Scientists predict fish such as tilapia will become extinct in 30 to 40 years due to non-sustainable fishing methods. Because of this, marine stock is over-exploited by 80 percent. Tilapiana, an organization dedicated to ending poverty in fishing communities, works to provide these communities funds, resources and training to maintain the fishing industry.

Billions of people living in developing communities rely on fishing for their livelihood and sustenance. With the challenges associated with the fishing industry, fish farmers face many difficulties that either prevent them from fishing or destroys their farm altogether. Fish is the primary source of protein in many developing communities based in coastal regions, and the availability of fish has decreased in recent years due to negative effects on the environment, causing poverty to increase.

Tilapiana, which is based out of Utah, was started in 2010 by Justin King and Andrew Stewart, with the goal of providing resources to those living at the base of the pyramid-those who live with the least financial, environmental and social sustainability. Tiapiana uses business models to help fish farms make up for the lack of sustainability with their position in the fishing industry. They have created the Tilapiana Fish Farm, which trains and empowers entrepreneurs to sustain their business and help bridge the nutritional gap many face.

Tilapiana Fish Farms follow a traditional franchise model. They provide fish farmers with the tools, supplies and resources needed to successfully run a fish farm. This initiative, Profit in a Pond, has successfully helped many farmers escape poverty, transcend the fishing industry and provide a healthy life for them and their families.

King and Stewart base their efforts in communities in Africa, primarily in Ghana. After graduating from Brigham Young University with an MBA in social environment, King decided to apply his degree to helping end poverty around the world, concluding the best way to do so was to help alleviate fish farmers in developing communities.

Recently, the organization was rated by Matador Network as one of the top 50 nonprofit organizations making a difference. In an interview with The Digital Universe, the founders of Tilapiana spoke about the startup of the company, saying it took several months of meeting with business leaders, being trained by fish farmers in effective fishing techniques and building relationships with citizens in Ghana.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: BYU, Tilapiana, Deseret News
Photo: Flickr