Ending Extreme Poverty in Africa: Village Enterprise
Village Enterprise is an innovative organization that aims to end extreme poverty in Africa. Unlike many other charitable groups, they encourage entrepreneurship while providing support, education and training, along with micro-grants. In a word, Village Enterprise is changing the course of poverty in rural East Africa through the development of member-owned businesses.
Join me as I venture miles to this ancient continent, home to the African Baobab tree. Also known as the tree of life, the Baobab reminds us of possibilities: the potential for nourishment, growth, and tenacity in a seemingly impossible landscape.
Last updated July 25, 2017
Village Enterprise - ending extreme poverty in rural Africa
Village Enterprise recognizes the risks of starting a business, the vulnerability of the poor and the need for immediate financial relief. Because of this, they support micro-grants rather than microloans, which gives members the financial means to purchase medicine and food, send their children to school and build savings while developing their businesses.
Microloans often don't allow enough time for enterprises to develop and flourish before repayment of high interest loans begins.
How the program works
The program targets the poorest of the poor, those living on $1.25 per day or less, in remote areas of Uganda and Kenya. Most noteworthy is that these areas are out of the geographical range of most relief groups.
Village Enterprise provides nine months of training along with micro-grants for seed capital. But particularly inspiring is the mentoring part of the program, which matches skill sets with the types of businesses that are likely to succeed. In this way, participants learn to consider profitability, risk factors and local market conditions during their planning process.
In addition to the mentoring program, though, the Business Saving Group, formed by members, pools savings and loans. Combining resources in this way protects against financial down times and provides growth capital. This permits members to rely on each other rather than outside help.
Farming, tailoring, small retail stores and restaurants, beekeeping and livestock management are examples of the types of business started and developed through Village Enterprise.
Women as business owners and sustainability emphasis
Eighty percent of the business owners are women. And it's important to note that poverty affects women the most in East Africa, even though they are most likely to value healthy food, education and healthcare. As a result, women business owners have a positive impact on their communities because they create a cycle of financial success and social justice.
But I also appreciate the emphasis on sustainability. What would be the point of ending extreme poverty, only to destroy the land and forests? The future, economically speaking, depends upon continued viability of these natural resources. Because of this, all members participate in sustainability curriculum, which emphasizes conservation of land, forests and animals.
A successful, innovative program moving forward
1.44 billion people on our planet fall into the extreme poverty category, living on less than $1.25 per day. Most noteworthy, 415 million of those live in Africa.
That's more than the combined populations of the US and Canada. Yet, Village Enterprise has improved the lives of 700,000 men, women, and children in East Africa, and they plan to to improve the lives of an additional 700,000 in the next five years. Furthermore, they hope to expand into other regions, too.
As you might have guessed, this is not a static organization. For example, through their incubator program, members develop, pilot and test new ideas. By doing so, Village Enterprise fosters innovation.
Take a look
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. My hope is that you'll visit their website to gaze upon the faces of opportunity and hope. This wouldn't be possible, however, without the financial support and sustaining guidance of Village Enterprise.
In summary, I'm in awe of Village Enterprise. Just imagine the possibilities: How would ending extreme poverty affect the future of millions of people? In addition, how would this improve the world's political and social climate?
To be honest, I've always felt hesitant about traveling to countries and places so far away from my home. But after exploring the Village Enterprise website, I want to embrace the people in the photographs, linger under a Baobab tree and touch the continent that launched humanity.
Meanwhile, I guess a donation will have to do.
Dreaming of Africa,
*For more information about Baobab trees, I found this website containing facts and gorgeous images.
*I'm not affiliated in any way with Village Enterprise.
*I obtained all information from the Village Enterprise website. All images are courtesy of Village Enterprise.