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Giving the most vulnerable a chance at economic security.
Ultra-poverty is an inability to meet even the barest of basic needs. One effective model to fight extreme poverty was developed over a decade ago by Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC).1 Its holistic approach provides the poor with physical assets (such as livestock or a loom necessary to start a small business); support (through weekly coaching visits, money, or food to prevent the selling of the asset); and networks to help with decision-making. Participants eventually "graduate" the program and become economically stable. This graduation model has since been adapted in some 20 countries. Here we profile one such program in Haiti.
Haitian women in extreme poverty live on less than $1 per day, often have multiple children, no assets, and suffer from persistent hunger. Fonkoze's1 Chemen Lavi Miyo (CLM) case managers work with women with no financial means for 18 months to help them build skills and greater confidence. Chemen Lavi Miyò, which translates to "Pathway to a Better Life," provides each member with the materials to construct a 9x9 meter home with a sturdy roof and a latrine; a water filter; and her choice of two activities to begin earning an income, including raising various types of livestock or merchandise to sell.
Since 2006, CLM has empowered nearly 5,000 ultra-poor women; 96% of participants successfully "graduated" the program, allowing for a modest but significant change for themselves and their families. Recent randomized controlled studies of this graduation approach following more than 20,000 people in seven countries found improvements in key indicators such as food security, assets, and income that lasted after the program ended.
In Haiti, the cost is an estimated $1,700 to move a woman from ultra-poverty to increased economic security. A 2015 cost-benefit analysis by researchers found that the estimated benefits exceeded the program costs in a majority of the countries where the graduation model was examined. In most sites, additional earnings made by participating families were greater than the cost of the program. You can make a one-time or recurring donation in any amount on Fonkoze's website.
You can fund Fonkoze, BRAC in Bangladesh, or similar groups such as BOMA Project in Kenya or Trickle Up in India. Or go to the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor's information-rich web site, blog, and community of practice for additional countries and sites.
Look for organizations that go beyond financial capital to help clients build their skills, networks, and assets, which are as important as income. Productive assets, like farm tools, goats, or weaving looms, increase people's ability to generate an income. Non-productive assets like housing help reduce risks and improve clients' ability to recover from economic crises.
Since 2006, CLM has empowered nearly 5,000 ultra-poor women; 96% of participants successfully "graduated" the program.
This article was excerpted from the Center for High Impact Philanthropy's "2016 Giving Guide," sponsored in part by Fidelity Charitable's Trustees' Philanthropy Fund. The guide features specific high-impact giving opportunities, handpicked by the center and analyzed for evidence of impact and cost-effectiveness, as well as more ways to improve the effectiveness of your giving.
The Center for High Impact Philanthropy is a multidisciplinary, nonprofit center housed at the University of Pennsylvania. The center provides actionable and evidence-based guidance for individuals who want to ensure that their philanthropy makes the greatest possible difference in the lives of others.Download the full report
Please note that this article does not represent all the organizations that address poverty issues. Fidelity Charitable does not endorse these organizations and provides this list for reference purposes only. All grant recommendations are subject to review and approval by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees.
1 This international charity has an affiliated U.S.-based 501(c)(3) public charity that may be able to receive donor-recommended grants from a Fidelity Charitable Giving Account.
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