Ending Extreme Poverty in Africa: Village Enterprise

Image courtesy of Village Enterprise
Image courtesy of Village Enterprise

Village Enterprise is an innovative organization with the goal of ending extreme poverty. In addition to encouraging entrepreneurship, they provide support, education and training, along with micro-grants. Village Enterprise is changing the course of poverty in rural East Africa.

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 me of possibilities - the potential for nourishment, growth, and tenacity in a seemingly impossible landscape.

Last updated September 5, 2016

Village Enterprise - ending extreme poverty in rural Africa

I absolutely love their concept. Village Enterprise recognizes the risks of starting a business, the vulnerability of the poor, and the need for immediate financial relief. Because of this, Village Enterprise supports micro-grants rather than microloans. As a result, those in need have the financial means to purchase medicine and food, send their children to school, and build savings while they're developing their businesses.

Microloans often don't allow enough time for enterprises to develop and flourish before repayment of high interest loans begins.

Baobab tree, by Firkin, openclipart.org
Baobab tree, by Firkin, openclipart.org

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.

Nine months of training is provided along with micro-grants for seed capital. Particularly inspiring is the mentoring part of the program. Skill sets are matched with the types of businesses that are likely to succeed. This takes into account profitability, risk factors, and local market conditions during the planning process.

The Business Saving Group, formed by members, pools savings and loans. Combining resources protects against financial down times and provides growth capital. This allows members to rely upon 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. Poverty affects women the most in East Africa. However, they are the ones most likely to value healthy food, education, and healthcare. Women business owners have a positive impact on their communities because they create a cycle of financial success and social justice.

I 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 these natural resources. All members now participate in sustainability curriculum, which emphasizes conservation of land, forests, and animals.

Image courtesy of Village Enterprise
Image courtesy of Village Enterprise

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. 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 plan on expanding to other regions.

Through their incubator program, members develop, pilot, and test new ideas. As a result, innovation is encouraged. This is not a static program.

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. However, this wouldn't be possible without the financial support and sustaining guidance of Village Enterprise.

Peace and Business featured image, courtesy of Village Enterprise
Peace and Business featured image, courtesy of Village Enterprise

In summary, I'm awestruck. Ponder 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?

Truthfully, I've never wanted to travel so far away from home. But after exploring their website, I want to embrace the people, linger under a Baobab tree, and touch the continent that launched humanity.

Meanwhile, I guess a donation will have to do.

Dreaming of Africa,

Laura

*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.