How an Individual's Impact on Poverty Reduction Can Make a Difference
The Borgen Project was started with one person who wanted to make a difference. Clint Borgen started his endeavor to create The Borgen Project after seeing the poverty and conflict during the genocide in Kosovo. When he returned, he moved to Alaska to join a fishing expedition in order to make money to start his organization. The Borgen Project started with one person’s bold ideas and passionate heart setting to eradicate global poverty. There are many other ambitious individuals, like Clint Borgen, that have started organizations focusing on reducing poverty. The following organizations show how an individual’s impact on poverty reduction can generate a movement leading to organizations that work toward a world with less poverty.

  1. ONE is an international organization that focuses on action and campaigning to end extreme poverty and prevent diseases. The co-founders for ONE are Bono, the lead singer of U2 and Bobby Shriver, son of the founder of The Peace Corps. These two passionate men came together to start ONE, an international campaign and advocacy organization of more than nine million people around the world. This organization prioritizes social justice and equality in the world. ONE utilizes its advocacy power to encourage government programs to make lives better around the world. It is funded almost entirely through foundations and corporations.
  2. Concern Worldwide has focused on working with the world’s most vulnerable people for 50 years. This organization was founded by John and Kay O’Loughlin-Kennedy in response to the famine that occurred when the province of Biafra tried to secede from Nigeria. In 1968, this organization, then called Africa Concern, focused in Africa sending supplies to the people affected in Biafra. In 1970, Africa Concern turned into Concern Worldwide with volunteers encouraged to respond to natural disasters causing poverty in other communities as well. Today, Concern Worldwide focuses on emergencies, health, nutrition, education and livelihoods to reduce poverty. This organization operates on donations and utilizes 90 percent of its funds for relief and development.
  3. Trickle Up envisions a world where no one lives in extreme poverty or vulnerability. In 1979, Mildred Robbins Leet founded this organization with the goal to help people out of poverty. The group’s work aims to help women, people with disabilities, refugees and other economically and socially excluded people. Its goal is to continue lifting millions of people out of extreme poverty and to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Instead of giving individuals money, Trickle Up provides people with seed capital grants, skills training and the support to create small businesses in order to help individuals reach economic self-sufficiency. Trickle Up’s approach starts with stabilizing one’s family, planning and building a livelihood, connecting and saving in groups, investing and growing businesses and finding an individual voice to advocate when people need to speak up in their communities. This organization tracks its individual impact on poverty reduction by focusing on the changes people experience in their quality of life. They keep track of data on how the organization helps others combat hunger, build livelihoods, gain access to savings and credit and empower individuals for social involvement.

These organizations, founded by only one or two people, represent how an individual’s impact on poverty reduction by ordinary people can generate change in the world. Clint Borgen, Bono, Bobby Shriver, John and Kay O’Loughlin-Kennedy and Mildred Robbins Leet exemplify the possibility of how one person can make a huge impact. These individuals are a testament to grassroots movements and why each person should feel empowered to make a difference.

– Jenna Walmer
Photo: Flickr