Over one billion people in our world are still trapped in extreme poverty. Whether at a factory or out in the hot sun as a day laborer, many people put in 12 hour days for a wage of only two or three dollars a day. Subsistence farmers do their best to grow enough food on small plots of marginal land to feed their families but this does not leave them with cash for life’s essentials. If they are hit with an emergency expense they may have to borrow from the money lender in the market, at interest rates of 300%/year or more. The debt that they incur continues to grow at a rate faster than they are able to repay. Not able to afford the costs of sending their children to school, the cycle repeats for another generation.
When ADRA begins to work in a community, they invite villagers to join groups where they can receive training on how they can make much better incomes by starting their own small home business. If needed, they may start by taking classes where they can learn how to read and write. This may be followed up with lessons on accounting and small business management. They may then sign up for workshops where they may learn new skills such as market gardening, food production, basket making, pottery making, carpentry, small engine mechanics, beekeeping or small animal raising. Once they feel confident, they are able to apply for a small low-interest loan to help them get the needed tools to start their own business.
Even after they have launched their new enterprise, they continue to meet once each week with the ADRA group for support and encouragement. Not only do they make payments on their loan, they also start contributing to a savings program for those times of family emergency. No longer are they of the money lenders. No longer are they forced to work for meagre day-labourer rates. Now, the income that they are able to generate goes to themselves rather than some wealthy landowner, or manufacturing corporation. Now, with the extra money that they make, they are able to send their children to school.