25 years after genocide devastated Rwanda, a brave woman named Immaculee loved her country so much that she wanted to make a difference. Immaculee Nyiramuhakwa saw the poverty in her home and community, and desired to change the world around her. She is a gifted weaver, and knew how valuable that was. She invited a group of impoverished women to come together and learn the craft. Out of the vision for a better future for their community, the group called themselves the Abaharaniriterambere "People Fighting for Development" Cooperative.

15 years later, the group is comprised of 26 women and 2 men. They are working with excellence in their area of specialty, using locally grown products such as banana leaves to create functional household items. 

This reminds me of another Immaculee from Rwanda. Immaculee Illibagiza wrote about her surviving the Rwandan genocide of 1994 in her book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Admist the Rwandan Genocide. She and seven other women survived by hiding in the tiny bathroom of a pastor’s house. She details the terror of it all, but amazingly, also shares the incredible faith she found in Christ in the midst of it. With no personal space and very little food or water, she passed the long hours by reading the Bible and praying. Since then, she has become an inspirational speaker and been involved in many important initiatives for her country.

The resilience of the people of Rwanda is inspiring. Men and women of bravery and fortitude who love their country dearly and desire a better future have worked hard to see it revitalized. Immaculee Nyiramuhakwa is one of those people and helps lift her Rwandan community out of poverty with the weaving cooperative.

The cooperative group’s goal is to develop themselves and their community through their art. In the past year, the group members have been able to use their income to provide food, clothing, and soap for their families. The married women of the group have seen peace and happiness grow in their homes as they have had the opportunity for financial independence and the dignity of being significant contributors to the family’s wellbeing. The members of Abaharaniriterambere use their time together not only to weave and exchange advice, but to discuss important topics such as women’s rights. With Immaculee still leading the way, this group is determined to continue to better themselves and their community, and to stand strong in Rwanda’s vision for a better future. The artisans currently work in the local schoolyard in Nyaruguru District, but they dream of building their own weaving house.

Their beautiful, locally sourced products are made by hand, and are great conversational pieces for the Western market. Entertaining guests with a banana leaf nesting tray or the banana leaf divided serving tray are great ways to serve in style, and more importantly, share the stories of the inspiring people behind the products. 

Banana Leaf Nesting Tray Sets from Rwanda 

Banana Leaf Divided Serving Tray 

The weaving cooperative is among 30 independent groups in Rwanda who partner with Azizi Life. Azizi Life is a partner of Jesus’ Economy. The vision of Azizi Life is “to participate in local initiatives for the development of Rwandan communities, working towards physical and spiritual wholeness for all.”

When you shop at Jesus’ Economy, you can choose the “Shop Fair Trade by Artisan” feature. Each of our artisans has a special story, and is changing lives in their family and community. You can also choose the “Shop by Country” feature, and choose Rwanda to support Immaculee and the Abaharaniriterambere Cooperative.  

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is November 25, two days after Americans give thanks for a multitude of blessings. Many women in both developed and developing countries will just be giving thanks that they live to see another day. 

The Frequency of Violence Against Women 

Violence against women persists throughout the world and takes on many forms. While many people tend to see it as an issue that only exists in oppressed countries where women aren't viewed as equals, it's a problem that runs rampant even in developed countries like the United States. Oftentimes, it takes the form of domestic violence and sexual assault but it can also be genital mutilation and random attacks in the street. 

The UN reports that in 87 countries from 2005 to 2016, 19 percent of women ages 15 to 49 said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in the previous 12 months.

This typically translates into 1 in 3 women experiencing violence against them at some point in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization. That means that if you are a woman and have two female friends, one of you has experienced assault in some form because of your gender. If you're a man and you have three female friends, one of them has experienced someone being physically violent toward them. 

Taking Action 

This is why the UN established days like the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Awareness is key and it can lead to action. That's where we've stepped in to help women in poverty. 

Many of our artisan co-operatives are comprised of women who are sewing and creating products by hand to support themselves and their children. This means they can afford to send their kids to school, buy food for their table, and shoes for their feet. When children are educated, human rights issues such as gender inequality aren't as prominent. The children learn right from wrong, fair from unfair, and how to treat others no matter their gender or skin color. 

In addition to our female artisans, as part of our Renew Bihar program we have created an empowering women program. When the program is fully launched, we will be able to train women on how to develop and create quality products. We'll also show them how to run a business, hire employees, and practice ethical business standards. We will walk alongside them as they slowly build a small business and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. 

Empowering Women 

Here at Jesus' Economy, we are in the business of empowering women. When women are empowered, the cycle of poverty breaks which helps the community in which they live. As a result, more people in the community are able to have access to education. When communities see this increase in education, the violence against women decreases. 

When International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women arrives this Saturday the 25, talk about it with your friends and family, spread awareness, pray about how you can help end violence against women across the globe, and then take action. 

“God gives power to the weary. … Even young people will be faint and grow weary … But those who wait for Yahweh shall renew their strength. They shall go up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:28–31 LEB, adapted).

Bihar, India is one of the most impoverished regions of the world. Using the multi-dimensional poverty line—which measures health, education, and living standards—72.3 million people in Bihar fall below it.

In Bihar, hope is often hard to come by, because employment opportunities, clean drinking water, medical care, and churches are hard to find. Jesus’ Economy is partnering with Transformation India Movement to renew hope, hearts, and homes in Bihar. We believe a holistic approach—combined with the prayer and financial support of you, our partners—will better the lives of many in a sustainable way.

Planting churches

There are still millions of unreached people in Bihar, India. Healthy churches alleviate corruption by providing ethical guidance and support to communities. As a result, job creation efforts are more stable. Jesus’ Economy is funding 18 indigenous church planters. Each church planter will reach five to seven villages, and 150 people per month on average.

Empowering Women in Business

A woman empowered through business can lift her entire family out of poverty and create jobs for others. Many of the women in Bihar, India have not been taught marketable skills. Transformation India Movement, Jesus’ Economy’s partner, is doing something about this. They have been helping women to become self-sufficient through Bridge of Hope Tailoring Centers for over five years. Jesus’ Economy is expanding this program for 40 graduates, teaching them to develop products for a U.S. market and providing business training for the success of their own local businesses. Jesus’ Economy is also making microloans available to the women who desire to expand their businesses quickly with new supplies and equipment. At the end of the loan period, we will buy some of the products the women will create for resell on our fair trade store—providing an immediate source of income from the U.S. market.

Drilling Water Wells

A bore well has the capacity to provide 2,000 people with clean water who would not have access otherwise. It also prevents water-borne illnesses—the deep aquifer provides clean water. Jesus’ Economy will fund one water well per area the church planters are reaching, totaling 18 wells. Water-borne illnesses are a leading cause of death in Bihar, India. You can do something about it.

Establishing Medical Clinics

People living in impoverished communities in Bihar have a very difficult time affording healthcare. Jesus’ Economy will establish a medical clinic by funding the necessary additions—like air conditioning and furnishings—for a room in the Transformation India Movement Center, a building owned by Jesus' Economy's partner Transformation India Movement.

Jesus’ Economy will also be funding pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. In addition, for two years, Jesus’ Economy will fund a doctor to work at the clinic and visit villages. The doctor will see and treat patients, as well as offer health-training seminars, in an effort to move towards preventative medicine. You can help us make this happen.

You Can Renew Bihar

Jesus’ Economy designed this project with people in Bihar and it will be executed by them. Together—with you—we can renew Bihar. We need to raise $345,000. At approximately 117,520 people will be impacted by this project—that’s $2.94 per person. How many lives can you afford to change?

Partner with us to renew hope, hearts, and homes in Bihar, India.

 

 

Some countries have rapid economic growth and others seem to decline. It’s difficult to understand the reasons why. Jeffrey Sachs in his book The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time explains how this happens. Sachs identifies eight reasons why countries fail to have economic growth. I have included four of the reasons from his list here with my own explanation of his ideas. The other four reasons were included on yesterday’s blog post. When applicable, I have also included explanations of how the model of Jesus’ Economy works to overcome these barriers for economic growth.

 

1. “Cultural Barriers”

Cultural barriers are one of the most complex issues facing those living in poverty. Even if a certain people group or government wants to overcome poverty problems, it may be a cultural or religious norm that some people are viewed as less than others. Perhaps the most common form of this barrier is the way women are viewed in patriarchal societies. There are other cultural norms, though, as well, such as the way work is viewed, and how communities function.

Jesus’ Economy aims to overcome these barriers with healthy churches, who preach equality, and biblical ethics training for entrepreneurs receiving microloans.

 

2. “Geopolitics”

At times, barriers or embargoes on trade between two countries can impede economic growth. In addition, some larger economic powers unfairly favor trading with certain smaller countries over others. This can happen for all sorts of political reasons. Overcoming this requires two countries to work out their differences.

 

3. “Lack of Innovation”

In an economically impoverished country, resources usually hold innovators back from making progress. In places where innovation is desperately needed to overcome major issues facing the poor, innovators are often forced to resolve that their ideas will remain just ideas.

Jesus’ Economy overcomes this problem by offering microloans and training to entrepreneurs. We bring the capital and resources to empower innovators.

 

4. “The Demographic Trap”

Due to all sorts of circumstances and norms, there are more children coming into the world in the developing world than other places around the globe. This has resulted in a massive boom of people who need educations and economic help. The developing world is growing faster, in terms of people, than the developed world. This means that the problems facing the developing world need to be handled or we will end up with even more people in poverty than we have today.


Despite these barriers, we can make a difference. We may not be able to overcome all of them, but we can overcome many of them. Donate today to holistic regional transformation.

(This is part two of two of "Ways Countries Fail to Grow Economically." It's a sub-series of the blog series "What I Learned from Jeffrey Sachs.")

From the outside, it can seem like a mystery why certain countries are poor and others are not. However, there are tangible reasons why certain countries remain poor. There are also tangible solutions. This is what Jeffrey Sachs in his book The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time explains. Sachs identifies eight reasons why countries fail to have economic growth. I have included four of the reasons from his list here and offered my own explanations of his ideas. The next four will be included in tomorrow’s post.

 

1. “The Poverty Trap: Poverty Itself as a Cause of Economic Stagnation”

There is a cycle to poverty: People who are poor lack the “savings” and “capital—
physical, human, and natural”—to overcome poverty. The idea is that poverty itself leaves people in the same circumstances despite their efforts to change them. As much as people may try, there is a barrier in place to becoming wealthy, and that barrier is poverty and its implications upon their daily lives.

The poverty cycle and a solution to it is explained in this infographic.

 

2. “Physical Geography”

If the country you live in is full of mountains or deserts, it’s very difficult for proper infrastructure to be created. It’s also problematic to transport goods. This prevents most types of companies from existing.

 

3. “Fiscal Trap”

When a government doesn’t have the necessary resources to create infrastructure, economies struggle to grow. This is the case for many impoverished countries. The physical geography problems, and often the simple infrastructure problems, cannot be overcome because of a lack of financing. This keeps the economy stagnant.

 

4. “Governance Failures”

An ineffective government can ruin any economy. This is certainly the case for many governments around the globe, and seems to be especially true in the developing world. There is little the average person can do about this. But there is something.

Jesus’ Economy offers leadership training, accompanied by biblical ethics training, to help overcome some of the barriers of corruption that run through many societies in the developing world. (Corruption in many developing world societies became widespread because it was the only way people knew to survive.) When a group of people begins to live by a higher standard of ethics, others may soon follow. This can produce moral change around the board.


People who live in poverty are not any different than you and me. They just need help overcoming the barriers in their way. Jesus’ Economy offers solutions to many of these problems. Donate today to holistic regional transformation.

(This is part one of two of "Ways Countries Fail to Grow Economically." It's a sub-series of the blog series "What I Learned from Jeffrey Sachs.")