont successfully shows us the transition from agricultural business based on impoverished areas into a worldwide-leading luxury consumer goods sector. Through Richemont, we could see the vast potential commercial opportunities in Africa.

Born and raised in the small town of Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, Anton Rupert started manufacturing cigarettes from his garage with a £10 investment in the 1940s. Soon, he established the Rembrandt group and relied on his tobacco business in South Africa, and it became one of the largest tobacco firms in Africa.

In 1988, Rupert’s eldest son, Johann Ruperts, divided the Rembrandt group into two companies—Remegro and Richemont. Remegro is an investment company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and it holds properties in various industries, such as the banking, healthcare and industrial sectors. Richemont is a Swiss-based luxury goods company, where Johann Ruperts serves as CEO since 2010.

According to Forbes, the Africa based Remegro is one of the top 10 family businesses in Africa. At the same time, Richemont has been developing rapidly since being divided from Rembrandt. However, the influence of tobacco business has been crucial in it.

Since founded in 1988, in addition to holdings in luxury brands, such as Cartier Monde and Alfred Dunhill, Richemont also acquired Rembrandt’s shares in Rothmans International, a British tobacco manufacturer. In 1993, Richemont separated its tobacco and luxury goods operations into Rothmans Internationa NV/PLC and Vendôme Luxury Group SA/PLC respectively. In 1995, Richemont bought out of Rothmans International minority shareholders, and in the next year, Richemont increased its property by merging its tobacco interests with those in South Africa held by Remegro and holding 67 percent of the enlarged tobacco group. In 1999, after Rothmans International with British American Tobacco, Richemont holds 23.3 percent effective interest in the enlarged British American Tobacco. Although from 2000 to 2006 Richemont had been reducing its effective interest in British American Tobacco from 23.3 to 18.2 percent, its effective interests have increased to 30 percent in 2007 as British American Tobacco’s share buyback programm reduces the overall number of shares in issue.

Recently, Richemont belongs to the luxury consumer goods sector, whose business includes jewelry, fine watchmaking and premium accessories. Its “Jewellery Maisons,” which produces high jewelry and jewlry watches, mainly includes Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, which lead the global branded jewelry sector. Its eight specialist watchmakers are concentrated in Switzerland and are the most renowned in the fine watchmaking industry. In addition, 30 percent of Richemont is in the industry of premium accessories, including writing instruments, leather goods and fashion.

Nowadays, Richemont is the second largest luxury goods company worldwide. Regarding the developmental history of its business, Africa has always been the backup for its luxury consumer goods sector. Thus, Richemont demonstrates the possibility of transition from poverty to luxury, and it shows us vast commercial opportunity in the land of Africa.

Shengyu Wang

Sources: Forbes, Richemont
Photo: BizNews

Tanzania-Child-Survival-GoalMillennium Development Goal 4: “Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.”

Tanzania is one of the only African countries that has achieved this goal. There is much to celebrate with the country’s accomplishment; however, we must not ignore other critical areas of work that need prioritization. A thorough analysis of the efforts in Tanzania is important to understand what strategies have been effective in the region.

Successes in Tanzania

  • Reduction in child deaths after first month of life
  • 12,500 lives saved thanks to vaccines
  • 9,300 lives saved from malaria programs
  • 5,800 lives saved from HIV/AIDS programs

Areas for Improvement

  • Maternal and newborn survival can be improved
  • Reduction of stillbirths needed
  • Low contraceptive use in Western and Lake Zones
  • Rural poor lack access to health services
  • Shortage of health workers

The achievement of MDG4 is significant in Tanzania. Child deaths after one month of life have decreased at a rate of 8 percent per year during the last decade. This is 50 percent faster than in the 1990s.

Most lives have been saved from programs that increase access to vaccines, address malaria and work to decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS. These types of programs have received the most funding, and therefore these results should be expected.

In Tanzania, 40 percent of national child deaths are newborns. This indicates a need to improve health services in the critical time surrounding childbirth.

Rural women are twice as likely to deliver their children in private homes versus health facilities. Estimates indicate that Tanzania needs 23 health workers per 10,000 people, but Tanzania currently only has five health workers per 10,000 people.

It is evident that portions of the population have not benefitted from some of the improvements Tanzania has experienced as a country. The identification of these categories of people is critical in order to further decrease mortality rates in the country.

High mortality rates slow the rate of development of entire communities and prevent poverty-stricken families from obtaining enough resources to support themselves.

The good news is that this case study of Tanzania estimates that “60,000 lives could be saved each year with intensified efforts to achieve universal access to essential health services.”

Iliana Lang

Sources: WHO, The Lancet, UNDP
Photo: Global Post

5 Major Successes in the Global War on Poverty-TBP

This month will mark the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, just two of the programs that constitute the American War on Poverty. Although remaining under constant threat and scrutiny, social programs such as these have noticeably decreased poverty levels in the United States from 26% in 1967 to 16% in 2012. To Americans, those figures might seem significant. However, they pale in comparison to much of the progress made on a global scale. Below is a list of five quantifiable successes in the global war on poverty that put America’s efforts to shame.

1. Between 1990 and 2010 extreme global poverty was cut in half.

Obviously, this is fantastic news for humanity. In 1990, half of the population living in the developing world lived on less than $1.25 per day. Only two decades later, the rate fell to 22%. At this pace the levels of global poverty declined enough to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) five years ahead of schedule. Nevertheless, work still lies ahead for the UNDP. Recent economic stagnation has deflated the prospects for job growth in many developing countries with 56% of all employment deemed vulnerable. Not surprisingly, this employment risk is greater for women, who show higher rates of vulnerable employment across the board. Overall, though, this is a monumental achievement that bodes well for the 21st century.

2. Hunger is expected to decline by half by the end of 2015.

If all goes according to plan this year, global hunger should also meet the UNDP’s Millenium Development Goals. In developing regions, the rate has fallen from 26% in 1990-92 to 14.3% in 2011 to 2013. This adds up 173 million people no longer suffering from chronic hunger. While in 1990, 40% of young children had inadequate height for their age, today this figure stands at 25%. Despite progress, global hunger remains a pressing issue; in total, 842 million people still suffer from chronic hunger. In regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, one in four remain malnourished. While much more still needs to be done, the heads of three U.N. food agencies encouragingly wrote, “This is proof that we can win the war against hunger and should inspire countries to move forward, with the assistance of the international community as needed.”

3. The debt burden of developing countries has fallen greatly.

While concerns over debts have risen recently in developed countries the opposite is true in the developing world. In 2012, the debt burden—or the proportion of external debt to export revenue— was 3.1%, a quarter of what it was in 2000. This is due in part to increased trade, better management of debt and foreign aid from the developed world that have reduced the debts of many of the poorest countries in the developing world.

4. Modern communications is taking off in the developing world.

At the end of 2014, the number of Internet-users worldwide hit nearly three billion people, or essentially 40% of the global population. Of these three billion, two-thirds lived in developing countries, where, according to a UNDP report, “the number of Internet users doubled in just five years between 2009 and 2014.” Africa represents the vanguard of this transition with 20% of inhabitants now on the Internet, in comparison to just 10% in 2010. Still, four billion lack access to the Internet with 90% of these people from the developing world. While today only a third of the youth in developing nations are digital connoisseurs, with five years of experience on the Internet, this number is expected double in the next five years. The global spread of communications technology relies greatly upon young digital natives welcoming technology into the developing world.

5. Africa is actually making notable progress.

Despite its reputation as perpetually impoverished and continuously unstable, Africa has experienced a variety of successes in recent years. Most notably, headway has been made in disease prevention and control. Many countries have experienced dramatic increases in retroviral therapy coverage for AIDS/HIV. Rwanda increased coverage from just 1% in 2003 to 71% in 2007, while Namibia’s coverage grew from 1% in 2003 to 88% in 2007. The Southern African Initiative has also worked to eliminate childhood death from measles in seven countries through vaccination efforts. Economic growth has also expanded, with countries such as Mozambique paving the way. Since the end of its civil war in 1992, Mozambique grew at a rate of 8% annually on average. Between 1997 and 2003, its rate of poverty fell by 15%, lifting almost three million people out of extreme poverty. However, half of its population is still impoverished. Mozambique represents much of Africa’s recent improvements; good, but not yet good enough.

Andrew Logan

Sources: The United Nations, United Nations Development Fund 1, United Nations Development Fund 2, United Nations Development Fund 3, The Washington Post, The World Bank
Photo: Wikipedia

Since 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has successfully worked to alleviate poverty in 39 nations worldwide. Created to facilitate “smart U.S. foreign assistance,” the U.S. foreign aid agency takes a unique, country-based approach to addressing the root causes of poverty.

The MCC has approved over $10 billion in programs to promote sustainable economic growth. It partners with low- and middle-income nations to fund country-led initiatives that open markets, educate populations and encourage national and international investment.

“Funding is not a ‘giveaway,’ but a benefit that a country earns through hard work and good policy performance,” said John Hewko, vice president of the MCC from 2004-2009, “Recipient countries identify problems and solutions locally rather than accepting programs that are often viewed as highly politicized and motivated by objectives other than long-term development.”

The MCC first determines the eligibility of a nation to receive funding through a rigorous, competitive selection process. Countries must prove that their existing policies promote good governance, transparency, economic freedom and investment in citizens.

Some governments have dramatically altered their laws to openly endorse market growth. This phenomenon – termed the “MCC effect” – encouraged the nation of El Salvador to reduce business start-up time from 115 to 26 days in order to apply for MCC funding in 2005.

The MCC then analyzes a country’s proposal for funding and determines whether it can realistically attain its goals within the span of a five-year “compact.” A compact requires a country’s physical and financial investment in a program in exchange for MCC funding. A local municipality called a Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) manages the compact implementation, and independent fiscal agents monitor funds thoroughly and transparently.

In 2007, the Millennium Challenge Corporation invested in a $461 million compact with El Salvador focusing on infrastructure and human development. The compact required that local municipalities and beneficiary communities fund a small portion of project costs.

The MCC projects that the compact will provide employment and economic opportunity to over 700,000 Salvadorans in the next 20 years.

Since the compact’s implementation in 2006, over 10,000 people in El Salvador and major cities in the U.S. participated in consultations. Several business owners in the U.S. have invested in long-term, business opportunities in the Northern Zone, which has been impoverished since the Civil War in the 1980s.

MCC efforts in El Salvador have produced tangible results and garnered international acclaim. Upon completion in 2012, the compact expanded electrification to 12 percent more households, provided potable water to 7,600 families and allowed 12,000 Salvadorans – 60 percent women – to access vocational training.

The El Salvador Compact has also expanded economic opportunities for dairy farmers and other small businesses that operate in the isolated Northern Zone. FOMILENIO, the MCA of the El Salvador Compact, managed the construction of the Northern Transnational Highway Project. Improved road connectivity combined with investments in training, technology and product marketing assisted 17,500 producers.

In September 2014, the MCC established another $277 million compact in El Salvador to address a lack of employment and infrastructure to continue its legacy.

“The MCC process has generated significant goodwill in developing countries and contributed to U.S. foreign policy objectives in those where it operates,” said Hewko.

– Paulina Menichiello

Sources: The Brookings Institution, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The World Bank
Photo: Segura Consulting LLC


Three and a half billion people are affected worldwide, a disease that affects people of all levels of income and the cause of $70 billion lost in overall GDP: anemia.

Anemia is a disease that results from the lack of iron in the human body. It can cause weakness, shortness of breath, headaches and dizziness and can prevent growth in children; however, it can also be cured with a simple little fish. This Lucky Fish is being used in Cambodia and has cut the rates of anemia in half. After a trip to Cambodia, Dr. Christopher Charles saw first-hand how terribly anemia was affecting the lives of children and women in the region, inspiring the development of the Lucky Iron Fish, which has been introduced to several villages within it.

The fish has always been an auspicious symbol in Cambodian culture, and it looks like this fish might just save their lives. Appearing as a smiling fish, about 7.5 centimeters and weighing no more than 200 grams, all one has to do is boil it in a saucepan along with food, add a dash of lemon to increase iron absorption, and they are all set. These fish are chemically designed to release 75 percent of a person’s daily need for iron and last a family for up to 5 years.

After having distributed several iron fish to Cambodian communities, the Lucky Iron Fish Project has seen a 50 percent decrease in the rates of anemia in just 9 months. This is a vast improvement from previous attempts at curing anemia with iron supplement pills; these proved to be too much of a hassle for many of the villagers. This fish is simple, convenient and easy to use. One woman spoke to the BBC and stated that she was “happy, the blood test results show that [she has] the iron deficiency problem, so [she hopes she] will be cured and will be healthy soon. [She thinks] all the people in Sekeroung village will like the fish, because fish is [their] everyday food.” Many NGOs face a lot of push-back from the communities they seek to help, so this kind of reaction is very promising.

When people do not have to worry about meals and nutrients, and no longer feel weak and tired all the time, a lot more innovation can occur. By focusing on the root of the issue and providing stable diets to these communities, they are being primed to become hubs of success. A developing country can develop faster when all of its citizens are able to put their best foot forward and think clearly. A lot of change can come from one little fish, and with countless people affected with anemia worldwide purchasing these fish, and “schools of fish” for Cambodia, it looks like a big difference can be made. This one little fish can really help the world to “just keep swimming.”

– Sumita Tellakat

Sources: The Lucky Iron Fish, BC Corporation, Science Alert, BBC
Photo: The Lucky Iron Fish

President Barack Obama’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) was implemented in the early part of this decade. The United States is working with nations in the Caribbean on substantially reducing illicit trafficking, increasing public safety and security and promoting social justice.


SKYE, or The Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment, program was a direct result of this initiative. It is funded by USAID, managed by the Education Development Center and works with private sector partners, government ministries, community agencies and NGOs.

Their goal is to train and educate the community’s youth in the areas that have been identified as priorities by public and private sector employers in Guyana. Those areas are communications, personal development, local labor laws and financial literacy.

SKYE works with the local youth that are school dropouts, youth who have completed formal education or training but do not have the necessary skills to find employment, and youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Not only does SKYE train these youth, but it sees them into the working force through the use of “employment coaches.”

It is often easy to train the youth, but to see them into the workforce is the daunting task. That is why many employment coaches stayed paired with their youth until they find work. As of June 2014, more than 1,100 youth have completed SKYE’s work readiness training and 400 graduates have already found employment.

Popularity and Success

The program has become so popular and received such a reputation for producing work-ready employees with positive attitudes that BK Quarries, one of the region’s largest employers, recently asked for twenty more SKYE graduates after hiring fourteen.

An April 2004 SKYE graduation ceremony, in which 57 youth graduated, was led by the U.S. ambassador to Guyana, D. Brent Hardt. In the ceremony’s opening speech, he said that SKYE was focused on “strengthening an environment that facilitates youth development, supporting the reintegration to society of high-risk populations, supporting Guyana’s youth in their efforts to find employment or start their own businesses, and supporting the greater engagement of young people as active Guyanese citizens.”

Fiona Wills, who directs SKYE, credited the program’s success to its emphasis on providing youth with one-on-one support and letting each one decide on a path that interests him or her: “Everything we do is about empowering young people to help themselves.”

With this momentum, the program will only continue to move forward at its empowering pace, as it is targeting the right demographic. For there to be a better tomorrow, in any country, we need to focus on breaking the preconceived notions of the youth.

Poverty, and the constraints it invokes, needs to be shown to be breakable. If the youth of a country can’t break free of the poverty cycle through employment programs and other aids, then that country is permanently stuck in poverty’s grip. With programs like SKYE in effect, the world has a better chance of elevating all of its citizens to a place where they can provide their own food, shelter, and clothing.

Frederick Wood II

Sources: InterAction, Guyana Times, Embassy of the United States, USAID Blog
Photo: Flickr

plant with a purpose
Plant With Purpose is a San Diego-based Christian development organization. It assists the impoverished living in rural areas “where poverty and environmental degradation intersect” globally.

Through agricultural training, restoring the land and providing financial education, Plant With Purpose helps poor farming families become self-sufficient. To date, they have helped plant 11.9 million trees since their founding in 1984.

Plant With Purpose is currently present in more than 325 communities, providing aid and support to over 17,132 individuals within Burundi, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, Tanzania and Thailand.

Location: Davi, Haiti

The Need: In Haiti, only 2 percent of its original forestry remains. Eighty-four percent of the population lives in poverty, and the country imports 60 percent of its food needs. Half of Haitian children under 5 are undernourished. With the help of Plant With Purpose, smallholder farming families are planting trees, implementing soil conservation methods and preventing soil erosion. Locals are educated on sustainable agriculture methods that restore the land and increase their food production and incomes. Village Savings and Loan Associations are also implemented.

Instead of providing food aid, Plant With Purpose is educating for self-sufficiency.

The communities in Davi are facing particular hardships. Floods and landslides cause destruction every rainy season, washing away the fertile topsoil and preventing farmers from growing crops. Families are forced to migrate to cities to find work. Plant With Purpose is working to reverse deforestation through its various methodologies.

Progress: Assisted families showed a 46 percent decrease in cholera and a 50 percent decrease in typhoid, compared with others. They also now actively save cash four times more frequently. They cultivate about 20 percent more land, own 30 percent more land and protect 20 percent more land through reforestation or erosion control.

These families also plant about three times as many trees as non-assisted local families.

Location: Panasawan & Pang Dang Nok, Thailand

The Need: The government of Thailand refuses to recognize many hill tribe members as citizens. Thus, they have few legal rights. They also have limited access to healthy fields, leaving them to grow crops on devastated hillsides. Plant With Purpose has been working with these communities to help them learn sustainable farming techniques and advocate for legal status in Thailand.

The village of Panasawan suffers from extreme poverty and a destroyed environment. Soil erosion, poor water quality and sanitation, difficult access to land rights and lacking availability of credit has ensnared the community in the cycle of poverty and environmental degradation. Plant With Purpose is providing farmers with environmental and financial training and economic opportunities necessary to break the cycle.

Progress: Hill tribe farming families are gaining access to land and basic rights. Village Savings and Loan Associations are providing a means to save and gain credit. Plant With Purpose is also helping congregations better meet the needs of their communities by training leaders.

Families aided now have twice as many children enrolled in high school, are 31 percent more likely to actively save cash, are 41 percent more likely to own land that is protected, have planted 2.5 times more trees, have shown a 19 percent decrease in admitted gambling and are 20 percent more likely to eat meat, eggs or fish on a daily or weekly basis.

Location: Lyasongoro, Tanzania

The Need: In Tanzania, Plant With Purpose mainly works with women, many of whom are widows or single mothers, because women and children there represent the poorest segment of the communities. Roughly 98 percent of these women who work earn through agriculture, but because they don’t have access to the same training their male counterparts receive, their yields suffer.

Plant With Purpose  provides agricultural training, which doubles crop output, and plants over a million trees each year around Mt. Kilimanjaro. They are also establishing Village Savings and Loan Associations.

Progress: Assisted families showed a 65 percent decrease in diarrheal disease and a 70 percent decrease in typhoid incidence. It’s also true that 99 percent of these families actively save cash, compared with 48 percent previously, and 50 percent have enough savings to cover household expenses for six months, compared with 6 percent previously.

Of participant families, 80 percent own cattle, which is 42 percent higher than those not assisted, and 66 percent of participants earn some household income through microenterprise endeavors, a significant 43 percent higher than those who were not trained.

Location: El Café, Dominican Republic

The Need: While the Dominican Republic is gaining wealth, there is a growing gap between the rich and poor. The most impoverished, deforested regions exist near the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The Dominican government relies on Plant With Purpose to help with their reforestation programs.

El Café mainly profits off of its oregano crop, but recent deforestation threatens this trade. Plant With Purpose is helping to replenish the soil and diversify their economy. The organization has started a nursery, growing seedlings, fruit trees and other plants to replenish the forests and provide an additional source of income. Plant With Purpose has also provided a solar drier to villagers to convert their oregano into a marketable good. They are also offering workshops teaching sustainable farming and land conservation methods.

Progress: Families who work with the organization own twice as much land and protect 75 percent more land than non-participant families. These households are 60 percent more likely to own cattle as well.

Cacao, a valuable cash crop, is harvested 30 percent more often by Plant With Purpose farmers than other locals. Assisted families have planted almost three times as many trees than before.

Location: Kiremba, Burundi

The Need: In the world’s hungriest country, 80 percent of Burundi’s 8.5 million people live below the poverty line. At least 90 percent of Burundians depend on agriculture, but their farmland has been devastated by deforestation, drought, war and over-farming. Plant With Purpose is helping these farmers access land and maximize their productivity. They are also working with agriculture research institutions to provide disease-resistant crops. Through the introduced Village Savings and Loan Associations, villagers are saving their money and providing loans to others.

Progress: Plant With Purpose reports that 95 percent of farmers in associations have shared their knowledge with other farmers; each farmer shares with an average of 23.5 people. Participants are 24 percent more likely to save cash than non-participants, have planted three times as many trees as non-participants and have harvested 31 different crops, compared with 20 crops harvested by non-participant farmers.

Location: Tamazola, Mexico

The Need: In Oaxaca and Chiapas, two of the poorest states in Mexico, more than 75 percent of indigenous people live in extreme poverty. As men migrate to find work elsewhere, women are frequently left to care for their children and households.

Plant With Purpose is teaching families in rural communities to plant vegetable gardens that will increase their food production and incomes. Village Savings and Loan Associations have also been established to provide financial security and opportunity.

Progress: Plant With Purpose reports that participant households actively save cash 68 percent of the time, while non-participants save cash only 45 percent of the time, with participants being 43 percent more likely to have enough savings to cover six months of needs. Seventy-seven percent of participants own cattle, compared with 51 percent of non-participants, with the number of cattle owned by participants being twice that of the number owned by non-participants. Only seven percent of participant households have dirt floors in their homes compared with 29 percent of non-participant households. Participant farmers harvested 22 different crops, compared with eight by non-participants.

Plant With Purpose has seen measurable success from its efforts, objectively putting donations to good use. If seeking an effective, Christian-based charity that assists the poor on the ground, look no further. Personal contributions can be guaranteed to yield maximal benefit in the hands of this organization.

– Elias Goodman

Sources: Charity Navigator, Plan with Purpose, Scribd
Photo: New Identity Magazine

Ethical Vacation Destinations
Recently becoming the world’s largest industry, travel is one of the hottest commodities on the market. With a trillion-dollar annual footprint, the travel business has major economic and political power. However, not all destinations are created equal. Where you, as a traveler, choose to journey can either encourage best practice behavior from mindful countries, or support the harmful tourist industries of their irresponsible counterparts.

Ethical Traveler is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that seeks to use tourism to protect human rights and the environment. Every year, Ethical Traveler compiles a list of 10 developing countries with vibrant tourism industries that will put your traveling expenses to good use.

The countries that made the list are those that scored best in the categories of support of human rights, preservation of the environment, social welfare and animal welfare. According to Ethical Traveler, “Each country selected as a Best Ethical Destination also offers the opportunity to experience unspoiled natural beauty, and to interact with local people and cultures in a meaningful, mutually enriching way.”

This year’s winners may surprise you; the majority of these unusual destinations are off the beaten path, but promise an outstanding vacation with values you can feel good about. Here are the 10 most ethical vacation destinations.

The Bahamas

These islands prioritize conservation and sustainability, as shown by the efforts to establish new Marine Protected Areas and the expansion of a number of protected acres in a major National Park. The Bahamas made great strides to combat human trafficking this year, with the first prosecution under human trafficking law.


Cited by Ethical Traveler as a “best practice model for the Caribbean,” Barbados promotes sustainable tourism while protecting its coastline. The child mortality rate in Barbados is particularly low, and this nation received the highest possible score in the categories of Political Rights and Civil Liberties –higher even than some developed countries.

Cape Verde

This country has the goal of making energy 100 percent renewable over the next two decades. Cape Verde is also an outstanding example of an African country with stellar attention to political and civil rights, with laws that prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and holding its first Gay Pride Week this year — the second to take place in all of Africa.


This island boasts unspoiled forests and native species. An emphasis on protecting wildlife includes the preservation of native frog and iguana populations, along with a valiant effort to save endemic mountain chickens, which only inhabit two islands in the world. Dominica has expanded solar power across the island, and has the goal of being energy-independent and carbon negative by 2020.


Of the winning destinations, Latvia scored the highest in environmental protection. This nation has been acknowledged as one of the top performers in the world in both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. Not only does this country have a pristine environmental record, it is the highest ranked of the 10 countries in gender equality.


Like Latvia, Lithuania is a leader in environmental and animal protection. Lithuania made strides in social welfare this year by reaching it’s Millennium Development Goal for under 5 mortality rate, which has dropped by a whopping 52 percent since 2000.


This year Mauritius announced an impressive renewable energy goal, aiming for 35 percent renewable use over the next two decades. The U.N. praised Mauritius for having made ‘substantial progress’ in social welfare this year, due to their improvements in property rights and labor freedom.


In Palau, 28.2 percent of precious marine and terrestrial area is protected – the highest percentage out of all the countries on this list. Press freedom in Palau is impressive; this country prides itself on exemplary freedom of press for a developing country.


Uruguay is in the process of building 21 wind farms, and is working toward the goal of 90 percent renewable electricity by 2015. Uruguay dominates the category of human rights, with laws passed this year allowing marriage equality and the legalization of steps toward ending unsafe abortions. This country’s equality ranking was second only to Chile.

By visiting the destinations on this list, travelers can reward developing countries for their promotion of sustainable tourism and ethical laws. The additional economic support from tourism will allow these nations to continue improving their countries, and protect the valuable natural resources that make them such appealing places to explore.

Grace Flaherty 

Sources: BBC 1, BBC 2, Ethical Traveler
Photo: BBC