ENDING POVERTY in our generation is within reach. This is amazing news for those of us who devote our lives to chasing this dream. Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President states, “This new forecast of poverty falling into the single digits should give us new momentum and help us focus even more clearly on the most effective strategies to end extreme poverty.”
For most of us, trying to comprehend what poverty is like is impossible. Most of us live with pantries full of food – we’ve never experienced prolonged hunger. Clean water is always a few steps away and never in short supply. How far we go in education is a question of intent and motivation – not tough choices on who misses out. Yet, these basic life necessities we take for granted represent major hurdles for 900 million people in the world. 98% of them are in developing countries, and two-thirds of this group live in Asia. MOST of them have as much individual capability as you and I. Unfortunately for them, they were born into a life that creates few options. There’s them……and then there’s us. So, what now?
TOGETHER WE CAN IMPACT THEIR WORLD and help them END THEIR POVERTY. At Captivating, this is not a ‘free gift’. Although welfare has its place, it is not our focus when it comes to our ending poverty strategies. We look at everything on a case-by-case basis believing in the strong notion that impoverished families we come across already know what is holding them back from thriving. Sometimes it’s starting capital, or specific knowledge, or basic infrastructure issues such as access to running water. Remove these barriers, and hard work does the rest. We use the following imagery: We all want our children to climb the ladder of success throughout their lives (however we define success). Our job as parents is to give them the best starting point we can. However, to parents trapped in poverty, they cannot provide this start for their children. In fact, they do not even see the ladder. So, to impact their children (our ultimate focus) we place our attention on these parents – position them as best we can on the ladder. It might be the bottom rung, but at least they’re in the game and, through hard work, can start to progress.
So, how are we doing that? To date, our projects have fallen into the following 4 key areas:
Microloans programs to start or expand family businesses
Talk to any person who is trapped in poverty, and usually they have been dreaming about starting a small business of some kind. There are usually two things holding them back from doing this: (1) lack of funds to buy capital, inventory, or animals to get started; and, (2) a nagging concern that their dream many be just that – a fanciful dream that will fail. Experience also tells us there is a third point many do not even consider and that is (3) a lack of knowledge and experience about how to manage their new business well, including their ability to formulate and stick to a plan and save money for the longer term. It’s on this last point that even the best of business ideas ultimately fail.
Our programs focus on addressing all three of these issues. Programs may range from a small loan being provided to help Mary in Kenya buy raw materials for her to clean and repackage for sale at a profit in the local market; Juma using Captivating loan funds to buy fertilizer to increase his farm yields; or Chen in remote China receiving 5 quality sheep to start his sheep herd. The options are unlimited.
In addition to this we provide all loan recipients with education, expertise and support on their chosen business venture. Mary is taught how to save some of her profits so she does not need to rely on more loans in the future; Juma learns the importance of the latest farming techniques that will further enhance his yields; and, Chen has advice from a local expert on the latest sheep raising techniques.
Why do we do this? Sitting closely behind Mary, Juma and Chen (and the hundreds of other families we will reach this year) are their children – eager, interested, and hopeful that school will continue for them. We all know that education is the key weapon against poverty. Solving the poverty of the family is the most efficient, cost effective, and dignified method of helping parents keep their kids in school. We have multiple programs we hope to roll out this year with your help.
Building locally based capacity to solve their own problems
At Captivating, we love the idea of leverage. We are a small organization that aims to punch well above our weight division. One of the great ways of doing this is to educate and motivate others to take on the ‘End Poverty’ fight. And who better than locally based people, who themselves regularly experience the needs of those around them. Consequently, we support local NGO’s with administrative expenses and expertise (those things that are usually barriers to effective performance in the field); advice on how to build their local support base and impact; and, methods on how to better report their results to keep existing support groups motivated to continue.
In addition to this, we are witnessing the emergence of an incredibly motivated next generation of socially focused youth. With many of them coming from impoverished backgrounds, these scholars want to change the world. In Qinghai, China we run a university level program in conjunction with local universities aimed at equipping motivated students with the skills and knowledge necessary to bring solutions to their home villages that will help them progress.
Remove the barriers preventing access to new opportunities
Sometimes it’s clear that major barriers stand in the way of a village or community progressing. Until these barriers are addressed, poverty and struggle will continue and with it, the risk that children in these villages will not have their chance to shine and progress as far as they are capable in their education.
Barriers exist in many and varied forms – all of them capable of being addressed with adequate planning and financial support: no access to running water; expensive or inconsistent electricity; poor soil conditions and plot sizes giving minimal yields; aged grandparents caring for children becoming incapable of intensive farming, and; no skills or knowledge enabling people to consider new opportunities.
Captivating has a variety of projects aimed at removing some of these barriers in the poorest communities we can find. Check out our project list and consider adopting a project.
Mentoring and skills development programs to help people progress
This past decade has seen incredible growth in Microfinance Institutions (MFI) in many locations. This is a wonderful development and has created another exciting avenue for Captivating to help the poor. But, our experience shows us that without the necessary skills and business disciplines in place, new ideas and businesses have a high risk of failure.
2016 will see the launch of a new series of initiatives aimed at establishing the intellectual capital needed to make progress possible. They will address soft skills such as life skills, guidance and expertise to reduce the risks of new business failure or helping to position a girl to land that better job. In essence, we are holding the hand of the individual or family as they progress through the early stages of their new opportunity. In 2016, Captivating will work with Nepal-based partners to help women step towards independence; post-school age girls will join our ‘My First Job’ program in China aimed at seeing them advance safely into their first job and to middle school dropouts will get a second chance at their dream job. All of these women will be mentored through their journey. It will be tough and demand their full dedication and commitment, but the results will be worth it.
My Business - My Freedom
Empowering Nepali Women through Micro-Loans (A Captivating / 3AN Initiative)
Captivating Foster Family Loans Program
A micro-finance program equipping Kenyan foster families with the financial capacity to care for community orphans.
A greenhouse keeps kids in school, improves health, and sustainably ends poverty.
US$225 helps a family
[a project in partnership with GPA Global]