Thirdeyemom

The Adventure Project: Creating Jobs that Help People Thrive

Why Jobs? Because everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive. Yet, 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty. We have the power to change that”.  – Becky Straw and Jody Landers, Co-Founders of The Adventure Project

The more I travel and learn about the world, the more inspired I am to give back and make a difference. Besides writing on non-profits and volunteering, I also like to donate money to causes and non-profit work that I believe in. However, if you are like me, it can be extremely daunting knowing where to even begin especially because there are so many ways you can give and so many charities out there. You can give a one-time donation to a charity that you love, you can purchase a “gift that gives” back, you can finance micro-loans to small businesses or even pay for a girl to go to school or a clean birth kit for a mother in Africa. The list of ways to give back is endless.

Perhaps because it can be so incredibly overwhelming yet exciting all the same, I am passionate about finding new models of giving back and sharing these organizations with you on my blog. Today, I would like to introduce The Adventure Project, a non-profit that “adds venture” to offer education, tools and resources for people to become entrepreneurs and change their lives. I had the opportunity to speak with one of co-founders, Becky Straw, and learn more about the inspiration behind The Adventure Project and what she and co-founder Jody Landers are doing to change the world. Here is what I learned.

The Adventure Project

The Adventure Project Co-Founders, Jody Landers (left) & Becky Straw (right)
Photo credit: Esther Havens

Inspiration

What fascinates me most about the world of giving back is the amazing, inspiring people who are working in the field to make the world a better place. Most of them are inspired by a certain moment in time that leads them to drop what they are doing and take a chance on an idea or a dream. That is just the case for Jody Landers and Becky Straw, the founders of The Adventure Project.

Jody was a stay-at-home mom in Iowa who became aware of the issues surrounding global poverty when she adopted two children in Sierra Leone. Wanting to make a difference in her life and also help others around the world, she began working to raise money for charity: water, a non-profit organization that brings clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. The fact that 663 million people (1 in 10 people) in this world do not have access to clean, safe drinking water astounded Jody.

Jody began raising money for charity:water and became one of their top fundraisers, leading her to a field visit in Liberia where she met Becky Straw, the Program Director for charity:water. Together, an instant friendship was formed and they talked for hours about what it truly means to give back and lift people out of poverty. They realized they had a tremendous amount in common and they both believed strongly that to truly make a difference and alleviate poverty, you must empower people in a sustainable way. The most important thing that people wanted was opportunity. The opportunity to work and make a better life for themselves and their families.

Both Becky and Jody were dismayed to witness that over one-third of the wells installed to provide clean, safe drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa are not working. Often there are no spare parts, no tools to fix them and no trained mechanics. Furthermore, there is no one responsible for doing this kind of work. As frustrating as it was, both women realized that it was also an opportunity. What if they provided the missing piece by working with local non-profits to raise money to fund training and educating workers on how to fix the wells? What if they expanded this idea to work in other areas as well such as health care, the environment and farming – the main challenges that lead to poverty. It was this realization that inspired the beginning of The Adventure Project.

What they do:

The concept behind The Adventure Project is simple. The Adventure Project fills the missing gap between funding and entrepreneurial opportunity. Individual donors are the catalyst for change. First, donors select to donate a specific amount each month (as little as $10 per month can have a huge impact and change a person’s life). Second, The Adventure Project partners with some of the leading non-profit organizations on the ground, focusing on the world’s greatest issues affecting people in poverty such as the environment, health, hunger and water. They strategically invest the funds in projects that provide entrepreneurial opportunities and jobs that lift people out of poverty while transforming local communities with life-saving and life-changing services. Third, donors see their impact directly each month by receiving a story of someone you helped train, equip and empower. You can see your donations directly impacting another person’s life.

“Each entrepreneur leads their community toward a safer environment, improved health, better food, and clean water. They are the heroes. You are the catalyst”. 

The key pillars of their work:

The environment, health, food and water are the four transformative pillars that impact poverty. Here is how the Adventure Project helps:

Environment:

Problem: Cooking over open fires is one of the world’s biggest – but least known – killers. Four million people die each year from breathing in toxic cooking smoke.

Opportunity: Stoves are made locally and sold by men and women in Kenya. Both masons and vendors earn commission for every sale. Each stove saves a family 20% of their daily expenses, because they use 50% less charcoal per day. One stove saves six trees from being turned into charcoal each year. This program just became self-sustaining in Haiti so now is being replicated in Kenya.

Health:

Problem: Every minute, three children die in the developing world because they do not have access to basic medicines – treatments that cost less than a cup of coffee.

Opportunity: Train local leaders to become health care agents, so they can earn a living selling over 60 products at affordable prices. Each person cares for approximately 700 people in their community, giving special attention to pregnant mothers and young children.

The Adventure Project

A Community Health Promoter treating a mother and her children in Uganda. Photo credit: Esther Havens.

Food:

Problem: 80% of the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa work as rural farmers. Each night, 75% of their children go hungry because they struggle to grow enough to feed their families.

Opportunity:  12-15 million farmers in Africa would benefit from irrigation. One irrigation pump can lift a farmer and his family out of poverty and into the middle class in only one harvest. On average, each farmer grows enough to sell produce to 77 community members, and earns enough to send one child to school for the first time.

The Adventure Project

Hannah, a farmer from Kenya who is using her new irrigation pump to water her crops. Photo credit: Esther Havens.

Water

Problem:  Over one-third of all wells drilled in the last twenty years are now broken – 50,000 are currently broken in Africa alone.

Opportunity: Training local well mechanics to fix and maintain wells is the most sustainable way to ensure wells are always working so people have access to clean water. Mechanics earn income from the communities.

The Adventure Project

Ram Rati, the first female well mechanic in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo credit: Esther Havens.

What sets them apart

There are so many charities out there so what makes The Adventure Project different and stand out? Easy. It is effective and it works.

It is proven that economic growth is critical to lifting communities and people out of poverty and moving them into prosperity. A recent Gallop poll conducted of over 170 countries asking people what the one most important wish they had was to be employed. Jobs matter. People want the opportunity to work and provide for their family.

By providing a job, you are changing everything about a person’s life and pulling them out of poverty which will lift their family out of poverty and help the entire community as well.

Where they work and with who

Currently The Adventure Project is working in four countries: Haiti, India, Uganda and Kenya. Their field partners include: Kickstart, GVEP, Lifeline, LivingGoods, Water for People and WaterAid.

The Adventure Project

Grace, a community health promoter in Uganda with some of the children she treats. Photo credit: Esther Havens.

Impact

As of January 2016, a total of 862 jobs have been created.
results-Jan-2016 copy

How to help:

All donations are secure and 100% tax-deductive. You can set up your own giving plan online. Another option for giving back is offered through The Adventure Project’s partnership with APOTHEKE. For $35, you can buy a “lump of coal” soap which provides one woman in Kenya with a clean cookstove.

 

All information above was provided by my interview with co-founder Becky Straw and on The Adventure Project’s website. To learn more about The Adventure Project, click here. 

 

 

24 comments

  1. What an amazing charity – Thanks for shining light on it. Just as you said, choosing a charity to donate to is often so overwhelming. I think as a mom now I want more than ever to help others provide a safe & successful environment for their families.

    • So glad you enjoyed Krista! Every time I get off the phone with these amazing people doing such fantastic work, I feel so incredibly inspired. It is so wonderful to know that there is so much we can do to help too. Thanks for the comment! 🙂 I will be featuring way more organizations that are doing amazing things so stay tuned! 🙂

  2. This is a fantastic post ~ social responsibility is becoming more a part of the 1st world (in the sense that people are aware of global issues ~ a vital step forward). To have you write about such issues and the good of projects such as The Adventure Project is great to see. Just last week I was in Portland, OR at a talk where they discussed the horrible result of smoke from cooking and fires create ~ so it felt good to see you address this in your post. Well done.

    • Thanks so much for the comment! I love all these amazing organizations that are stepping up to the challenge of changing the world. They are so incredibly creative and innovative at ways that challenge the traditional charity models that work but not always. Yes, smoke inhalation is terrible! When I was in Tanzania and did a tour of the Maasai, I was stunned to see the inside of their huts covered in thick black smoke. The kids were also covered in charcoal dust. I realized how sad it was that they had to live that way when a simple, clean cookstove for us isn’t much money but for them a fortune. It is great to see organizations addressing and brining awareness to these issues.

  3. What an amazing and smart organization this is. Identifying gaps/issues and providing training to help those that we want to assist help themselves is both enabling (in a good way) and sustainable. Seems like a very smart way to spend dollar. Both a donation and an investment. Thanks for letting me know about this organization Nicole.

    • Thanks Lisa! I agree that The Adventure Project is pretty darn cool. They are so innovative and creative at how to go about solving some of the world’s biggest problems. I’m delighted to see that more charities are working out of the box and truly coming up with creative concepts and models that work to impact change.

    • You’re welcome Madhu! I am very impressed with The Adventure Project. I love how they are using such creative ideas to solve such large yet fixable problems.

  4. What a wonderful project! I learned so much just reading this post…I didn’t realize how ignorant I had been about all of these seemingly small problems affecting so many people in such a devastating way. Thanks for this!

    • Thanks so much! This is exactly why I write about social good…to let the world know about these issues. I had no idea about a lot of this stuff either until I started traveling more and diving into the entire social good world. It is quite eye-opening! I’m learning every day! 🙂 So thanks so much for reading! I have tons of posts on different social good issues in case you are wanting to learn more. http://thirdeyemom.com/category/advocacy-and-social-good/ngos/

      • You’re welcome! On another note, I saw on your blog that you write a ton about London! My mom, sister and I are doing a girls trip there in May and of course I want all the inside scoop on what to see, do, eat, etc. Can you point me to any particular posts of yours that will help us in planning? I am embarrassed to tell you that I haven’t been there since 1993! I guess I’ve been doing more off the beaten path travel! 🙂 Nicole

      • Hey! Thanks for being in touch about this and I’m so sorry for my delayed response. Been preparing for a tour all week that starts tomorrow in Florence and things are crazy but great! 🙂 Good question about London. I was there for three weeks last May. I had a blast but I was very poor so my itinerary was very random. I realized a lot of the touristy destinations like the Tower of London, etc, are really expensive. On the other hand the museums are free. So I just spent every day at the fantastic museums. Loved the Tate the most because of their regular free docent tours, and the amazing view of the Thames from the upstairs cafe. Also that area is beautiful in general, just to stroll along the river. So much to do from the huge outdoor market a short walk from the Tate, to Shakespeare’s Old Globe where you can stand and watch a show for super cheap or enjoy the pretty restaurant. In general I was so poor I just decided to walk everywhere and would stop along the way at historical pubs and drink a half pint for around two pounds. It was an amazing experience. 🙂 Also the London School of Beauty has all these great services for super cheap including massages. I got a few, ha! 🙂 The parks in London are amazing in general. I loved the photography museum. I did a few “London Walks.” They can be a bit too academic, but the Jack the Ripper one is fantastic and a great intro to East London. East London is incredible to walk around and enjoy with all the street art. And the side trips from London are incredible – Stonehenge is just a hop skip and a jump away. Best to just go by coach. You can reserve one of the many coaches for maybe around 60 pounds. Some do little things in addition to Stonehenge so the price just depends. Also loved Stratford Upon Avon, but a bit further away. I follow this blog and it has some good suggestions!
        https://ellisgoesonholiday.wordpress.com (PS-Sorry for throwing such random info at you!)

      • Thank you! I just got back to Bologna from Florence and am playing catch-up now. It was nice to be there, but it is nice now to have a break from the tourists. I hope some of the suggestions will be helpful for you. 🙂 London is amazing!!

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