Better Coffee Farms Can Help World PovertyCoffee is the world’s second favorite drink, the first being water. In the United States, Americans drink more than 580 million cups of coffee per day. More than three million cups are consumed worldwide. To support the world’s coffee addiction, many developing countries rely on the coffee-growing industry. Most of these coffee growers are small farmers, and the majority live in impoverished conditions. With the popularity of the coffee market, better coffee farms reduce world poverty.

Small farmers produce about 80 percent of the global coffee supply. These farmers, known as smallholders, are defined as, “owning small-based plots of land on which they grow subsistence crops and one or two cash crops relying almost exclusively on family labor.” An estimated 25 million smallholder farmers produce the world’s coffee supply. Unfortunately, they earn less than ten percent per pound of the sale value of their coffee. Combined with the added costs of production, fertilizer, pesticides, workers, etc., this creates an unprofitable business.

Without profit, many coffee farmers have left the industry because they are unable to sustain themselves. Additionally, the past few years have brought drought and an increase in crop diseases such as “coffee rust.” Coffee prices have dropped to a 12 year low this year.

Not only are coffee farmers unable to support themselves and their families, but a number of other challenges have pushed them out of the coffee growing business. Coffee grows best at a high altitude, usually in remote and mountainous areas. This limits access to markets and adds to the cost of transportation and labor. A lack of environmentally sustainable practices along with weak management and poor training have led to the inefficiency of coffee production.

Despite the current situation of coffee production, demand for the drink is increasing. If the current trend continues, there is a predicted shortage by 2050. In order to help small farmers and the coffee business, many companies are turning to fair-trade. However, fair-trade can create problems around business costs and artificially raised sale prices. Fair-trade targets production but does not always reduce poverty.

Other initiatives that focus on coffee farmer operations and management have shown more success. The National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises works to facilitate services for Ugandan coffee farmers while maintaining their ownership of their crops. In Colombia, coffee farms reduce world poverty, as farmers are investing in digital tools to better manage their farms and transactions.

Small coffee farmers have been exploited for their work for too long. Coffee is a popular product, and with better management tools and ownership over their product, small farmers can influence the market to benefit themselves. No longer will the industry be unprofitable with increased management and training. When farmers are able to gain the tools they need for a profitable business, coffee farms reduce world poverty.

– Margarita Orozco
Photo: Flickr

Menstrual Hygiene ManagementPoor menstrual hygiene management can be fatal. In Nepal, the “chaupadi” tradition of Hindus in western Nepal lead to a teenager named Tulasi Shahi being forced to stay in her uncle’s cowshed for days.

Why? Because she was on her period. A snake bit her while she was in the shed, and she died hours later.

Roshani Tiruwa, a 15-year-old girl, died a few months earlier from the “chaupadi” practice when she lit a fire in her hut and suffered from smoke inhalation. 50 percent of women in western Nepal suffer from this tradition.

Period-related shaming is not limited to Nepal. One out of three girls in southeast Asia had no knowledge of menstruation before getting their first period. 48 percent of girls in Iran and 10 percent of girls in India believe that getting your period is some kind of disease.

On top of harmful cultural influences, access to affordable hygienic materials is often very limited. Sometimes women attempt to use mud, leaves, dung or animal skins to control the bleeding.

For these women, periods are more than just embarrassing; they are an economic obstacle. The lack of information and products available to manage menstruation cause girls to miss significant amounts of school, and women to miss out on economic opportunities.

On the bright side, the solution to this problem already exists: pads, tampons, and knowledge that periods are natural and necessary for the survival of the human population. Days for Girls is an organization working to improve the lives of women in Uganda, Ghana and Nepal by improving their experience with menstruation.

The organization provides health education and affordable hygiene kits, which last up to three years. In addition, days for girls provides microbusiness and sewing training to empower women to improve their economic situation as well as their period.

Christine, a woman in Nairobi, attended a two-week Days for Girls training program, which taught her how to sew, spread health information and make and sell menstrual hygiene kits in her community. Christine now owns three hygiene kit enterprises and believes the program changed her life.

The world is beginning to understand that menstrual hygiene management is an important international problem. More organizations have been formed to tackle the issue, and major development groups are beginning to recognize the gravity of this problem.

Many women in the world are shamed and hindered from achievement because of a normal, crucial body function. The movement to promote menstrual hygiene management is an important step towards gender equality worldwide.

Kristen Nixon

Photo: Flickr

When thinking about helping the world’s poor, your first thought might not involve corporations, investment firms and business analysts. The employees of Investec Asset Management are not just business people—they believe they have a responsibility to society as a whole.

Investec Asset Management kicked off in South Africa in 1991, where the small start-up quickly expanded to an international business, delivering investment products and services to institutions, advisory clients and individuals all over the world. It manages up to $117 billion for its global clients. It currently employs around 6,000 people and considers its headquarters in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland. It also has banking operations in Switzerland, Mauritius, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Jersey, Namibia, Botswana, Canada, Taiwan and the United States. Needless to say, Investec Asset Management is making its mark on a lot of places.

“As long-term asset managers, we are deeply aware of our broader responsibility to society,” states the website. “We seek to make a positive impact by focusing on initiatives that support local communities and their environments, thereby contributing to the success of future generations.” One recent example of an initiative is its partnership with the sports and education charity, which helps children in the city of Kayamandi.

It’s also partnered with a project called “ProMaths,” which helps children in more disadvantaged regions of South Africa improve their math and science skills. This initiative has proved to be such a success that it was awarded the Mail & Guardian Investing In The Future STEM award. Another initiative is the “Tusk Conservation Awards.” In partnership with Tusk Trust, the awards celebrate those who have worked hard to conserve animals and their environment.

Investec Asset Management believes that we are a global market and must be more aware of global opportunities. It is working with 1,100 charities to help improve the world’s weaknesses.

– Melissa Binns

Sources: Investec Asset Management, Mail & Guardian
Photo: Flickr

Navigating the world of the government can be a complicated and scary venture. But with a good idea and an understanding of what is expected, it does not have to be so bad. The dream of starting your own non-profit can become a reality by following these steps and tips.

A non-profit organization is defined as an organization that operates without taking a profit, meaning that any money received is not distributed to its directors, members, or officers. These can take the form of schools, churches, libraries, charities, foundations, hospitals, volunteer groups and even a few government agencies. These organizations are exempt from paying national taxes and may be from paying state taxes as well, depending on the base location of the non-profit. The Borgen Project, a national campaign to end extreme global poverty, falls under this designation. So do World Food Program USA and Charity:Water.

First, it is imperative to have a good idea to fill a need that is currently not being met. There are thousands of groups out there working to end poverty, save the environment, advocate for human rights, and end poverty. That does not mean that another organization cannot be created, it simply means that some creativity should be applied. Maybe this new organization funds inventions or works in less commonly assisted countries. It is all about taking a cause and a passion and combining them to make a difference in the world.

After an idea has been filled out and expounded upon, it is necessary to start doing some research on what requirements must be met to officially become a non-profit and become exempt from federal taxes. Several forms are necessary, including the SS-4 to receive an Employer identification Number for the IRS, banks, and others, and the 1023 to become officially recognized as a non-profit and therefore not taxed as a normal for-profit business would be. There are numerous codes, procedures, and rules that must be adhered to in order to avoid revocation of official standing. But our federal government is not the only one with special requirements; all of the states do as well.

Each state has different requirements that must be met and procedures that must be followed. Generally, though, registration of intended name must take place first thing. After that some sort of Articles of Incorporation must be submitted. These may need extra information, multiple submissions, or even publication in newspapers. For instance, the only submission needed is that of a certificate of a nonstock corporation in Connecticut and the Director must register with the state Attorney General. But in Washington, one needs two copies of the Articles of Incorporation and the Director must register with the Secretary of State. The differences may seem small and inconsequential, yet failure to comply will result in a rejected application.

Once all the research on what is necessary on the national and local levels has been completed and paperwork is underway, funding must be taken into account. Aside from the initial setup fees to the federal and state governments, money is needed for general operations, like renting a building and travel expenses. If the organization is charitable, money is obviously needed to fund various projects and to make the necessary donations. Clint Borgen started the Borgen Project on his laptop while and made money for his dream by living on a fishing boat in Alaska. Now the non-profit takes part in constant fundraising and takes on corporate sponsors to fund their existence. It is all about doing the homework and having the patience to understand that raising the money for start-up, as well as to stay running and meet goals, will take a lot of hard work as well as time.

When all the paperwork is done, the money has been secured, staff has been acquired, and the start-up is through the initial processes the work of getting the name out there can begin.

  • Utilize the Internet and social media like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Start a blog and update it regularly to build an interested audience.
  • Contact local news sources about goals that have been met or upcoming events.
  • Participate in an already established event.
  • Get in contact with other similar non-profits and try to start a good working relationship with them.

And the list continues indefinitely. Most importantly is to continue to work and stay optimistic even when it seems like the whole thing is taking entirely too long.

Chelsea Evans

Sources: Council of Non-Profits, Hurwitt and Associates, Borgen Project, Cornell University

Health workers have strong influences in people’s lives. It is important that they be informed and efficient, which is why IntraHealth International runs three programs designed to improve the work done by health workers around the world. IntraHealth recognizes that supplies and advocacy are great, but trained professionals take it to the next level.

Their three programs are Championing the Health Worker, Health Workforce and Systems Strengthening and Health Worker Training and Performance. While each of these programs does good in itself, they work together to achieve higher standards in health care that a single program could not reach alone.

Fully aware of the shortage of health workers in developing areas, IntraHealth strives to  engage more people in global health professions. This benefits future generations, but what about people who need help now? IntraHealth deploys trained health workers in the regions they are needed most first. In instances of child birth, the presence of trained medical workers can mean life or death for the mother and infant.

Although trained medical workers are essential to the success of this operation, effective management systems are also necessary. Human resources and management skills, like medicine, can be taught to large populations and provide them greater opportunity to help their community thrive.

IntraHealth helps existing organizations improve their policies and planning to better serve both patients and health workers, strengthen human resource information systems for better decision-making, promoting practices to increase the longevity of health workers and improving overall productivity. The HRH Global Resource Center also helps spread information on human resources specifically for the health workforce.

A prime example of the three programs working together can be seen in Uganda. The country saw an almost 7,000 person increase in the health workforce between October 2012 and April 2013 thanks to IntraHealth’s combined effort with the Ugandan government. Because of this increase in knowledgeable staff, the government allocated 49.5 billion shillings (around US $20 million) to continue growth of the health workforce. This was only the beginning. After the increase in health workers, it was necessary to decide the most effective placements for each worker. With the Uganda Capacity Program, a system that sorts through applications to find the best fit, efficient placement saved the government millions of shillings and created clinics more able to serve their communities. The health workers trained by IntraHealth in human resources practices were also able to continue improvement of operations. Uganda has a history of insufficient numbers of health workers. Only 58 percent of needed positions were filled in Mbale, but by 2013, the number jumped to 70%. With recent clever advertising, over 35,000 applications were sent in for consideration.

– Jordan Bradley
Sources: Global Health Knowledge
Photo: Flikr