SheaMoisture's philanthropic efforts in Africa
As brands in the U.S. continue to see the importance of fair trade and ethically-conscious practices in business, many have also developed philanthropic initiatives. SheaMoisture’s philanthropic efforts in Africa have helped thousands of economically disadvantaged women and children gain resources to educational and entrepreneurial resources.

The hair and skin care brand was established under Sundial Brands, which was founded by Richelieu Dennis in 1991. Since then, SheaMoisture acquired an estimated $300 million in revenue before it was sold to Unilever in 2017.

SheaMoisture’s Philanthropic Efforts in Africa

Nations that have benefitted from SheaMoisture’s philanthropic efforts in Africa include Ghana and Liberia. In these two countries, women face cultural oppression in the areas of education and entrepreneurship.

In a report published by the U.N., it was stated that women in Ghana are more vulnerable to poverty than men due to gender discrimination and increasingly difficult access to productive resources. This has also led to women facing greater challenges with obtaining a post-primary education.

Women in Liberia face economic challenges due to a poor governance structure and low private sector capacity that has resulted in a weak business environment within the nation. Furthermore, Liberia’s labor force lacks many skilled and literate people, which has resulted in lingering business corruption.

Over the years, SheaMoisture’s philanthropic efforts in Africa have included initiatives such as Community Commerce, the Girls Entrepreneurship and Technology (GET) Program and the Sofi Tucker Foundation.

Community Commerce

SheaMoisture established a special line of products under their Community Commerce initiative, where 10 percent of sales support women in Ghana, among other nations. This venture has been a success because it has brought economic opportunities to women threatened by poverty and educational disadvantages.

Over time, Community Commerce has invested an estimated $2.1 million in its programs, which have brought needed resources to an estimated 14,500 Ghanaian women. The company, in turn, has been able to meet its product demand, with an estimated 420,000 kilos of shea butter having been produced by women who are beneficiaries of Community Commerce.

The GET Program for Students

Another initiative SheaMoisture has established is the GET Program, which was established in partnership with SMART Liberia. The program provides women between the ages of 18 to 35 the opportunities to start their own businesses by giving them resources like training and business investments.

In its inaugural year in 2016, the program selected 50 young women in Liberia to participate, several of whom have gone on to start and manage their own businesses.

The Sofi Tucker Foundation

Another philanthropic initiative established by the company is the Sofi Tucker Foundation, which was named after the woman who inspired the SheaMoisture brand.

The organization has awarded other non-profits with grants up to $25,000 to continue philanthropy work. One organization that has benefitted from these efforts is Todee Mission School in Liberia, which provides quality educational resources to children from first grade to ninth grade from 140 villages in rural Liberia.

As of now, thousands of people initially threatened by poverty have been able to establish stronger financial and educational platforms for their futures. This is due to SheaMoisture’s philanthropic efforts in Africa and the ongoing efforts brands have made over the years to combat poverty in nations with fragile economies.

– Lois Charm

Photo: Flickr

Lesser Known Organizations Addressing PovertyMany U.S.-based organizations work hard to reduce poverty internationally. Not all of them have the same name recognition or notoriety, but they are all engaging in equally important and effective work. From nonprofits to research organizations, these are just some of the lesser known organizations addressing poverty in developing nations.

Lesser Known Organizations Addressing Poverty

  1. Africare
    Africare, one of the largest African-American led organizations with an almost entirely African-American staff, focuses on community-driven development in Africa. Working with the tools of community engagement, local public-private partnerships, locally driven behavior change and capacity building, Africare seeks to improve economic development, nutrition, water and sanitation and women’s and youth empowerment. Since Africare’s founding, it has provided more than $1 billion in assistance to people across Africa.
  2. The Hunger Project
    Operating for 40 years, The Hunger Project develops women-centered, grassroots strategies to help individuals out of poverty and hunger. Working in more than 16,000 communities internationally, The Hunger Project promotes self-reliant, community-led development, and partnerships with local governments to create sustainable change in communities facing poverty. Working in 12 countries and reaching 17 million people, The Hunger Project is creating community-led development for many, representing one of many lesser known organizations addressing poverty.
  3. Trickle Up
    Trickle Up, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization seeks to help people rise out of poverty internationally, focusing on those who are disproportionately affected – refugees, individuals with disabilities, women, indigenous populations and people in rural areas. The organization uses a program called Graduation, which involves a step by step process to lift individuals out of poverty. Recipients are given a small grant to start a business and paired with other local people to create a savings group. From there, individuals are coached and taught skills to build their business, confidence and livelihoods. With 250,000 participants and more than 1 million lives impacted, this nonprofit is generating great change.
  4. The Earth Institute
    Based out of Columbia University in New York City, The Earth Institute is a group of researchers, policy experts, scientists, economists and students all seeking to guide policy towards sustainability worldwide. It works domestically and internationally on a wide variety of topics, including climate, urbanization, water and energy, but also helping individuals out of poverty. By working on sustainable and efficient policy, such as preventing flooding in developing nations, The Earth Institute creates policy that improves the quality of life of individuals worldwide.
  5. Innovations for Poverty Action
    Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is one of the lesser known organizations addressing poverty through dedicated evaluations of current programs designed to help impoverished populations and providing evidence showing which approaches work and which do not. IPA identified a gap in the data available and created a mission to fill it. It works closely with governments, for-profit companies, nonprofits and civil society to create evidence-based programs to help poor individuals out of poverty. The work is evaluation focused but provides a body of evidence that can be drawn upon for program design and development.
  6. Bread For The World
    Bread For The World is a Christian nonprofit that works in a bipartisan way to urge policymakers to pass policies focused on food security that improve the lives of those living in poverty both domestically and abroad. Working at the policy level, Bread For The World provides individuals with advocacy tools to help them write letters, email or call members of Congress to promote poverty reducing policy. Since its inception in 1974, Bread For The World has successfully funded foreign aid and domestic policy to reduce poverty worldwide.

The field of international development is vast, and with many different organizations trying to address poverty internationally, it can be hard to know where to look to see what is being done. In addition to the many large organizations working internationally, we cannot forget about lesser-known organizations addressing poverty in developing nations.

– Katherine Kirker

Photo: Flickr

AT&T philanthropy
In 1876, AT&T founder Alexander Graham Bell developed one of the most significant devices ever invented, the telephone. In 1947, AT&T created the concept of cellular telephony, and in 1948 they built the first network service that allowed television broadcasters to connect between cities. In 1971, AT&T produced Unix, the underlying language of the internet.

In addition to its technical advancements, for AT&T philanthropy has become one of its core missions, beginning in the early days with the goal to provide telephone access to every household in the United States. Eventually, that core focus evolved as AT&T transitioned from a telephone company to a wireless technology company firmly committed to the potential for technological advances that connected the world.

In its drive for global interconnectivity, AT&T has donated $139.3 million to philanthropic efforts around the globe. Their programs are divided into several focus areas, including art and culture, civic and community, health and welfare, as well as education.

In Malaysia, AT&T partnered with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to host an annual developers’ day in Kuala Lumpur. The event opened opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Asia to compete by producing mobile applications.

AT&T philanthropy efforts provided the networking infrastructure and educational resources that made the event a success. The winners of the competition received $10,000. Additionally, AT&T provided five scholarships to Udacity for an online degree in the technology field.

In Mexico, AT&T funds a project called “Laboratoria”. This organization discovers talented women and helps them learn the skills they need to be successful in the business world, including teaching them web development and programming. The curriculum is comprehensive and connects graduates with companies that will likely hire them, including AT&T.

Other charities that AT&T is involved with include TECHO, a youth-led nonprofit focused on poverty-stricken areas in Latin America and the Carribean. AT&T’s funding of TECHO supports the building of pre-manufactured modular homes, made in two days with the participation of youth volunteers and families in the community. The collaborative aspects of TECHO’s approach help to further build trust amongst the volunteers and the communities they serve.

In 2016, AT&T philanthropy efforts granted $1.35 million to Télécoms Sans Frontières. Headquartered in Europe with sister stations in Bangkok and Nicaragua, they provide emergency telco service and support to first responders, victims and volunteers who are affected by natural disasters.

AT&T also supports Junior Achievement worldwide in Europe and Latin America, which awards students access to work experience program,s granting scholars the ability to join entrepreneurial programs that empower them to learn how to create their enterprise.

Uniquely, AT&T’s philanthropy efforts do not merely fund free giveaways. They have curated their philanthropy to focus on significant long-term solutions offering education and job readiness courses.

AT&T’s mission statement says, “Today, our mission is to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else.” The firm belief of connecting everyone everywhere has enabled AT&T to support causes that cover every continent on the globe.

– Hector Cruz

Photo: Flickr

 The Impact of World Vision in the Developing World
World Vision is an Evangelical Christian humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organization. It has many recent success stories including helping 4 million sponsored children, disaster survivors and refugees, strongly impacting education, providing clean water and so much more.

What is World Vision?

World Vision emphasizes its sponsorship program — a $39 a month service that provides essentials including clean water, nutrition and education to a sponsored child and his/her community. Sponsors receive photos, letters and updates of the impacts made.

World Vision focuses on fragile states by developing new approaches to enable transitions out of fragility. Its strong program areas include water, sanitation, hygiene, health, livelihoods, food assistance, child protection and education.

The organization partners with churches, donor governments, corporations and individual supporters across the globe, in addition to local communities, faith bodies, civil society and public institutions to help refugees.

World Vision addresses barriers to education and works with communities and local governments to improve the quality of education for children.

Who Are its Partners?

The organization works with WFP, World Food Program and USDA in Rwanda to improve children’s literacy.

World Vision also partners with Home Grown School Feeding Program to provide a suite of complementary literacy and health interventions to the school’s feeding project. The literacy intervention guides schools, parents and communities in supporting the development of the five core reading skills: letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

According to World Vision, nearly 1,000 children under age 5 die every day from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation and improper hygiene.

What’s the Organization’s Goal?

The organization’s goal is to solve the global water and sanitation crisis by providing clean water and sanitation to every man, woman and child in every community it works in, including the most vulnerable populations in hard-to-reach places.

World Vision is bringing its World-Class Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programming with their health sector work in an effort called BabyWASH. 

Effective approaches include training volunteer community health workers where these volunteers teach families about critical water, sanitation, and hygiene behaviors, counsel mothers to facilitate hygienic delivery of babies in health care facilities, and learn to identify and treat common childhood diseases while referring more serious cases to a health care facility.

What is the BabyWASH Model?

The BabyWASH model combines three life-saving interventions:

  1. Provides clean water directly into health care facilities along with handwashing stations, toilets and bathing facilities
  2. Trains medical staff and community health workers on prenatal and postnatal healthcare and nutrition, including the importance of breast-feeding immediately after birth
  3. Uses corporate donations to fully equip and supply health facilities with medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and safe delivery kits

There are continual efforts and success stories of lifting people out of poverty thanks to the World Vision staff and volunteers,.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

In Kenya, around 1.6 million citizens are currently living with HIV, with around 910,000 of these being women aged 15 and over. Soteni International, a nonprofit organization based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, works within rural Kenya to fight HIV/AIDS. Executive Director Randie Marsh describes the goals of the organization as “to reduce the incidences of HIV/AIDS in rural Kenya and improve the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS.”

Soteni International was founded in 2002 by a group of both American and African volunteers led by Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin, a physician and epidemiologist. Marsh describes the early mission of the organization as being to “empower orphans of AIDS to lead the fight against AIDS and to prevent another generation from succumbing.”

Villages of Hope

The organization has now developed and works through the “model of Villages of Hope.” This includes doing everything in its power to build up specific communities so that they are sustainable for future HIV/AIDS-free generations. These villages are focused in three main regions in rural Kenya: Mbakalo, Ugunja and Mitunto.

Marsh told The Borgen Project that the organization chose to stay in rural areas because it “felt like there are many organizations working in Nairobi that address the HIV crisis there. These [three regions] are also areas where the communities have given us land to use to further our mission and/or support us in other ways.” Soteni has supported a number of projects in these communities that all work toward the overall betterment of the region.

Community Improvements

In 2009, Soteni worked with other organizations, including the Lake Victoria North Water Services Board, the Gender Sensitive Initiatives organization and the Kenyan Water Services Fund Trust, to bring safe drinking water to Mbakalo. The project included bringing the region 20 hand-pump wells and 20 springwater pipes. The local schools also received 15 three-door latrines and 12 rainwater harvesting tanks. In 2015, the organization also enacted the Improving Access to Family Planning Project in Ujunga to spread sexual health and family planning awareness and provide access to sexual reproductive health services.

Soteni opened a health center in Mbakalo in 2005 and has continued to improve it over the years. The center provides essential medical services through a seven-person staff. 200 to 300 citizens receive treatment here every month that includes antimalarials, antihistamines, antibiotics and some immunizations. The center has no electricity, but in 2008 Soteni installed a solar refrigerator for vaccines and medicines. Plans are currently underway to expand and upgrade the center.

International Cooperation

Soteni International requires leadership and cooperation in both the United States and Kenya to do its work. The organization has members and locations in both Cincinnati and Nairobi and members make trips back and forth annually. Supporters in the U.S. can donate time through volunteer work or make monetary and material donations.

According to Executive Director Marsh, “the heart of our organization are the people on the ground who work to support the mission.”  The organization and its community work are entirely grassroots, built from the ground up by people who saw a problem and wanted to be a part of the solution. Not only does its work better the lives of Kenyan citizens, but it also inspires citizens from the U.S. and around the globe.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr

coffeedCoffeed, a New York City based coffee shop chain, is dedicated to supporting various local charities. Their mission is to become one of the most charitable companies in the world. They aim to serve quality coffee and food at affordable prices, and each location donates between 3-10 percent of their gross revenue to charity.

Coffeed’s CEO and founder, Frank “Turtle” Raffaele, was a stock trader on Wall Street before the 2008 stock market crash. After the crash, he decided to pursue a new path and started Coffeed along with three other former traders. The flagship café opened in 2012 in Long Island City. Currently, there are six Coffeed stores in New York City, and, to take the company international, a seventh café is planned for Seoul. Each location is partnered with a different local nonprofit, such as Community Mainstreaming Associates or the Refugee and Immigrant Fund.

One shop is located in Chelsea at the headquarters of the Foundling organization, a nonprofit that provides foster care and adoption services. Coffeed donates to Foundling in exchange for reduced rent in this busy location. They also dedicate a portion of the café to displaying information about Foundling’s work and issues related to poverty and inequality. Furthermore, they employ some of Foundling’s clients, including developmentally disabled adults and teenaged foster children.

Coffeed’s flagship café partners with Brooklyn Grange, a small farm located on their rooftop. They source most of their produce from this farm and support the City Growers organization, which educates the community about sustainability and agriculture.

Raffaele operates Coffeed on a number of important principles. They serve only Fair Trade coffee and try to keep business local by sourcing high quality ingredients from local vendors and supporting local charities. The cafes are meant to be safe, comfortable spaces for customers where they can enjoy food and coffee at reasonable prices. They work to promote sustainability by engaging in environmental practices such as composting. They regularly refine their coffee roasting and prep procedures. Staff members are carefully selected and work to educate consumers about their products. But the guiding principle for this company is putting charity first.

Raffaele hopes to open 15 to 20 locations in the next five years by connecting with fundraisers and investors. One of his main objectives for Coffeed is to prove that business can be both charitable and profitable. The model has been successful so far and could inspire more businesses to follow suit as the chain goes international.

– Jane Harkness

Sources: Coffeed, Huffington Post, Inc., Small Business Trends, The Times Ledger
Photo: Daily Coffee News


Corporations have a variety of ways to contribute to poverty relief. Methods include matching employee donations, promoting employee volunteerism, providing donations in kind and simply providing grants to or partnering with charitable organizations. Some even partner with governmental institutions such as the United States Agency for International Development in hybrid public/private aid ventures.

Corporations disperse funds to a plethora of good causes, but some have a particular focus on poverty reduction, development and public health initiatives internationally. Among the most generous corporations that support poverty-reduction programs are Chevron, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase and General Electric.

In 2013, Chevron donated $274.3 million, or 0.6% of its pretax profits to charitable organizations. The company has an employee donation matching program that covers up to $10,000 per year and $3,000 for retirees. Being a highly globalized corporation, Chevron sponsors a variety of international development programs, such as the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative Foundation, which provides livelihood training to residents of the Niger Delta. Last year, Chevron pledged an additional $40 million to the program.

Johnson and Johnson donated $966.3 million in 2012 in cash and goods, a full 7% of its profits that year. Johnson and Johnson has a particularly robust corporate philanthropy program, doubling employee donations to eligible nonprofits. They also have a particular focus on global health issues. For example, the company partnered with the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Health Organization to support the U.N.’s Health Four+ Initiative, providing health care and obstetric training to populations in low-resource settings in Tanzania and Ethiopia.

While Microsoft’s philanthropic activities are often associated with the co-founder Bill Gates’ Foundation, the company itself has a very generous donor program that provided $948.6 million worth of in-kind donations and $112.2 million in cash donations in 2014. Microsoft’s corporate philanthropy does not have a particular focus on poverty reduction, however, they provide technology and software to about 86,000 nonprofit organizations globally.

JP Morgan Chase donates to several different kinds of philanthropic causes, contributing $210.9 million in 2013. On top of their donations, the company also provides capital for impact investment funds, supporting a wide variety of international economic development ventures. The company partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create one such project, the Global Health Investment Fund, which invests in the development of medical technologies that target diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, which disproportionately affect the developing world. Another fund that JP Morgan Chase supports is the African Agricultural Capital Fund, which invests in agribusiness in East Africa, targeting small holder farms and rural economies.

General Electric is particularly committed to corporate philanthropy, having been the first company to introduce an employee donation matching program, which now supports up to a generous $50,000 per year. In 2013, the $154.8 million that GE donated went to initiatives such as its Developing Health Globally Program, which sponsors medical training and technological assistance in Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Most large corporations have fairly long-standing traditions of giving back to their communities and supporting international development through corporate philanthropy programs. Corporations typically donate anywhere from 1% to 5% of their annual profits to such programs, sometimes even partnering with government agencies such as the United Stated Agency for International Development. However, it is worth noting that state solutions to poverty reduction continue to have the greatest funding potential. For example, Official Development Assistance in the United States alone amounted to about $30 billion in 2013, or 0.18% of the budget, many billions of dollars more than the top 10 corporate donors combined that year. While corporate donations are essential to the fight against poverty, official state aid could, if properly harnessed, represent the greatest solution to poverty worldwide.

– Derek Marion

Sources: Double the Donation, Chevron, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, GE, OECD
Photo: Ventures

which charitable organization should i donate toBefore you think about participating in a charitable organization, you should do your research. Due to the many charitable organizations that exist within our philanthropic community, some organizations have come to be that do not have charity in mind. In order to understand which organization is beneficial or harmful, it is important to pay attention to the impact of the organization. While numbers on their website may be important, they aren’t everything within the giving equation.

Some organizations have claimed to be nonprofit and have thus exploited a system based on charity. While a contribution may make its way to the intended individual, along the way the amount is decreased for a variety of reasons leaving the final amount received significantly less than the original contribution.

While it is important to realize the many pitfalls of philanthropic donation, it is essential to realize that not all organizations are like this. In some cases, it can mean life or death to those individuals who are on the receiving end of a donation.

For individual giving, it is important to give to a cause that is important to you. While there are many great organizations that help with global hunger like the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and Action Against Hunger, or global poverty like Innovations for Poverty Action, ultimately where your donation goes is up to you.

Before donating to that major philanthropic organization that says they have used the money to provide x, y and z, look deeper into their numbers and statistics and decide if your donation will really be making a difference.

A good place to get started with general philanthropic organizations can be found here.

In addition, it is important to know which organizations to generally avoid here.

– Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Marketplace, The Life You Can Save 1Tampa Bay Times, The Life You Can Save 2The Life You Can Save 3, Love to Know