“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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.