What Are You Engaged In?

What Are You Engaged In?

We all know some of those people.  Every year they make a trip to some exotic location or volunteer in a country that we have no personal knowledge or experience with.  I wonder what is it that draws them, repeatedly, to make this trip. I know many such people. I was one of them.

Last week, I met someone for the first time.  She too is a world traveler. Her name is Joanna.  She flew in from Baltimore for an International Association of Better Business Bureaus for a conference here in Grand Rapids.  She was retained as their official professional photographer. Jeff and I spent about six hours with her on Saturday showing her our water filter products, strategy, and facilities.

When one of our distributors found out she was going to be in Grand Rapids, he suggested she take a day to meet us.

I asked her what captured her interest working with one of our clean water partners.  She said it was on a trip to Cambodia. It was watching the people respond. The women laughed, giggled, and joked as they tasted the clean and safe water coming through the filter for the first time.  It was the spontaneous joy of others that captured her spirit. 

That experience was enough.  She now volunteers and brings dozens of people to semi-annual fundraising events that provide clean water solutions for people around the world.  However, it is not just the experience, but it is bringing others along who also then embrace this experience. As in everything, the exceptional becomes mundane and routine regardless of how important and impressive the experience was.   What never seems to fade is seeing others become involved, excited, and passionate. It is for that reason so many international travelers never travel alone. They want to relive the excitement of discovery and joy through the eyes of the new travelers.  She is a master of introducing people to this opportunity, whether it is to volunteer, travel, donate, or be engaged in some other way. Retirement does not get any better than this and she is only thinking about retiring to work full time in clean water projects and by inference Business Connect.  We are so grateful for her and her heart.

What are you engaged in?

Lou Haveman, Founder of Business Connect

Waterbag Filtration Project For Urukundo and Kigali in Rwanda

Waterbag Filtration Project For Urukundo and Kigali in Rwanda

Preliminary Report on HSBC Bank Middle East Limited Funded

Waterbag Filtration Project For Urukundo and Kigali in Rwanda

Background information

Waterbag Filtration Project

According to a recent multi-country review by the World Health Organization from 54 low- and middle-income countries, 38 percent of health care facilities lack access to even rudimentary levels of water, 19 percent lack sanitation and 35 percent do not have water and soap for hand washing. The situation significantly worsens when looking for a higher standard of WASH coverage. Rural health care facilities are much worse off compared to districts and referral hospitals.

Specifically access to clean water is a challenge in many parts of Rwanda, and children are the ones who suffer most.

To reduce child mortality and to improve child well-being, Operation Give and Grow (OGG) partnered with DayOne Response and HSBC Bank Middle East Limited to provide Waterbags and purification packets that turns undrinkable/dirty water into safe drinking water. OGG prepositioned and deployed 252 DayOne WaterBags into communities for use in WASH initiatives and specifically to provide clean drinking water. This deployment was carried to improve existing practices in WASH as well as be integrated into additional OGG emergency deployments and areas with WASH challenges in the region.

Description of Assessment and Project

A needs assessment was carried out by OGG in specific areas of Rwanda and it became apparent that many disadvantaged families and children’s homes had challenges in getting safe drinking water because most water sources (especially shallow wells) and rivers had contaminated water. In October 2017, OGG entered into a partnership with DayOne Response to participate in a deployment of DayOne WaterBags funded by HSBC Bank Middle East Limited. OGG identified Urukundo and Suburbs of Kigali Rwanda were the areas most in need of WASH interventions.

Map of Rwanda

Rwanda Map shows Kigali in yellow

Equipment – DayOne Waterbag

The DayOne Waterbag, using the Procter & Gamble (P&G) Purifier of Water treatment packets, is an innovation designed to provide safe drinking water immediately following a disaster. The DayOne Waterbag delivers all four elements of a municipal water system: collection, transport, treatment, and protected storage. It is a 10-liter water backpack designed for use with P&G packets that are already distributed worldwide. The DayOne Watebags come with universal pictographic instructions that enable untrained individuals to convert muddy water into safe drinking water. As a backpack, it greatly decreases fatigue in hauling water long distances, and, inside the sealed bag, treated water is protected from recontamination. The DayOne Waterbag is primarily intended to bridge the gap between a disaster and the resurgence of traditional purification methods. It is intended for emergency use, such as after a flood or hurricane event.

Through the HSBC’s sponsorship, DayOne Response provided the 252 DayOne Waterbags to OGG and each product included:

DayOne Waterbag and attached filter, an initial 60 P&G Purifier of Water sachets (to treat a minimum of 600-liters of water), pictograph instructions to support training and packet cutter to open the P&G packets An additional 240 P&G Purifier of Water sachets are being supplied throughout the year to extend of use of the product. This enables families to have access to clean drinking water throughout the entire year via the DayOne Waterbag and sachet resupply.

Photo of the DayOne Waterbag


In October 2017 OGG carried out an orientation and basic training on the use of the DayOne Waterbag as part of the HSBC funding at the “children of God” children’s Home and Urukundo foundation Children’s home the orientation was provided to the Municipal representatives, Officials and community volunteers. The focus of the training was to ensure that the teams could demonstrate the use of the DayOne Waterbags to the wider community in emergencies but more so in areas challenged by lack of clean drinking water. As part of action points from the training, each home prepared a deployment plan for the DayOne Waterbags.

WaterDay Bag

Photo of school children learning

Volunteers were selected from each home to participate in an evaluation for the use of the DayOne Waterbag. The volunteers were expected to provide feedback regarding the usability of the DayOne Waterbags at household level. 252 DayOne Waterbags were distributed to the Children’s homes which accommodated over 1,000 individuals including local families, children and parents/guardians to those children at the homes. The new community volunteers were tasked with using the DayOne Waterbags in their households for day to day purposes.

OGG Approach

Described below is the distribution plan OGG utilized in the WASH program.

  1.  OGG identified four distribution centers all of which are children’s homes, three in Kigali and one in Urukundo namely The Urukundo Foundation.
  2. The deserving families within the locality assembled at the Children’s homes for
    training and distribution.
  3. A record of all beneficiaries was kept for the purpose of follow-up and for
    quarterly distribution of the P&G Sachets as indicated in no.4 below.
  4. The P&G sachets will continue to be distributed quarterly to enable prudent usage by each family or institution.
  5. OGG representatives in Rwanda are managing the quarterly distribution of the P&G
    Sachets on the ground and will continue to provide periodic reports on how the beneficiaries are utilizing the Waterbags.

Main Observations

The two areas where OGG distributed the Waterbags, the Kigali suburbs and the Urukundo foundation had the following feedback.

  1. Within the suburb of Kigali the villagers who attended the demo and were interviewed described the lack of safe drinking water. For many of the villagers the only key source of the drinking water was a highly contaminated river where they drew their demo sample from. Indeed, many of the school children and their parents shared that they had developed stomach problems due to the challenges of the water and some contaminated wells.
  2. OGG personally interviewed one of the educators in a children’s home and they communicated that this Waterbag project was very timely and a God send for them to be able to obtain clean domestic water from the river (which is actually next to the Children’s home) since it is one of the greatest needs at the school. Besides this they have had to put up with taking water from a well within the compound, in which the water is very saline.
  3. When OGG collected the water from the river and conducted the Waterbag purification process those who tasted the water immediately commented that the water was much sweeter and softer. This was a most remarkable transformation before their very eyes. The village coordinator and Educator took time to immediately plan how they could effectively spread the word to many area dwellers who have settled on consuming the water from the river without purifying and filtering it now that they now had an alternative. They felt that the DayOne Waterbag was an eye opener and a true blessing.

    Louisa an Educator in charge of a children’s home which houses over 150 children and also one of the recipients of the Watebags had this to say about the project:

    “Thank you for the Waterbags that you have donated to us and the community. We are sure that your deeds are a good example even to our benefactors. By helping you not only give prosperity but also joy and hope. Your help is a priceless contribution to charity and undoubtedly appreciable support to the disadvantaged and the needy. Thank you for your care, compassion and mercy, and for the contribution you have made to transform our society. God Bless You.”

  4. At Urukundo, the Village coordinator and the children’s home received the DayOne Waterbags with much appreciation and great expectation. The demonstration amazed many of those present as the initial untreated water was highly discolored prior to start of the treatment and the end result was pure, clean and safe drinking water.

Hygiene and Behavior Change

OGG utilized behavior change framework tools to move people from knowledge to practice. These tools helped identify critical barriers and enabling factors to behavior change and helped develop a practical plan to move a priority group toward sustained practice of a desired WASH-related behavior such as repeated use of the DayOne Waterbag. In Rwanda the primary target was children’s homes which educated the children on the importance of hygiene and behavior change. Following the OGG and DayOne Response program the children have become passionate advocates of the need for clean drinking water and a strong influence on their parents too.

Social Inclusion

Under the WASH program, social inclusion empowered people to take advantage of the Waterbags. OGG particularly focused the program on children including those with disability and gender inclusion.

Many of the families affected by challenges of clean drinking water were largely drawn from economically disadvantaged homes or households hence the need for OGG to place special focus on them during the program.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Education

OGG program in children’s homes and primary schools included training community resource people from schools and local institutions who spearheaded school sanitation and hygiene programs. This work helped to improve access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in schools and help reduced diarrhea and respiratory diseases among schoolchildren. These students also helped as agents of change to reinforce good hygiene and sanitation behaviors at home. Through key local educators OGG’s program empowered both teachers and students to promote important hygiene behaviors.


On behalf of the communities of Urukundo and Kigali in Rwanda OGG would like to thank HSBC for supporting to Fund this program.

From the feedback received on the ground in Rwanda after the distribution of the 252 watebags we have only touched far less than 1% of the families that require this intervention in the country. Hence, there is a great need to fund similar projects particularly in Eastern Rwanda and beyond to effectively reach out to deserving families across the country.

At OGG, our target is to reach at least 200,000 people cumulatively within the East African Region. We therefore require a minimum of 50,000 Waterbags and a one year supply of P&G Purifier of Water packets. This will help support at least 50,000 families across the East African Region. Rwanda, Kenya , Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi are among the areas of focus. Through our collaboration with DayOne Response Inc. and through funding support from HSBC we can reach the above target and ultimately make a significant and memorable impact on health and well-being of thousands of children and families.


Photos of the Waterbag distribution and use in Urukundo and Kigali.

Waterbag Filtration Project

Children wait curiously on the opposite side for the 30 minutes administering and shaking the P&G sachet into the contaminated water.

Opening the P&G Purification of Water Packet.

Emptying the P&G Purification Packet into the Waterbag.

Demonstration of the Waterbag to school children.

The school children were very curious to learn.

WaterDay Bag Filtration

Distribution of the Waterbags

Hanging the Waterbag with the hooks.

The school children were very curious to learn.

Demonstrating how to clean the Waterbag.

Simple Ways To Help The People Next Door…And Around The World

Simple Ways To Help The People Next Door…And Around The World

In recent decades, major advancements in technology have enabled people to be in constant contact with one another, communicating across the globe in seconds. We can watch world news happening in real-time, answer a question instantly, or share an exciting event with our families and friends with just the click of a button.

When a disaster strikes another country, we are instantly aware of it, with social media updates flooding our timelines. When someone is in need, we know about it quickly. We are connected to each other in unique ways never before possible.

Technology offers amazing opportunities to solve some of humanity’s most critical issues, and yet dependence on it hasn’t had such a positive result. Instead, we’ve become more isolated and disconnected at both the local and global level.

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backward.” – Aldous Huxley

Societies are becoming more divided, governments are looking inward for their own solutions, and we’re losing our sense of charitable duty toward each other. We have forgotten what it means to be loving, kind, and generous. In all the social media updates, we’ve forgotten how to be humans who care about each other.

But despite finding ourselves in an environment of ever-increasing apathy and self-centeredness, there are actually a multitude of ways to generate a positive impact through practicing altruism, showing compassion, and most importantly, by taking real action.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Step #1: Look Around

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Before you come up with an elaborate plan to achieve world harmony, take a look at the community you live in and formulate ways that you can make a positive contribution. Before you try to change the world, look at your own neighborhood.

A small effort can quickly grow into a remarkable movement, and by starting at the local level, you’ll establish relationships along the way with like-minded fellow citizens that also want to give something back.

Consider the case of Ryan Hreljac, creator of the Ryan’s Well Foundation, which raises money to drill wells for impoverished communities lacking adequate sources of drinking water. Ryan began his effort to help others as a young student in elementary school by raising $2,000 to build a single well in Uganda. Sixteen years later, he now runs a widely recognized non-profit that works to provide access to clean water in communities across the African continent and elsewhere.

Ryan’s work and the success of his foundation prove that one person, with one idea and the right kind of dedication, can start a movement at the local level that ultimately has a global impact and improves the daily lives of thousands of people.

“I think the important thing when I was a kid was that I recognized that I could try to do something small and get engaged. And even though I didn’t have all the answers and didn’t come from a position of affluence or knowledge …I had the optimism to do something small and that ended up making a big difference.” – Ryan Hreljac (Source)

One of the easiest, most obvious ways to make an immediate difference is through volunteering. Nearly every community has a need for volunteers of all different types. Hospitals usually have opportunities for students to help deliver mail and gifts to patient rooms, pass out trays at mealtimes, or help with tasks like changing sheets and blankets.

Non-profit community centers like homeless shelters or women’s homes need people to contribute with housekeeping, serving food to their residents and helping new occupants adjust and integrate into the facility.

Ministries frequently work side-by-side with shelter groups and your local faith-based organization can assist in finding out exactly what needs your community has and how you can best volunteer.  Beyond that, local police and fire departments need citizen enforcers and volunteer firefighters to keep the peace while public schools and libraries frequently struggle to stay within their budgets and will often take all the help they can get.

Step #2 – Start Raising Funds For The Needy

Fundraising is another great way to help the community and promote global citizenship.  Money can be raised in all kinds of ways and for many different causes and reasons.

For example, you might encourage students to start a local scholarship fund for their peers by collecting donations outside of grocery stores or other businesses. Starting an annual drive for coats, shoes, or general clothing is an excellent way to help others in need and some communities have even started a collection for outdated eyeglasses or loose change.

Donation drives place unwanted items into the hands of people that need them and actually have a positive impact on the environment by keeping those donated items from out of the garbage and the local landfill.

Step #3 – Be A Mentor

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You can use the skills from your experience, education, or job to find ways to teach and mentor within the community. Career professionals might establish community workshops for teaching things like CPR, public safety, literacy, or computer skills.

Teachers and college professors might offer classes for English speakers to learn another language or to teach English to non-native speakers.  Even if you don’t have a degree or special training, you might still be a great communicator that could mentor at-risk children in afterschool programs or participate in parenting or family support groups.

Step #4 – Help Promote Wellness 

The need for public service is driven by the concept of the common good, or what is in the best interest of everyone involved. In recent years, neighborhoods and communities nationwide have struggled with the health and wellness of their populations and the trend has been moving too fast in the wrong direction.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle has immediate and long-term benefits to society and significantly impacts the viability of the population as a whole.

As of 2016, The American Heart Association reports that “childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.” (Source)

What are some simple ways you can help? Try inviting neighbors to participate in group activities that get you more active. Donate your time teaching yoga, strength training, or even martial arts if you’re already embracing a healthy lifestyle.

Consider starting a nutrition education program or neighborhood farming cooperative to help people learn about how to grow and build a diet full of nourishing foods.

Finally, working with city council boards or non-profit entities to provide mobile services like immunization clinics or veterinary care brings access to much-needed services directly to people without the means or transportation to access them. Lack of healthcare, nutrition, and physical exercise are major social problems in modern society and implementing measures to combat them will make a huge and potentially lifelong difference in your local community.

Step #4: Look Globally

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At the worldwide level, it can be difficult to devise ways of making a positive contribution and improving global society but it is possible to find ways of reaching out to both individuals and whole communities.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

People all over the world need someone to talk to. You can start out simply by finding a pen pal that you can converse with via traditional mail, e-mail, or even social media.  Plenty of young people lack access to modern technology and offering them a friendly ear and a means to learn about the world outside of their own can be incredibly rewarding on both sides.

Beyond that, finding ways to communicate online with people on the other side of the world exposes you to different cultures, new information, and charitable causes, helping you develop a more open-minded and global perspective.

Step #5: Connect With Organizations Making A Difference

Fundraising at the national or international scale might seem daunting and like a task better suited for large charities and non-government organizations. The truth is that our modern world of constant connectedness gives individuals the same power to raise awareness campaigns as entities like the Red Cross and United Nations.

Web platforms for crowdsourcing funds (like Kickstarter or GoFundMe) give one person the ability to set a goal and start a movement that anyone can then contribute to. Social media services (like Facebook and Twitter) offer a means to get the word out on a global scale.

These technologies put the fundraising power that was previously reserved for large organizations into the hands of ordinary people who can then accomplish something extraordinary.

If you’re more interested in getting up from the computer to make a more hands-on positive impact, volunteering to work for government groups like The Peace Corps that focus primarily on social and economic development outside the United States would be great for someone that feels passionately about class inequality and equal access to opportunity.

Likewise, if you’re on a mission to minimize the negative impacts of climate change, organizations like Greenpeace or The Nature Conservancy are excellent non-profit volunteer groups.

Finally, if poor access to healthcare and lack of medicine in other parts of the world drives your desire to give back, consider supporting charitable professional associations like Doctors without Borders (a.k.a. Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF) and UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Joining a humanitarian or peacekeeping organization can be an extremely fulfilling way of participating in important international efforts while exercising responsible global citizenship.


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Regardless of how you choose to engage in activism, participation in local and national elections by exercising your right to vote is, by far, the most effective way to shift national and international policy and each individual has a civil obligation to participate in the democratic process.

As of the 2016 American election, just over half of eligible Americans participated in voting and the United States ranks twenty-eighth on the list of thirty-five member nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (Source) We, as local residents, as national citizens, or as global humanity, don’t deserve positive change if we aren’t also willing to embrace the democratic process alongside social activism and participate in electing the right leaders for effective social evolution.

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for the injury.” – John Stuart Mill

Why Don’t The Rich Give More? Here’s Why…

Why Don’t The Rich Give More? Here’s Why…

It’s ironic, really. You’d think that millionaires and billionaires would be some of the most generous people on the planet. After all, they could literally withdraw all their money from the bank and use it to insulate the walls of their palatial mansions. They could heat their houses by lighting bales of bills on fire.

But the crazy thing is that compared to the rest of the population, the super wealthy give away a smaller proportion of their income. In Britain, the uber rich can secure a spot in the top 100 givers spot by donating a miniscule 1.08% of their income.

Transporting these numbers into the U.S., it would mean that average American could have those bragging rights by giving about $400 to charity. That’s hilarious in a heart-breaking sort of way.

The Atlantic puts it this way:

One of the most surprising, and perhaps confounding, facts of charity in America is that the people who can least afford to give are the ones who donate the greatest percentage of their income. In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those with earnings in the top 20 percent—contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid—those in the bottom 20 percent—donated 3.2 percent of their income. The relative generosity of lower-income Americans is accentuated by the fact that, unlike middle-class and wealthy donors, most of them cannot take advantage of the charitable tax deduction, because they do not itemize deductions on their income-tax returns.

Of course, this raises one, somewhat huge question: WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?

There is a level of absurdity to the whole thing. If anyone can afford to part with some cash, it’s the men and women who don’t think twice about dropping multiple millions on a yacht of Noahic proportions. So what’s the issue here? Why is it so difficult to separate the wealthy from their money?

In this post, we’re going to lay out 7 reasons why the rich don’t give more. By the end, you’ll probably go one of two directions:

  1. Outrage
  2. Insight into how to approach the wealthy for donations

#1 – Rich People Don’t Give More Because They Plan To Give Later

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Let’s start with the best reason the rich aren’t giving more now: they have plans to give a lot later. A number of the wealthiest individuals in the world – Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg – have pledged to give a gargantuan amount of wealth over the course of their lifetimes.

5 Hour Energy creator (and multi-gazillionaire) Manoj Bhargava has said that he’s going to give away at least 90% of his fortune to charity. Sara Blakely, creator of Spanx, has hopped aboard The Giving Pledge, in which the rich pledge to give away 99% of their wealth.

So before you begin gnashing your teeth and foaming at the mouth, at least give credit to those individuals who have a plan to donate huge amounts.

#2 – The Rich Don’t Like Being Bothered

Now on to some of the less pleasant reasons why the wealthy tend to be tightfisted Scrooges. The simple truth is they often don’t want to be bothered. They’ve got things to do, people to see, small corporations to crush. They are empire runners, making deals, running for president, selling huge amounts of stock.

Giving away massive amounts of money can be time consuming. There are tax options to consider and causes to research. Those wealthy magnates don’t want to funnel cash to some guy with an elaborate Ponzi/pyramid scheme. Although their donations could potentially save millions of lives…it simply takes too much time.

Now, to be fair, there are serious challenges in donating large volumes of cash. It’s an understandable challenge. Not all rich people fall prey to this trap, as you’ll see below.

#3 – The Rich Feel Overwhelmed By Choices

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There are an enormous amount of options when it comes to charitable donations. And let’s be honest: many of them aren’t exactly subtle when asking for donations. The hyper-wealthy are often bombarded by organizations asking them to “make a one-time donation”.

Additionally, it can be challenging finding an organization that aligns with their values. As Google’s Craig Silverstein said:

The advice I got as I embarked on giving was: Focus on something you’re passionate about. There are so many worthy causes, but none that jumped out at me; how could I choose? I was paralyzed by too many options.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as altruistic as Silverstein, who is donating 70% of his fortune to women’s education. Many of the rich are more interested in acquiring more houses, Lamborghinis, and hot tubs than in saving the world.

#4 – The Rich Don’t Want To Be Hassled

It’s amazing how many long lost relatives come out of the woodwork when you become rich. That second uncle’s brother Larry and the fifth cousin three times removed. When you make money, you become a target for money grubbers. And, as even us mortals know, it’s tough to say no to family and friends.

Psychologist Moira Summers compares sudden riches to announcing that you like steak…and having someone deliver 200 cattle to your door. She says:

That was very sweet, but what the hell do you do with 200 steer? You need to know how to deal with them and that’s very different than eating a steak.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of this is that it can desensitize the rich to legitimate needs.

Some people, such as some of the billionaires mentioned above, are willing to endure the hassle in order to find worthwhile causes, while others simply don’t want to deal with.

#5 – Rich People Are Nervous About Going Broke

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Consider the situation some of the rich find themselves in. They may have once been relatively poor, just trying to make ends meet. Thanks to their hard work and smart moves, they’ve acquired a huge amount of wealth. But in the back of their minds, they always remember what it’s like to not have money. On top of this, there are countless stories of rich people suddenly losing it all when the market crashes or a business deal goes South.

And so they’re uncomfortable with the idea of giving up their hard earned money. They’re worried about something going wrong. About everything going to pieces. About all their hard work suddenly vanishing, like that guy who sells you a lemon used car then never returns your calls. It’s a legitimate, understandable response.

Of course, there are others who don’t have that excuse, either because they’ve inherited huge sums of money or have built up so much wealth there’s no possibility of it going up in smoke.

#6 – Rich People Aren’t Exposed To Much Need

When you’re traveling in private luxury jets and staying at elite resorts, you’re not going to see much poverty or need. You won’t rub shoulders with a struggling family on the 18th hole of the golf course, and you won’t encounter developing world poverty as you sit down to a massive steak dinner.

One of the reasons the rich don’t give as much to the needy is that they don’t see the needy as much. Ken Stern wrote in The Atlantic:

Wealthy people who lived in homogeneously affluent areas—areas where more than 40 percent of households earned at least $200,000 a year—were less generous than comparably wealthy people who lived in more socioeconomically diverse surroundings. It seems that insulation from people in need may dampen the charitable impulse.

Implications For Nonprofits and Charities

The above reasons present some interesting lessons for nonprofits and charities. First, they need to be sensitive to the circumstances a wealthy person is in. Are they newly wealthy or well-established? If they’re newly wealthy, they’re probably being bombarded with requests for money and may not be open to helping.

Second, nonprofits and charities need to be aware of plans already in place. As noted, numerous rich individuals already have solid plans for donating a huge amount of their wealth. Their commitment to these plans will, at times, preclude them from donating to other causes.

Finally, the wealthy need to be sold on a cause they truly care about. When you combine their insulation from need and the overwhelming number of options available to them, it’s easy for them to tune you out. To break through, you need to put something in front of them that really matters.


It needs to be stated that, even though the rich may not give as much percentage wise, many still do contribute huge sums to crucial causes. Often times, their lack of giving can be tied to legitimate excuses rather than pure selfishness.

That being said, let’s hope that more wealthy individuals follow the examples of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

5 Reasons why donations to the poor may bring bad results!

5 Reasons why donations to the poor may bring bad results!

Does donating to poor countries actually help? Keep in mind there is a big difference between disaster response and longer term, more effective and sustainable development.  Much of the time outside assistance and donations do not have much impact and in the long term, can be harmful.

When people see images of impoverished countries and situation, our first thought is, I should donate something.

This is noble  and shouldn’t be dismissed. However, many people fail to realize that donating to the poor often makes them more poor. It creates a vicious, unintended cycle.

This isn’t an anecdotal argument either. More and more research is showing that donations have long term consequences that end up hurting more than helping.

In this post, we’re going to lay out five reasons why donating to the poor often hurts more than it helps, and then pose a possible solution. Our goal is to convince you that there is a better way.

Reason #1: The Communities Can’t Sustain The Things Donated To Them


It’s an idea that sounds great on paper and makes for ovation-garnering speeches. Go into an impoverished community, help them create life-giving resources (like a well), and then let the community reap the benefits.

It sounds so noble. Enlightened. The wealthy westerners coming into rescue the poor and the impoverished who can’t survive on their own. Knights in shining armor delivering those imprisoned by their own poverty.

This mentality is incredibly shortsighted and even insulting to the recipients of that charity.

It’s shortsighted because it fails to consider one massive problem: how will impoverished communities continue to support and maintain the created resources? A drilled well may function effectively for several years, but it won’t be long before it starts to break down.

Where will they get the parts to repair it? Will they have the necessary technical expertise to maintain the well? These aren’t hypothetical questions.

This does not mean you should do nothing. But it does mean that any solution must involve, at the minimum, the following components: time, education, partnership, a champion, and accountability.

As Jamie Skinner comments:

There is no point an external agency coming in, putting in a drill-hole and then passing it over to the local community if they can’t afford to maintain it over the next 10 or 20 years. There needs to be a proper assessment of just how much local people are able to finance these water points. It’s not enough to just drill and walk away.

What happens if this kind of support is not offered? Annie Kelly notes:

In 2007, before the African Medical and Research Foundation and Farm-Africa began their development work in Katine, worms were found in the polluted water supply at the village of Abia, next to the Emuru swamp. A badly constructed and poorly maintained shallow well, dug by a charity, was full of soil and animal faeces and was making local people sick.

That well that you helped dig on your church mission trip? How are they going to maintain that? Are you going back every three months to fix it? Are you going to stay in constant contact to make sure they always have the supplies they need? Those parts are probably only available in other countries, so how in the world are you going to get them to those who need them?

It’s easy to feel good about yourself but you probably just made things worse.

Reason #2: It’s Misguided And Doesn’t Solve The Problem


Too often, remedies and relief are donated without considering whether they solve the problem. Take water disinfection treatments. Many organizations and donors assume that supplying water treatments is an effective solution for polluted water.

And so they distribute water disinfectants in great number, feeling good about how they are fixing the problem.

But they’re NOT necessarily fixing the problem. In fact, there is debate over whether some of (not all) these disinfectants actually produce real, lasting change.

As microbiologist Paul Hunter notes:

Disinfection household water treatments don’t seem to have any public health benefit. I’d be more than happy to change my mind if someone comes up with some good evidence, but it would have to be a large double-blinded study.

In other words, a solution that is taken as gospel by many organizations may not add much benefit at all to impoverished communities.

Don’t assume that every solution is equally good. Sure, you paid for some malaria nets to be given to a village. Is that what they need? Will that solve the most pressing problems they have? It’s easy to feel good about yourself for donating something, but you may be trying to solve the wrong problem.

Reason #3: The Solutions Aren’t Fully Developed


More and more, tech companies are trying to step into underdeveloped countries and offer solutions that will “solve” all their problems. They distribute tablets and apps and internet kiosks, believing that these will help people elevate themselves out of poverty.

And while this is a noble notion, it fails the majority of the time. Why? Because the tech companies haven’t fully developed the solutions in conjunction with local governments and businesses. If the underlying infrastructure isn’t in place, these tech solutions are like a band aid on a cannon ball wound. They may stop the bleeding for a few minutes, but they don’t solve the problem.

One of the very first learnings a donor agency or new volunteer learns is that poverty issues are never in isolation. Everything is connected, integrated, and often, complex.  For example, lack of adequate income is tied to lack of education, poor infrastructure, public policy, access to capital, inferior quality water which means poor health, community loyalties, and on and on. Every initiative needs to be evaluated in terms of the multiple relationships between other issues.

Speaking of tech companies attempting to “upgrade” India, Eric Bellman writes:

A $40 tablet that was supposed to revolutionize education has not been getting the government orders it expected. The national networks of Internet kiosks that were supposed to empower farmers have largely shut down. The $2,000 Tata Nano minicar that was supposed to allow millions of people upgrade from the dangerous family motorcycle was not popular and anti-rape apps which were supposed to use mapping and automatic SMS to protect women were never connected to the country’s police force.

You simply can’t put high-tech equipment into a country that doesn’t have the infrastructure for it. It would be like giving the Pilgrims automatic machine guns or airplanes. All chaos would break loose.

Tech nonprofits are big these days. You donate some money and they import computers into impoverished countries. But can those computers even be used, or are they going to collect dust in a warehouse? Can the country even handle this type of computer? Can it be hooked up to the internet? This is a ready, fire, aim strategy that usually hits the wrong target.

Reason #4: Donors Don’t Have A Sustainable Plan


Too often, donors come into help without any real plan for how to sustain things after they’ve left. They assume that their work is done once they’ve implemented the initial solution, not realizing that without a plan for the future things will quickly fall apart.

Too often the support structures for success are not even considered whether it be government policies, ongoing encouragement, mentoring, or something as simple as adequate financial support.  Many of us live in the fantasy world that people who have lived their entire life surviving the harsh reality of poverty, doing what it takes to live with so little, suddenly can embrace and understand the values and resources that make the new intervention possible.

A prime example of this is World Bank’s billion dollar effort to bring improved water access to the country of Tanzania. While it was certainly a noble goal, it generated a stunning lack of success.

The Global Post reports:

In 2007 [before the project], only 54 percent of Tanzanians had access to what is called an improved water source — a water point, like a well or water pump, that is protected from contamination. By 2012, that figure had actually decreased to 53 percent, according to the latest available World Bank Data. Coupled with Tanzania’s rising population, 3.5 million more Tanzanians lacked access to improved water than did before the project began.

The problem? The lack of a sustainable plan. Over time, the water sources begin to fail and become polluted, and the local communities didn’t have the finances or resources to fix them. Suddenly, the communities are worse off than when they started.

Herbert Kashililah makes this damning statement: “If I am from the World Bank, it is easier to count new projects than try to ensure people are running their own systems.”

A problem is not a problem to be addressed by good hearted outsiders unless identified and owned by the local population, and there are champions, local people who are committed, to work and address it.

To put it into practical terms, maybe you financed a cow for a family through a charity. That’s great, but what will that cow actually do for the family? Do they even have the land necessary to pasture it? How will they afford the food? Do the people even know what’s required to raise a cow?

Reason #5: It Kills Local Economies


Several years ago, Jason Sadler had the idea to collect and donate 1 million t-shirts to Africa. Now, besides obvious questions like, “Is that what they really need?” Sadler failed to consider one enormous factor: the impact on the local economy.

What so many donors fail to realize is that their giving can actually kill a local business.

Disaster response efforts especially must be careful about destroying local businesses.  It would be so much wiser to further develop the capacity of local entrepreneurs to meet the local needs. This is also true when hunger is prevalent. Buy local food first, create initiatives to produce more, purchase relief supplies locally. Organizations need to deeply consider the economic impact of their actions. Will this help or hurt the economy? Will it create or kill jobs? Will it ultimately provide self-generated income for the residents? A failure to weigh these things results in the poor becoming poorer.

Let’s say an individual had a thriving t-shirt business. He makes his livelihood and supports his family by making and selling t-shirts. What happens when a million shirts are suddenly dropped into his country? No one will buy from him. Why would they? They can get shirts for free. Suddenly the t-shirt economy is destroyed and the business goes under.  What happens when the donated t-shirts wear out?  There is no local business to fill the void and another donation is needed; dependency is created.  All this because of the well-intentioned efforts of a donor.

The Solution?

Business Connect embraces the concept that self-sustaining business solutions will have more longer lasting impact for the alleviation of poverty than a thousand give away products. Every donation we receive or facilitate goes through a local entrepreneur, who then gets a commission of the sale. That entrepreneur is then there to support the product for its lifespan, including maintenance and parts.

By empowering entrepreneurs, we are lifting an entire economy and helping build strong local businesses where green, life-improving products can be purchased.  In the process we pay duties and the fees so that the entire economy is boosted.

This is our mission. We’re passionate about helping local communities thrive, rather than simply dropping supplies on them. It’s simply a better way.

Water Project in San Luis Peru

Water Project in San Luis Peru

With the El Nino rains and floods that hit Peru earlier this year, one of the photos that became symbolic of the severity of the situation was taken in the village of San Luis of the Pacora district in northern Peru.  Rains caused the Leche River to overflow, washing away bridges, roads, and houses.  The inhabitants of San Luis became landlocked, separating them from food and drinking water.  In the photo a military helicopter brings rations and evacuates the children, mothers, and elderly.


After the floods, the people started rebuilding but their water sources had become muddy and contaminated.  With the help of Village Water Filters donated to Business Connect and DuraBio, the people are now able to produce their own potable water.  We worked with Padre Fidel Purizaca of the San Pablo parish who is a respected man of the community.  He helped identify the families that would benefit most from the filters.  Also he  suggested installing filters in communal houses of villages along the river to ensure that these vulnerable communities always have access to clean drinking water.  The photographs below show this story.


Temporary housing in San Luis



Unloading the buckets and filters



Julius demonstrates how to prepare the buckets



Community members join in



Buckets being distributed to the community



Woman trying her first glass of filtered water



Karina demonstrating how to use and clean the filters



First family showing their bucket and filter


Happy villagers with their new access to clean drinking water

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