Coupled with Christ-centered financial services and community, underserved men and women experience restored dignity and spiritual, personal, social, and material transformation
Did you know that farming is one of the most effective jobs for fighting poverty? According to The World Bank, growth in agriculture is two to four times more effective in raising the incomes of families living in poverty, compared to other sectors.
At HOPE International, we believe that equipping farmers in underserved areas around the world is an integral part of the solution to many of the world’s most pressing needs surrounding poverty:
- Hunger—800 million people go to bed hungry every night*
- Malnutrition—45% of deaths in children under 5 are related to malnutrition*
- Financial services—1.7 billion people don’t have access to financial services that could help them invest in their businesses, save for the future, and provide for their families.
- Unemployment—Farming creates jobs and means of productive income for millions of families.
We also believe that our approach to poverty alleviation must address the spiritual needs of those we serve. With 41% of people in the world never hearing the Gospel, the opportunity to share the message of everlasting hope abounds. As Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje of Rwanda said: “Don’t just reach people to farm. Teach them to farm as Christians and care for the environment.”
With a combination of Christ-centered financial services and biblically based agricultural training, HOPE and our partners are investing in farmers so that they can access better nutrition for their families, steward Creation well, create jobs, and experience spiritual, personal, social, and material transformation.
Burundi: coffee farmers see new success
Burundi is one of the world’s most food-insecure countries, and 9 out of 10 people rely on farming for their livelihoods (World Bank). While there are roughly 700,000 coffee farmers in Burundi, they’re among the most underserved by financial institutions.
Turame Community Finance, HOPE’s microfinance institution in Burundi, is the only financial institution in the country focused on serving coffee farmers.
In 2022, 784 coffee farmers participated in a pilot of Turame’s new coffee loan product. In addition to access to financial services, farmers also received agricultural training through the Foundations for Farming curriculum. This helped them increase their harvest and find renewed hope for the future of their farming efforts. Almost 99% repaid their loans—a sign of their success and appreciation of Turame’s support!
Simon Rurihafi, a farmer with 350 coffee trees, shared, “Being able to obtain a loan from Turame because of coffee is motivating and shows that we are not alone in this. It makes us love this crop.”
Changing a stigma around farming
In Burundi and other similar contexts, there’s often a stigma associated with working in agriculture, and farmers can struggle to see value in their work. In addition to offering loans, Turame facilitated a training that 720 coffee farmers took part in. Of those we surveyed following the training, we saw evidence of mindsets shifting:
95% agreed that farming is a viable agribusines compared to just 19% before the training. 100% agreed that farming is commissioned by and glorifies God.
Rwanda: savings groups integrate faith with farming
In Rwanda, savings group members working in agriculture are invited to join Sowers of HOPE (SoH), our farmer-focused discipleship program. Integrated with HOPE’s savings group model, SoH focuses on equipping churches with an agriculture ministry model that instills dignity and hope for Christian farmers. This combination of savings groups and faith-integrated agricultural training has been received enthusiastically by churches in rural areas of Rwanda. As of June 2023, SOH has equipped more than 8,000 savings group members and over 500 churches.
In 2022, we surveyed 103 farmers involved with SoH and asked about their experience. Here’s what we heard:
- 79% said their nutrition improved greatly
- 75% said their spiritual life improved greatly
- 63% said their sense of value and dignity improved greatly
“I never used to see God in my agriculture, but now I am able to combine my farming with the Word of God and have been reading it more than ever.” Tharcise, farmer, Sowers of HOPE
Farmers in low-income countries face relentless challenges, from rising costs of supplies to lack of financing and more. In response, HOPE’s microfinance institutions and savings group programs are coming alongside them with financial services and training specific to their needs. And, through Christ-centered community, they are reminded of their dignity as children of God and the value of their work as farmers.
*USAID Agriculture and Food Security Division