Economic security, access to information, and job opportunities are foundational for effective poverty reduction. In order to break the cycle of poverty, the world’s most vulnerable communities need support to overcome discrimination, barriers to employment, and cultural assumptions that perpetuate economic inequality.
People in the poorest regions of the world often have limited access to life-saving health goods and information about common ailments that are otherwise simple and cost-effective to treat. Our charities build networks in the world’s poorest regions that bring information, vital goods, and economic opportunity to communities that need help the most.
Development Media International (DMI) empowers the global poor through targeted radio and television campaigns, which raise cultural awareness for life-saving health and wellness issues. Media campaigns are one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives; DMI estimates that their campaigns prevent one in five deaths caused by conditions associated with extreme poverty.
DMI has launched media campaigns in over 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, and currently works in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique. Their outreach spans several focus areas—including nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, malaria prevention, HIV/AIDS, family planning, and child marriage. DMI hires local actors, voice artists, writers, and editors to create informative and engaging campaigns, and works with local stations to ensure that each campaign is broadcast between 500 to 8,000 times.
Living Goods employs and trains local people—the majority of whom are women—to sell goods and life-saving medical supplies at competitive prices. Living Goods provides women with employment and entrepreneurial skills while improving health outcomes in their communities. Not only does this support community health through access to much-needed supplies and advice, but it also provides women a chance to make a living.
Using a micro-franchise model for direct economic empowerment, women sell their goods door-to-door. Franchise owners sell health goods such as anti-malarial bed nets, deworming pills, water filters, kits for safe childbirth, condoms, sanitary supplies, and fortified foods. Each saleswoman provides medical supplies to about 800 of her fellow community members, and takes home between 15 and 20 percent of her sales profits.
GiveDirectly provides unconditional cash transfers using cell phone technology to some of the poorest people in Kenya and Uganda. These direct cash transfers allow families to buy much-needed food and shelter, educate their children, and start small businesses. Studies have demonstrated that cash transfers improve childhood health, encourage educational advancement, and increase family savings rates.
GiveDirectly transfers $1,000 to recipients in installments over one to two years. Families are free to use the money however they see fit, and the majority of cash transfer recipients choose to buy a metal roof for their homes. In 2014, GiveDirectly transferred over $6.6 million to recipient families.
One Acre Fund brings economic opportunity to rural agricultural communities in East Africa by helping small farmers improve harvests and maximize farm profits. In 2014, One Acre Fund’s farmers gained more than $7 million in net farm revenue. Individual farmers typically see an average of 50 to 100 percent increase in farm income per planted acre, and generate an average farm income gain of $135. More than 97 percent of One Acre Fund’s farmers are able to repay their start up loans, and 82 percent of farms that receive initial support become self-sustaining.
Village Enterprise works to end extreme poverty in rural Africa through a simple and cost-effective model of entrepreneurship and innovation that can launch a three-person business for $250 per participant. They have trained over 146,000 East Africans and started over 36,000 businesses, mostly in livestock and agriculture.
Village Enterprise’s one-year Graduation program offers empowerment, opportunity and security to help people escape the poverty trap: they provide groups of three entrepreneurs with seed capital, business and financial literacy training and mentoring. These are then organized into groups of 10 businesses to facilitate access to growth capital, provide a safe place for savings and build social capital. Multiple studies show that this type of program leads to significant increases in household income, and that these benefits persist over a number of years.
The Life You Can Save is a movement of people fighting extreme poverty. We hold that an ethical life involves using some of our wealth and resources to save and improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.
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