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Economic Development

We have learned that the most reliable, sustainable way to end hunger and poverty where we work is to develop and strengthen inclusive local economies. We do this by helping people start or expand farmer-owned businesses, cooperatives and social enterprises so they can profitably participate in pro-poor wealth creating value chains.

Pro-poor wealth creating value chains integrate poor and vulnerable groups into market activities in an equitable and fair manner. These value chains create lasting wealth that is rooted and stays in communities through local ownership, mutually beneficial linkages and inclusive business relationships. We work with farmers and communities to:

  • Determine best value chain opportunities
  • Identify, support and strengthen agri-enterprises
  • Deploy capital and technology
  • Mobilize values-based private sector partnerships

We know from our large-scale value chain projects in East Africa, Nepal and Haiti that entrepreneurs play a key role in rural economic development. They design and commercialize products and services, create jobs and generate new waves of economic development in their communities. We equip socially-minded entrepreneurs, especially women and youth, with the skills and resources they need to earn living incomes.

Living Income

Achieving a living income means that all the income of a household earned/generated or transferred, whether cash or in-kind, is sufficient to enable all members of the household to afford a decent standard of living. Additionally, families can educate all their children and feed themselves nutritious food every day, and have proper housing, water, hygiene and all other essential resources. We are working to establish living income benchmarks for all program areas.

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Case Study: Ten Years of Coffee

We go beyond these traditional inputs to work with commodities such as dairy, poultry, eggs, goats, sheep, rabbits, cocoa, coffee and spices, among others. By strengthening market access for farmers, we are furthering collaboration among producers, processors, suppliers, distributors, transporters and consumers.

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  • 138k Small-Scale Farmers

    with increased income. Heifer-supported producer organizations, or dairy hubs, in East Africa Dairy Development II (EADD II) realized milk revenues totaling $11 million in 2015 compared to $7.3 million in 2014 – an overall 52 percent increase.

  • Empowering 30k Women

    Phases I and II of Heifer’s project in Cambodia increased average monthly household income from about $107 to $358 and improved families’ adequate food provision from about eight to 11 months.

  • 18,938 Families

    or about 90 percent of families currently being reached in Heifer’s work in Cambodia have taken out a loan, and about 85 percent of those loans were used to invest in income-generating activities, such as raising livestock, growing vegetable gardens and rice, as well as starting or expanding small businesses.

Gender Equality and Assessment of Women's Empowerment In Heifer Vietnam Project

This study focuses on estimating the gender equity and women’s empowerment in Heifer Vietnam’s projects, comparing indicators before and after joining the project, as well as the causes for the efficiencies of the projects at the household level. The study concludes that after joining the project, households saw improved income and assets; more diversified and healthy diets; and improved women’s empowerment across a number of measures, including increased contribution of women to family income, increased access to training and education, improved role in family-level decision-making, and reduced domestic violence against women and girls. The four most important contributing factors to positive project impact are the contribution of women to family incomes, access to micro-credit, fruit production, and income from rice cultivation.

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Evaluating the Asset Transfer Model in Facilitating Sustainable Livelihoods

This study examines whether a development model centered on asset transfer and training catalyze significant and sustainable effects on livelihoods for vulnerable populations. We also examine whether the infusion of three sources of capital – physical, human and social – generated sufficient increases in net income to bring participants above the benchmark of a living income.

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Milk in the Data: Food Security Impacts from a Livestock Field Experiment in Zambia

This study examines the staggered rollout of livestock distribution by Heifer International in Zambia to identify the effects of livestock ownership. Results indicate that livestock ownership improves dietary diversity, and further results indicate that expanded livestock ownership alters the local food economy to influence food consumption by households lacking farm animals.

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Role of Heifer in Employment among Smallholder Farmers in Highlands and Semi-Arid Regions of Tanzania

This paper explores the employment opportunities generated by Heifer International in the highlands and semi-arid regions of Tanzania. Results show that Heifer International generated employment opportunities and income among smallholder farmers through rural dairy farming, milk collection, milk vending, water trading, animal health provision and artificial insemination services. The study recommends more investments in rural dairy farming to promote self-employment.

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