Greetings Shanta community! First, I want to wish you and yours an incredible holiday season filled with laughter, love, and the joy that comes from knowing that YOU are permanently eliminating extreme poverty, one village, one family, one child at a time. Your generosity demonstrates that you deeply care about others and want all people to have the opportunity to build a future filled with hope and possibilities. Thank you!
This fall has been a busy time for us. While operations in Myanmar have accelerated now that COVID cases are dropping, we have also been exploring Zambia looking for potential local partners and project sites. After two trips to Zambia, I can say that it is an excellent place for our expansion. Countless remote villages rely on subsistence farming yet lack basic infrastructure and access to capital. I am confident that our Village Partnership Model, tweaked to fit a different culture and context, will reduce extreme poverty in Zambia.
Several people have asked me how we chose Zambia. To summarize, we looked for a country with a large population of people living in rural areas AND trapped in desperate poverty. In addition, we sought countries where the rural populations relied on subsistence farming. In addition to seeking the type of poverty most suited to our model, we wanted to find a more politically stable country, preferably democratic, that respects human rights and the rule of law. Using the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MDPI) and the Fragile States Index (FSI), we narrowed our list down to a few countries in Africa and the Americas. To further vet the field, we looked for a country with a large total addressable market, i.e., the most significant number of people we could potentially serve. Finally, we further reduced the field by favoring the most impoverished countries on the shortlist and excluding any country whose culture would resist our women’s empowerment emphasis. By the end of that process, we were down to Zambia! Beyond these factors, Zambia also distinguished itself by having strong social cohesion amongst villagers and large populations unserved by NGOs or local charities.
After visiting Zambia twice, I can tell you that everything I saw confirmed our desk research. We met with and interviewed twelve Zambian-led, grassroots, development NGOs, and I think we could potentially select a partner by March/April 2022. That would put us on track to launch pilot villages sometime in 2022! In addition, we have already found new donors who have committed to sponsoring two pilot villages for the entire six-year partnership. A third village, one more than our initial plan of two, is partially funded.
Exciting times are ahead, and I am deeply thankful to work for you (and with you) for the betterment of our world and our partner villages. Thank you for being the change-makers and hope-bringers that our world truly needs.