Most of our efforts pertaining to this program involve studying new approaches and developing innovative ways to implement them. We evaluate our success in this field by gathering qualitative and quantitative data, and using that information to measure shifts and changes from our baseline measurements.
Poverty continues to be an enduring problem in Africa, despite the efforts of governments and the organized private sector to end it. Each year, millions of people in Africa transition out of poverty using any number of ways including adopting new farming technologies, finding new jobs, or accessing funds to set up new businesses. At the same time, millions more slide into poverty due to a range of challenges including sickness, financial setbacks, inadequate infrastructure, and other shocks. In Nigeria, for instance, 110 million of her 170 million people live below the poverty line. This number is higher than at any other period in Nigeria’s history. Yet, Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa with GDP growth rate of about 7% yearly and witnessing industrial boom predicated on increasing oil production. Compounding this problem is the fact that resources meant to improve infrastructures and to encourage industrial expansion, which will create new opportunities for the people, are routinely stolen in bogus schemes perpetrated by government officials in collaboration with dubious foreign partners.
More importantly, corrupt individuals routinely steal political power, which becomes the basis for stealing scarce resources. This has made the competition for power a zero-sum game where the “winner” takes all and inspiring violent political contests, which destroys vital infrastructure and directly and indirectly create more poverty.
The Okonofua Foundation aims to help families that are trapped in poverty to move out of poverty and help other families that are on the margins avoid a slide into poverty. A growing body of evidence suggests that access to financial resources, including small scale, short-term, no-interest loans can determine whether a poor household is able to leverage access to resources to escape poverty or whether a household on the margin can slide into poverty. The continued absence of these types of resources or the presence of alternative funding sources that ultimately push people into poverty, creates the opportunity for us to engage and provide support in ways that are very meaningful.
Our approach has three mutually reinforcing objectives:
Increasing poor people’s capacity to withstand financial shocks and capture income-generating opportunities.
Providing resources and opportunities to populations at risk of sliding into poverty, in order to prevent them from sliding into poverty.
Providing access to resources and opportunities to a cross section of society as a way to encourage cross-cultural interaction and collaboration in the war against poverty.
We believe that we can play a catalytic role in expanding access to opportunities for underserved populations, especially in rural communities in Africa. Our entrepreneurship support program aims to provide small scale financial support through credit grants, no-interest loans, and entrepreneurial training to populations in poverty or at risk of falling into poverty. We believe that the combined effect of our interventions will accelerate the rate that people can transition out of poverty or avoid a slide into poverty.