The Dignity of Choice: How to Alleviate Poverty

“For the first time, their incomes allowed them to decide when to say yes and when to say no. Money is the freedom and confidence of choice. And choice is dignity."

This line from The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between the Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, by Jacqueline Novogratz, the CEO of Acumen Fund, accurately summarizes why financial independence is so critical. Aid alone is insufficient. Help alone just tackles one part of what people in the developing world are up against. We must empower people to live financially independent lives. In the process of doing so, we provide them with dignity.

There are hundreds of answers to poverty, but the answers that provide people with choice are the ones we must focus on. In addition, we must add to the picture God’s work with churches; if we don’t, the incomes being created via our work will not last. (Healthy churches can alleviate corruption by providing biblical ethics to a community.)

Novogratz may not directly identify churches as the answer to many of the issues associated with poverty, but she does make clear that fighting corruption is at the center of alleviating poverty.

“‘Is corruption a cause of poverty?’ I asked Mary one afternoon. ‘Or is poverty a cause of corruption?’ ‘It is both, isn’t it?’ she answered sweetly.”

When we look at the underlying issues associated with poverty in the developing world, we must look at the problems as interconnected. There is no logical chain of events for how poverty begins and what keeps it in place, per se, but there is a logical solution: being holistic in our approach. We know that the web of problems people face in impoverished communities are interconnected. Our solutions to them must also be interconnected.

Jesus’ Economy provides this kind of interconnected plan. We seek to bring the dignity of choice to others through microloans. And we desire to end corruption through healthy churches and biblical ethics training. We want to see the whole person cared for and loved. We believe this is what Jesus would do.

You can bring dignity to the lives of others by donating here. One hundred percent of your donation will go to holistic community development.

(This is part two of three of the “What I Learned from Jacqueline Novogratz” blog series.)

John Barry
John Barry


CEO and Founder of Jesus' Economy. John is the General Editor of the highly acclaimed Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary. His new book is Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. It is widely endorsed by Christian leaders from around the world.