Business as Good News to the Poor

by Rachel Rose Nelson

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Affirmations 9 and 10 of the Wealth Creation Manifesto addresses the power of business to lift people out of poverty and fight injustice:

9. Wealth creation through business has proven power to lift people and nations out of poverty.
10. Wealth creation must always be pursued with justice and a concern for the poor, and should be sensitive to each unique cultural context.

Taken as a whole, the Wealth Creation Manifesto builds a sort of theology of business. It starts where every good theology must – in the identity of God, rooting the reader in the wealth creator’s role model – no less than the Creator of Heaven and Earth. It continues through affirmations of wealth creation as a holy calling, a provocative claim to many church and business leaders alike. But those willing to suspend disbelief at claims of holiness soon reach Affirmations 9 and 10 which tread on nothing less than the holy ground of Jesus’ own announcement of his ministry, words he drew directly from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Luke 4:18-19

Jesus defined his ministry by its benefit to the poor. The people of Nazareth were moved at first but quickly turned against him. Many explain the drastic shift occurred as the crowd realized the man they knew since childhood was essentially claiming to be Messiah. But it’s worth noting that it was directly after Jesus denied big blessings for his own people that they moved to throw him off a cliff.

Wealth Creators on the Sidelines?

Are we so very different? How do we in the church receive these two Affirmations? Too often we love wealth creators when we think the blessings from their benevolence are headed our way, funding church programs, global missions, and charity to the poor, etc.. However, many harbor suspicions about what good can possibly be accomplished for God’s Kingdom by the businesses themselves.

And how do we in business receive the prophetic summons to bless the poor and vulnerable when stewarding our gifts? Most faith-driven entrepreneurs are certainly willing to give out of the overflow of their business, but never ask God how to use their business model to model Christ, making Him manifest in the places and for the people who need Him most.

Now more than ever we cannot afford for faith-driven wealth creators to be sidelined in the work of reaching the poor and setting captives free. Studies predict the economic impact from COVID-19 could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people. This will be the first time that poverty has increased globally in thirty years, with people struggling to fulfill the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water, sanitation, and other essentials. [1]

Fighting the Injustice of Modern Slavery and Poverty

And modern slavery, linked as it is to poverty, is predicted to rise rapidly amid the economic vulnerability created by the global pandemic. The International Labor Organization recently reported millions of men, women and children will fall prey to human traffickers promising work and decent jobs. [2]

Pause here. As wealth creators we can become numb to the overwhelming needs of the world. Statistics like those above remain just numbers, without the power to move us from our positions of relative comfort. This is and always has been the curse of kings. We know from Scripture it took prophets willing to face death to move the hearts of kings, who had often grown calloused, ultimately building their own kingdoms alongside or sometimes even rather than God’s. We judge their blindness but many times miss our own.

What is God calling wealth creators to bring to earth as it is in heaven? What is good news to the poor? Many say charity. But if you ask the poor, what most want is a good job. [3]

According to the United Nations and many others engaged in global poverty reduction efforts, job creation has been and continues to be essential. [4]  It is clear: bringing good news to the poor means bringing a job, but not just any job. After all, even those being trafficked and exploited are employed. As faith-driven entrepreneurs we should aim at nothing less than providing jobs that carry out the ministry Christ first proclaimed, making Him manifest for those held captive in the clutches of poverty. That kind of job turns good news into the Gospel.

Blessing the Poor and Captive, Through Business

Andy Crouch, Praxis Partner for Theology & Culture asks, “What would it look like if Christians were committed to living redemptively – actively moving into systems that are bywords for corruption and caveat emptor, and changing the whole game?”[5]  I have seen firsthand what that looks like. In my role as Executive Director of Freedom Business Alliance I have witnessed a global network of leaders building businesses to provide dignified jobs for survivors of human trafficking. It is a mission that requires daily sacrifice on behalf of leaders who could very easily find more success walking down almost any other professional avenue. Yet these leaders remain. They labor daily to build Christ-like communities of support and development only possible in places of employment, but so rarely found in the regions in which they operate. Together they are reimagining business at the intersection of the Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission.

The regions in which they operate are predominantly developing economies, where extreme poverty and modern slavery are all too prevalent and decent jobs scarce. These are places faith-driven wealth creators are desperately needed. But as Affirmation 10 of our Manifesto maintains, when we go into all the world, we must enter with sensitivity so as not to repeat the sins of the past. We bring some important resources but certainly not all. We bring some answers but must first seek understanding. And we bring Christ in us, but must never fall victim to the lie that He has not already been there moving, working in the hearts of the people, and perhaps most importantly, raising up leaders from whom we ourselves must learn. For as Randy Woodley, Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture at Portland Seminary, outlines in his Missiological Imperatives, “God expects two conversions out of every encounter, our conversion to the truth in their culture, and their conversion to the truth we bring to the encounter.” [6]

As wealth creators we are in many ways the kings of our day, with power which comes from the Lord. But at the risk of being thrown off a cliff, I submit that this power is not granted solely to bless the wealth creator or even the church, but the poor and captive. And this blessing should not come through charity alone but through a reimagined engagement in the art of business patterned after nothing less than the ministry of Jesus.

 

ENDNOTES

[1] Sumner, A., Hoy, C. & Ortiz-Juarez, E. (2020) Estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty. WIDER Working Paper 2020/43. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER.

[2] International Labour Organisation (ILO), Covid-19 Impact on Child Labour and Forced Labour, www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—ipec/documents/publication/wcms_745287.pdf

[3] Clifton, J. (2011). The coming jobs war : What every leader must know about the future of job creation. New York, NY: Gallup Press.

[4] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Poverty. (n.d.). Employment and Decent Work | Poverty Eradication. United Nations. Retrieved September 3, 2020, from https://www.un.org/development/desa/socialperspectiveondevelopment/issues/employment-and-decent-work.html

[5] Crouch, Andy. “Why Ethical Work is Not Enough. Medium: The Praxis Journal, 3 Sep. 2020, https://journal.praxislabs.org/why-ethical-work-is-not-enough-1d4a42296fc5.

[6] Woodley, Randy, “Mission and the Cultural Other: In Search of the Pre-colonial Jesus” (2015). Faculty Publications – George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Paper 50. http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/gfes/50

More in this series:

Wealth Creation Manifesto: Affirming the Role of Business People in God’s Plan for the World
Shaping Our Views on Wealth, Wealth Creation and Wealth Creators
Creating Wealth for God’s Glory and the Common Good
Business Is a Holy Calling That Should Be Affirmed by the Church
Alleviating Poverty by Creating Businesses and Sharing Wealth
Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God

Rachel Rose Nelson serves as Executive Director of Freedom Business Alliance, the only global network creating business solutions to human trafficking. FBA has 100+ member businesses across 28+ countries. They are on a mission to scale the Freedom Business movement in order to create 100,000 jobs for survivors of human trafficking and those at risk of being trafficked. Prior to her role at FBA, Rachel was an entrepreneur and business consultant in the areas of leadership and brand strategy. She holds a Bachelors in Graphic Communication and a Masters in Ministry Leadership. She and her family live just outside Portland, Oregon.

 

 

 

Watch the Wealth Creation Classroom Series

The Lausanne Global Classroom on Wealth Creation is a series of short 2-5 minute videos based on the work of the Wealth Creation Consultation

More Resources

Download: PDF of the Wealth Creation Manifesto

Read: Wealth Creation Manifesto with Bible References

Read: Calling the Church to affirm Wealth Creators

Download: Wealth Creation Papers:

Click on image to open BAM Global Reports page

 

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

 

Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God

by Rod St Hill

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Even the simplest one-person or family businesses as most are, especially in poorer countries, unleash the creative capacity in the human person, bringing together various inputs and transforming them into products that contribute positively to human flourishing. Not only do the products contribute to human flourishing, but the processes associated with business create opportunities for the realisation of human dignity.

The purpose of this blog is to reflect and comment upon the seventh and eighth affirmations of the Wealth Creation Manifesto:

7. The purpose of wealth creation through business goes beyond giving generously, although that is to be commended; good business has intrinsic value as a means of material provision and can be an agent of positive transformation in society.
8. Business has a special capacity to create financial wealth, but also has the potential to create different kinds of wealth for many stakeholders, including social, intellectual, physical and spiritual wealth.

I studied economic development at university over 40 years ago. I still recall reading Dudley Seers on ‘The Meaning of Development’. [1] He conceptualised development in terms of ‘realisation of the potential of human personality’. For this, he argued there were a number of necessary conditions, namely:

  • Basic needs – food, clothing, footwear, shelter – must be met
  • A job – defined broadly to include paid and unpaid work like studying, working on the family farm and housekeeping – to satisfy the need for self-respect
  • Other conditions such as good education, freedom of speech, and citizenship of a nation that is truly independent

In the first decade of my academic career I taught development economics. My students were certainly made aware of Seers’ concept. I also introduced my students to Amartya Sen’s work. He rejected the idea of ‘development’ and focused on freedom as the ultimate goal of economic life as well as the most efficient means of realising general welfare. According to Sen, overcoming deprivations (‘unfreedoms’) is central to development. These include hunger, ignorance, an unsustainable economic life, unemployment, barriers to economic fulfilment by women or minorities, premature death, violation of political freedom and basic liberty, threats to environmental sustainability, and poor access to health, sanitation, or safe water. [2]   Read more

Alleviating Poverty by Creating Businesses and Sharing Wealth

by Francis Tsui

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Affirmations 5 and 6 of the Wealth Creation Manifesto addresses the contrast between wealth creating and wealth sharing, and the power of wealth to alleviate poverty:

5. Wealth hoarding is wrong, and wealth sharing should be encouraged, but there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created.
6. There is a universal call to generosity, and contentment is a virtue, but material simplicity is a personal choice, and involuntary poverty should be alleviated.

In a January 2020 report, Oxfam International revealed that the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population. It further pointed out that the 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa.

The Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging the world’s economy and millions of people have lost their jobs, while millions more are living precariously. Since the beginning of the pandemic, billionaires in the U.S., such as Jeff Bezos (of Amazon), Steve Ballmer (former CEO of Microsoft) and Elon Musk (Tesla & SpaceX) and a few of their peers, have together increased their total net worth $637 billion so far. This is a classic case of the few rich ones got richer, while the millions sink to the bottom of the heap. Even some of those who used to be part of the middle class in many countries find themselves caught in the downward spiral. This wealth polarization happens in spite of the pandemic. Yet, the pandemic has just exacerbated the situation through economic shutdowns and restrictions, as well as uneven government economic aid to different industries. Ethical wealth creation should go hand in hand with fairness in wealth distribution.

Minding the Gap

Those who operate in the free market system show the efficacy and potency of their power in wealth creation and accumulation, especially those who manage to harness the power of technological advancement to increase productivity and efficiency. However, the increasing wealth disparity in the world has signaled something is seriously wrong. Wealth hoarding is definitely wrong, and wealth sharing needs to be encouraged. The Executive Director of Americans for Tax Fairness Frank Clemente once said, “The orgy of wealth shows how fundamentally flawed our economic system is.” Wealth creation without effective wealth distribution is fundamentally defective and unethical. When more people are sinking into financial oblivion, the result is the demeaning of humanity, and the robbing of human dignity.

As the gap between the haves and the have-nots widens, and increasing number of the world’s population are sinking into poverty, the call for generosity is getting louder. Every year, charities are looking for more support and more donation. Unfortunately, many charities have hit a major road block as the pandemic lingers on.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals reports that more than half of charitable organizations in the United States are expecting to raise less funds in 2020 than they did in 2019. Further, many believe that the same will occur in 2021. The picture is very disturbing. While the need for more generosity is required, the reality many charities confront is that funds are drying up. Many who are already living in poverty and hunger remain there, and there seems to have no light at the end of the tunnel.

Created to Create

Wealth creation and poverty alleviation should go hand in hand in our Christian witness. While ordinary Christians may not be in a position to alter the balance of wealth distribution on a global scale, and may not be in the capacity to bring about policy change for secondary distribution on government level, there are plenty of opportunities for us to be an active participant in both wealth creation and poverty alleviation ministry.

Our God is a creative, entrepreneurial, enterprising God as seen through His Creation. He is also a God of abundance and provision. Wealth creation is consistent to the character of God. Likewise, poverty alleviation is also a key attribute of God as on numerous occasions in the Bible He came through for the poor, the widowed, and those who was abandoned by their community.

We need people who share the compassionate heart of God and who are gifted in creating wealth through their entrepreneurial ventures and investment skills to be enlisted in the harvest fields to bring about job opportunities and sustainable economic growth to create wealth for communities and individuals.

Godly and ethical business practice lives out the Christian witness among the peers. Jobs bring livelihood and dignity to individuals. Economic well-being builds community. The Incarnate Jesus is present when the Good News prevails in the local community and people would have the foretaste and a glimpse of Kingdom on earth. The transformative power of the Gospel is alive and vibrant in the local community.

The Book of Ecclesiastes states, “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (8:15) Further, in the Proverbs, it also reminds us that “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor” (22:9) and that “the righteous give without sparing.” (21:26)

A Business Story

About 10 years ago, a successful Laotian Canadian Christian banker quit his job and went back to his birthplace, a place he had fled from as a child, along with his family, running away from war and poverty. He took out a long lease with the Laotian government on a plot of land at the Bolaven Plateau and started a coffee farm there. Bolaven Farms’ mission is to redeem the soil and nurture sustainable ecosystems promoting healthy and productive agrarian community developments.

At Bolaven Farms, in their own words, they “believe in sowing the seeds of hope.” By training resident farmers their Integrated Organic System free of charge and making credit available to qualifying graduates, farmers are empowered to break the cycle of poverty, one family at a time. Many of the skilled technicians they are bringing in for the technology transfer are followers of Christ. What they are bringing into this creative access country are their faithful witness in addition to the technical skills. They are convinced that what the poor need is not aid, but jobs – real jobs, not subsidized ones. This is the dignity and self-reliance we are equally created for. The Bolaven Farm resident farmers become proud land owners with productive family farms. Over the years, on the Bolaven Plateau, families are blessed with improved livelihood, and the community transforms, holistically.

Wealth creation could definitely be an instrument of grace and a vehicle to bring forth blessings and giftedness. Increasingly both in overseas mission fields as well as in local communities, BAM businesses such as Bolaven Farm are making an impact in places historically insulated from Christian encounters, earning respect and able to be a witness for Christ. When wealth creation and poverty alleviation go in tandem, they claim more territories for the Kingdom.

As wealth is created, believers may choose to live in abundance or in the virtue of contentment or even material simplicity with no coercion, but simply as a personal lifestyle choice. One way or the other, our God is the God of abundance and grace, ready to bless and happy to invite His good and faithful servants into sharing His joy.

More in this series:

Wealth Creation Manifesto: Affirming the Role of Business People in God’s Plan for the World
Shaping Our Views on Wealth, Wealth Creation and Wealth Creators
Creating Wealth for God’s Glory and the Common Good
Business Is a Holy Calling That Should Be Affirmed by the Church

Francis K. Tsui is from Hong Kong and has been active in Asian mission in the last two decades serving as faculty, mentor, and Board member with Asian Access and AsiaCMS. He holds multiple higher degrees in modern Chinese history, business administration, as well as mission and leadership studies. Currently, he is working on a DMin at Fuller Seminary.

 

Watch the Wealth Creation Classroom Series

The Lausanne Global Classroom on Wealth Creation is a series of short 2-5 minute videos based on the work of the Wealth Creation Consultation

More Resources

Download: PDF of the Wealth Creation Manifesto

Read: Wealth Creation Manifesto with Bible References

Read: Calling the Church to affirm Wealth Creators

Download: Wealth Creation Papers:

Click on image to open BAM Global Reports page

 

 

Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

 

 

How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good

by Doug Seebeck

The Business as Mission movement has made remarkable advances over the past 20 years. It is a powerful movement that affirms God’s call to business and the central role of business in missions and insists that business is critical to the redemptive work of God in the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

While there is much to celebrate, now is the time for a rallying cry for what can and must be done in the 20 years ahead of us. Indeed, the health of our planet, the flourishing of our neighbors, and the integrity of the Gospel itself depend upon our concerted focus and action. And that focus is the end of extreme global poverty as we know it today. To this end, we need the Business as Mission movement to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid who are scraping by on less than $2 per day.

Our vision at Partners Worldwide is to see the end of poverty so that all may have life, and have it abundantly. This is a grand, audacious goal we know we can’t accomplish alone. And yet, for the first time in human history, the number of our fellow human beings who face extreme poverty has fallen to under 10 percent. The latest figures from World Bank suggest the extreme poverty rate fell to 8.6 percent last year—a rapid decrease from 36 percent in 1990. It is truly amazing!  Read more

Practicing Jubilee Through Entrepreneurship

by Stu Minshew

Last week, I shared how Michael Rhodes and Robby Holt’s new book, Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give, challenges readers to consider ways to provide employment opportunities for those on the margins of society. Throughout the world, we are surrounded by those in need. Many individuals, and even entire groups of people, live on the margins of our society, including racial or ethnic minorities, low-income communities, single moms, the elderly, and those who have served time in jail.

As Christians in business, we are called to provide opportunities for those on the margins to build equity and take part in Christ’s abundant provision for His people.

My last post discussed shifting from a soup kitchen mentality to a potluck mentality, equipping us to more effectively walk alongside those on the margins.

Today, I want to explore another concept from Practicing the King’s Economy, unpacking what the Bible says about equity and the concept of Jubilee. As Christians in business, we are called to provide opportunities for those on the margins to build equity and take part in Christ’s abundant provision for His people. I’ll also discuss specific ways that entrepreneurship can create pathways to equity for those on the margins.

Jubilee and Restoration

To show God’s plan for everyone to have an equity stake in His economy, Rhodes and Holt go to the Book of Exodus. When the Israelites disobey and are sent to wander the desert for forty years, God uses this time, not only to discipline them, but also to show them what His economy should look like. As He provides manna, God shows them that He is a God of abundance and provides enough for everyone. At the same time, those who try to store up more than they need find it rotten and full of maggots the following day.  Read more

A Potluck Approach: Engaging the Marginalized with Meaningful Work

by Stu Minshew

Work is good, and we are called to glorify God through the work that we do, but what does that look like in our day-to-day lives as entrepreneurs and Kingdom businesspeople? A new book by Michael Rhodes and Robby Holt, Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give, has challenged me to intentionally consider how I can provide employment opportunities for those on the margins of society. Today, I want to share two key takeaways for as we seek to engage those on the margins through our work.

Where Do We Start: Potluck vs. Soup Kitchen

No matter where we live and work, we are surrounded by those in need. Many individuals, and even entire groups of people, live on the margins of our society. There are those who have committed crimes and served time in jail, those treated as inferior because of their race or ethnicity, members of low-income communities, single moms, and the elderly. Almost everywhere in the world, these individuals are afforded less encouragement and fewer opportunities for work, and are often prevented from even pursuing meaningful work.

How should Christians respond? We must start by realizing the value inherent in each individual, a value that comes from the fact that they are created and loved by God. As His followers, we are also called to love them and we demonstrate that love in the way we engage them.  Read more

Putting the Enterprise in Social Enterprise

by Rudy Carrasco

Landscaping. Coffee shops. Handyman services. Training kitchens. Snow removal. Housing for single mothers.

Across the United States, church and business leaders are responding to needs in their communities through social enterprise. Social enterprise addresses a basic unmet need or solve a social problem through a market-driven approach. Many social enterprises mix earned revenue with cash donations to cover their costs—but a growing number of organizations seek to operate profitable business as they pursue shalom.

Shalom—the just conditions in which “nothing is missing, nothing is broken”—is the vision of Grand Rapids, Mich. based Building Bridges Professional Services. Building Bridges started in 2007 to employ young adults facing barriers to employment. They provide landscaping, lawn care, property maintenance, snow removal, and more. Their vision of shalom includes the flourishing of young people who have aged out of the foster care system and have few people or resources to lean on as a safety net.

In 2017, Building Bridges began the process of converting from a nonprofit to an L3C for-profit structure. “To do social enterprise well,” says Nate Beene, CEO of Building Bridges, “you have to closely integrate your social purpose and financial health.”

With support from Partners Worldwide volunteers, Nate and his team began strengthening the business-side of their operations four years ago. “Our budget wasn’t best suited for our industry,” Beene says. “We worked on account codes, breaking down expenses, and allocating costs like vendor repairs and vehicle use.”  Read more

Hyma Brings Shalom

by Ellie Hutchison

Her hand moves rhythmically, hovering in constant motion above the red earth. She draws in rice flour. A trail of white left in her wake, forming geometric swirls, arches, circles, and loops. Her kolam is elaborate, yet simple. Beautiful, but precise.

Each morning, millions of women in India rise and draw kolams on the ground outside their home. Yet their primary purpose is not decoration. Historically, they have been a sign of invitation and welcome. Made of rice flour, they are an offering to ants and other small organisms so they don’t have to walk too far for a meal.

In this way, a kolam embodies our call to care for the vulnerable among us. It is a humble effort to create a welcoming community of harmonious co-existence.

Like most people in Tirunelveli, a city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, kolams were a familiar presence in Hyma’s childhood. They marked her path from home to school and back again. Her eyes would bounce from one to the next as she walked, careful not to smear the intricate designs with her footsteps. Read more

Business and Shalom

by Roxanne Addink de Graaf

Business and Shalom are seldom seen in the same sentence. Shalom is a word more often heard in church than in the marketplace.

However, just coming from a visit with entrepreneurs in Liberia, I’m more convinced than ever of the vital role of business in bringing about true shalom, the shalom God calls us to build here on Earth. Shalom should be a driving force behind the mission of every business, and shalom provides an excellent framework for a wholistic, multiple bottom line kingdom-building business.

The Biblical vision for “shalom” goes beyond our common understanding of peace. As the Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff writes, “Shalom is the human being dwelling at peace in all his relationships: with God, with self, with fellows, with nature… shalom is not merely the absence of hostility…at its highest it is enjoyment in one’s relationships.” (from Until Justice and Peace Embrace, Wolterstorff, 1983)

Relationships are at the heart of shalom, and the marketplace is a place of relationships. We will not achieve a true vision of shalom if we don’t achieve shalom in business, and as Christians in business, we need to be leading this crusade.

Wolterstorff goes on in his essay to describe shalom as a rich and joyous state of right relationship (justice), delight in service of God, the human community and the creation around us. Shalom is not a peaceful spiritual state where physical needs aren’t met, where people are still hungry, injustices prevail or work is no more. Rather, our right relationship with nature involves work and reward. Wolterstorff reflects that the Biblical shalom includes “shaping the world with our labor and finding fulfilment in doing so,” as well as enjoying the fruit of our labor, celebrating with “a banquet of rich fare for all the people.” (Isaiah 25:6) Read more

How Agriculture Ends Poverty: 
3 Discoveries About What Works

by Roxanne Addink DeGraaf

Growing up in Iowa, the agricultural heartland of the United States, I was surrounded by farms. I remember childhood summers milking cows and “walking beans” (walking between rows of soybeans to pick weeds) on my grandparent’s farm. I saw how the farm put food on the table, as I always enjoyed a cold glass of milk from the dairy after chores.

After college, I began to understand agriculture from the perspective of small-scale farmers in Kenya. I worked for two years alongside women who spent long days in their fields to not only put food on the table, but also to earn an income for their families. Everything from buying school uniforms to medical services relied on their farm’s output.

And this is not unique to Kenya. Traveling the globe with Partners Worldwide, I’ve continued to witness the centrality of agriculture in many countries and communities where we work, from subsistence farmers to thriving cooperatives.

Agriculture: A Primary Occupation of the Poor

While employment in agriculture is declining overall, agriculture is still the primary occupation for one in three people in the world (FAO). For people living in poverty, 70% live in rural areas and the majority are involved in agriculture (World Bank/Gates Foundation).

At Partners Worldwide, these facts are shaping how we work towards our vision to end poverty through business so that all may have abundant life.

We recently launched a pilot initiative focused on supporting and leveraging the resources of our partners in Africa who were already serving the agricultural sector. This pilot has been our learning lab. We’ve had some failed experiments, while other interventions have led to powerfully positive outcomes. Overall, the results affirm the vital role that agriculture plays in ending poverty.  Read more