Livelihoods and Economic Empowerment

The World Bank estimates there are 896 million people in developing countries who live on less than $2 a day.

While the number of people in extreme poverty has dropped over the last 20 years, there are still hundreds of millions trapped in the devastating cycle.

Working with our network of partners, we empower poor communities to build their own sustainable livelihoods and break the poverty cycle.

Women contribute the most to growing the economy. Women are also the ones who spend increased household income on the whole family, especially children. That’s why we target women in poor communities by helping them to start businesses and become local leaders. Find out more about our gender work

Africa

We help farmers in Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe to produce more food and access profitable markets. For example, in Zimbabwe, we help farmers grow potatoes, and link them with local and district markets. Potatoes have become so popular that farmers can’t keep up with consumer demand. Farmers have reported earning 30 times their previous income so they can improve their standard of living, send their kids to school, and pay for health care.

Read more about our work in Africa

Asia

Our micro-finance projects in Vietnam and Cambodia offer small loans to those looking to start their own business. We offer training in a chosen livelihood, such as broom-making, farming or hairdressing, in addition to the initial capital needed to get the business up and running.

We also support savings groups, so members can pool their resources and help each other meet any loan repayments. In Vietnam, these groups have used their savings to upgrade their homes, expand their businesses, and send their children to school.

In Myanmar, we’ve helped hundreds of poor and marginalised women to improve their financial security. Working with Credit Union Federation Australia (CUFA), we set up three women-focused village cooperatives that serve as banks. Savings can either act as a safety net in difficult times, or go towards new business ventures.

In Cambodia, we partner with the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC) to help women learn vocational skills. Our Women in Action (WIN) program targets women at risk of domestic violence. WIN helps them gain financial independence, and empowers them to leave abusive situations. Through savings groups, women have increased their income by 30 per cent. We also target girls from underprivileged families to attend vocational training or access scholarships to strengthen their future work prospects.

In Vietnam, our Community-based Tourism (CBT) project helps ethnic minority groups in Da Bac and Xuan Son to improve their income by offering services such as homestays, cultural performances, and guided tours. All benefits from tourism stay in the community and are distributed equally. In 2017, communities welcomed over 2,000 visitors. This contributed $55,000 to the local economy and over $8,000 to the community fund, which goes towards local infrastructure such as roads and sanitation.

Read more about our work in Asia

Stories from the field

Read stories from our livelihood projects