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Contents: A story that shapes us, impact updates from each of our partners, and resources for deeper engagement.

The Story

Are we working toward treating or ending extreme poverty?

On a summer night in Gunchire, Ethiopia, Chris Marlow sat at a campfire next to Local Leader Aschalew Abebe. They shared traditional macchiatos and popcorn, discussing the complexities of poverty in the country. At the time, Gunchire struggled with some of the highest child abandonment rates in the country.  

The day before, Chris asked a child in Gunchire what he hoped to be when he grew up. His response? “I want to go to school…” The boy spent his days working in labor fields to support his younger sister and single mother. 

One of the curses of poverty is that it erodes our capacity to make future-oriented decisions. 

What did he dream of? He dreamed of going to school that next day instead of the fields. This response weighed on Chris and Aschalew as they watched the fire. The boy, living with his mother, didn’t meet the current needs for child sponsorship. Meanwhile, his whole family was barely hanging on.  

Aschalew broke the silence – 

“Dramatically increasing a parent’s income could eliminate the need for sponsorships altogether.” If our goal is survival, we can focus on finding support for the boy working in the fields, but if our goal is flourishing, we need to help the boy’s mother.”

As the fire died down, Chris and Aschalew were certain: The most important work we can do is to help keep families together. Healthy families transform communities. 

Today, we have empowered over 1,480 families to launch their own businesses across the world, over 870 of these in Ethiopia alone. Families have stayed together. Parents are sending their children to school instead of into the fields. Communities are flourishing. 

While child sponsorships continue to provide life-saving support to children in need, the Family Business Program helps us work towards a future wherein those sponsorships are no longer necessary. 

So what do we dream of? 

Families surviving, or families flourishing?

The Data

Family Business Program Data:

Cumulative number of families empowered through the years.

752 students were enrolled in school in 2022 alone as a direct result of families empowered through the program!

The Deeper Dive

Perspective and insight from TED Talks and our team’s visit to Ethiopia.

Hear how women entrepreneurs are the key to economic development and ending poverty…

Watch the TED Talk

Our team recently visited empowered families in Ethiopia. Hear about their experiences…

Read More from the Team

Want to learn more about how to move Upstream together? Contact our team for any questions or to talk through how you can join this story and change the world!

“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

 Desmond Tutu