The world’s two strongest economies – the United States and China – are on the path to recovery. However, most countries won’t pull through until 2022 or 2023. According to this study, the pandemic pushed millions into poverty, especially in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The struggle deepens for those in extreme poverty. Scott Clifton of FARMS International says their approach provides a sustainable solution. “You have to compare the needs of emergency relief to development,” he says, comparing FARMS’ technique to cash distributions.
“The cash handout has its place if it’s meeting immediate needs, like food or medicine, that sort of thing. But if you’re in the development situation, where someone might be in poverty but their most basic needs are met, then a cash handout can hurt by creating dependency.”
Working alongside local believers, FARMS provides interest-free revolving loans. “That means when a loan is paid back, that money is available for the next person,” Clifton says.
“There’s local ownership operating the program, and that ownership is really important because [it] propels the future growth of their business.”
It’s a win-win-win situation. Individuals climb out of poverty, church programs get supported, and people hear the Gospel.
“Our recipients commit to giving to their local churches. So as they have profits from their business, they give tithes and offerings to the church, which funds the ministries that that church feels like God has called them to,” Clifton says.
Additionally, Clifton explains in an email, by focusing on increasing earning capacity FARMS provides an opportunity for those who truly want to better their situation:
Our approach is focused on development, dignity, and endurance. When someone receives a loan they are really receiving an opportunity to provide better for their family. They increase their earning potential which they can build on year after year. There is dignity because even though they receive money, they pay it back. It is their work using the skills and intellect that God has given them, and they are responsible for the stewardship of it. This provides meaningful purpose and inspires ownership.
Header image depicts a transaction at a community marketplace. (Photo courtesy of Falaq Lazuardi/Unsplash) https://unsplash.com/photos/laiA0BlQt8A