Opportunity for the Landless Poor: Reflections from Burundi

Empowering the world’s most poor with opportunity and hope

Without land, education, or job opportunities, the world’s most poor face desperate lives of indignity, hunger, and early death. Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries with nearly 75% of the population living below the poverty line. Ninety percent of the population of Burundi rely on agriculture and small scale farming to survive. For those who don’t have land, the challenges are immense.

Jeanine is a mother of five. For much of her life she’s relied relied on donations and the minimal income her husband earns from occasional, casual labor. Jeanine couldn’t afford food or clothing for her children, and her kids were unable to attend school without tuition fees. Due to her tattered clothing, Jeanine felt uncomfortable in social settings and had a hard time fitting in anywhere.

The Journey from Dependence to Dignity

When a friend invited her to join a savings and loan group at the local church, Jeanine was unsure, but decided to give it a try. After receiving lessons on how to start and manage a small business, Jeanine received a loan of $12 from her group.

Twelve dollars may not sound like a lot, but it made a huge difference for Jeanine and her family. With the advice of her group’s leaders, Jeanine used the money to hire a cassava field and began to sell cassava bread at a local market. After six months, she had saved enough from her business to buy her own field. Jeanine was also able to make significant improvements in her family’s living situation.

Opportunity for the landless poor in Burundi

Partnering for Development to help the Landless Poor

According to the local facilitator, “Now Jeanine lives in a house made of sheet metal. She is able to pay school fees for her children, and the family has something to eat without any problems.”

Today Jeanine is very active in her church. She has experienced acceptance and love and is proud of her family and her business. According to a local leader, Jeanine “has changed her behavior in a remarkable way. She could not be with others before, due to the lack of clothes. But now she wears proper dress and feels no shame to meet others. Her spiritual development and lifestyle towards her family has stimulated others in the neighborhood to join this program.”

When you partner with Five Talents, you help women like Jeanine and their families to escape extreme poverty and build a brighter future. Join Five Talents today and make a difference for the world’s most poor.

Photos from top: A Five Talents entrepreneur in central Burundi showcases her basket of cassava, by Ross Oscar Knight. Below, Jeanine wraps boiled cassava in banana leaves as she begins to prepare cassava bread.