RECIPE FOR HOPE: Description of the Model

 

I. Introduction

 

Poverty in third world countries is generational, socially expected, and wide spread.  It is seen by many as a necessary and fixed condition of life there.

 

How, dear reader, could anyone start to change that?  By an interested person asking “Field Agents”—people who know the community well (such as school teachers, business people, lawyers, bankers. etc.—to suggest names of  people from poverty areas who have that “special spark” of insight, enthusiasm, and determination, who could become entrepreneurs if given the chance.  Then that interested person would select a very small area (maybe as little as 200 to 600 people) in which to target their efforts. They would interview the candidates recommended by the Field Agents, and select the ones about 24 to begin the Entrepreneurial Training.  They would conduct the 6 week ends of training using the training syllabus prepared by Dr. Epps (ph. D).

After training, and with the help of local business coaches, the trainees would set to work to see what that area needed and start a, very little at first, for-profit business to fill that need. Perhaps several tiny businesses will be started. Micro investments would come from the interested person who conducted the training or from another source they develop.  Initial investments typically are from $200 to $600 USA dollars.  When success is demonstrated, larger investments can be made.  If workers are needed, they  would use the unskilled labor of locals rather than fancy expensive machines that increase start-up costs and eliminate people jobs.   This would raise the standard of living in two ways: 1) by providing the item or service that fills the need and 2) by providing some jobs for locals.  It would increase the number of jobs and that in turn would increase money available to spend.  It is also about teaching families in the target area how to use enhanced farming/gardening methods so they can grow enough food to feed themselves and have extra to sell.  If improving the standard of living in even one small target area intrigues you, read more.

 

Here is the basic question:  How do you orchestrate an economy to become a strong economy capable of providing a good standard of living?  Eventually it boils down to: focus on a target area, survey existing conditions, then develop available resources, focus on unskilled local labor, design products and services from those resources, and promote wide spread acceptance, use, and sale of them.   Perhaps demand can be created in markets beyond the boundaries of the target area.  Essentially, discover where there is a need, make products and services to fill those needs from resources and labor at hand and create a market demand for them. 

 

Entrepreneurs should be encouraged to start microbusinesses.  Lenders should grant them micro credit. Learning the skills to feed one’s family by using sustainable methods of farming/gardening that yield a huge harvest on very small spaces eliminates a lot of hunger. Training the jobless in construction, home building, car and motorcycle repair, and computer trades is a winner too.

A few supportive investors will be needed along with coaching from successful business people, perhaps from outside the country, with experience in the same production activity. Someone with experience  is needed to obtain government permits, licenses and other matters of government compliance.  This cannot be overlooked.  We need some friends in government, or with political clout, who support the project.  They can lessen the effect of government interference and possibly even get its support.  I was pondering these and related issues when I started reading War Front To Store Front: Americans Rebuilding Trust And Hope In Nations Under Fire, 2014, by Paul Brinkley.   See my experience below.

2. My “Ah Ha!” Moment

 

I had been reading Paul Brinkley’s, War Front To Store Front …., 2014, on and off for several days.  At one point, my jaw dropped open; I laid down the book and just stared out the window!  “Oh Dear God!”  I waited, as if stunned, for the words to form in my throat to express the earth shattering idea that had, for the first time ever, just flooded into my mind … “Oh my Goodness!  This means we don’t have to have poverty anymore!!  We can be doing this all over the world!  Brinkley did it in Iraq—we can do it in other countries too!  Developing countries no longer need to have poverty!”  
 
I thought, “Pick a poor country, send in a team as explained by Brinkley, and three million dollars for seed money.  Let them do what they do!  In 3 to 5 years, if proper conditions are met, the once poverty laden country will be a thriving economic unit!”  A big light had gone off in my head that would not go away!  I knew this would be a marked moment for the remainder of my life.  A large part of the human family’s suffering could be relieved.  And I had just glimpsed how it could be done.
 
I had already read about Dr. Muhamad Yunus’ exciting work founding Grameen bank and using peer group pressure and support rather than material collateral to secure loans.  I knew they had a percentage rate of repayment in the high nineties.  They were successfully allowing the very poor to have access to credit—and it was uplifting lives.
 
I had also read Dr. Paul Polak’s work on making profitable businesses work for the poor so they could lift themselves out of the dollar or two a day class and improve their standard of living. Small plot farmers, who make up 1/3 of the world’s population, were learning sustainable methods that earned them more money.  Dr. Polak made a convincing argument that you can not donate poor people out of poverty.  Entrepreneurial spirit at work in free markets is the way to help the poor get out of poverty!   Poor people will buy affordable equipment.  They will work to earn more money for their families if they can see that it will pay off for them.  
 
But in my personal experience, it was not until I read what Mr. Paul Brinkley did in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006-2013, and wrote about in his book, War Front To Store Front,  that it occurred to me: we really do not have to have poverty!  There actually is a very real way to end it.  We just have to have the will to do it.  Oh my Goodness …the human family has reason to hope!
 
In the paragraphs ahead you will be introduced to the “Recipe For Hope” model that builds on Brinkley’s work and offers two models for poverty reduction.  One model is a way that local business people in poverty ridden countries can select target areas and apply the “Recipe For Hope” model to measurably change the standard of living in the target area.  Then it can be done in other target areas in their country, and finally, the model can be applied throughout an entire country. The second model is now my favorite one.  ENTRPRENEUR DISCOVERY PROGRAM. It goes to poor people directly and teaches them in a 6 week end training program how to become an entrepreneur.  Then it makes small investments in them to get them started.
 
The world really can change and widespread generational and socially accepted poverty can become a thing of the past.  What is needed is compassionate determination and leadership, political will, and savvy application of established economic principles. By applying the Recipe For Hope model, we can take the human family and go where humanity has never gone before—to a place where widespread poverty does not exist.

3. Goal, End Poverty (80%)

The goal is to End Poverty (ultimately ending at least 80% or more of it) by creating the economic conditions that enable people to have more money to spend and thereby move out of poverty into the working class. 

The four poverty-ending activities of the model are: 

 

  1. Macro activity focuses on investment, job creation, and market analysis/demand creation. 

  2. Microbusiness activity aims to assist people with entrepreneurial spirit to start microbusinesses.  

  3. Sustainable Growing Methods activity focuses on small plot farming and urban gardening.

  4. Skills Training activity focuses on building trades, car and motorcycle repair, and computers.

The greater goal is to end poverty in the target area by application of these 4 activities.  The lesser goal is for the participating business owners to earn a profit as they invigorate the target area’s economy.  They are not just planners—they are doers!  The metrics they establish will let them know when they have reached the goal of ending 80% or more of the poverty that existed in the target area when they did the initial survey.
 
It is nearly impossible to end ALL poverty.  For measuring a number is needed.  A reduction of “80% or more of the existing poverty” is operationally defined in the Recipe For Hope model as “ending poverty.”  Ideally more will be ended, but a reduction of 80% justifies declaring the model valid.

4. The Poor and Geopolitics 

 

The poor tend be uneducated.  They often have little stake in the current economic-political system because they are not reaping any of its rewards.  They feel they are “outside” of the system.  They may be unaccustomed to critical thinking and objective political analysis.  This makes them prey to, or at least easy to be misled and persuaded by persons of ill intent.  If the system provides them employment and supports having adequate money and food to live above and beyond poverty, they will be vested in the system and want to preserve it.  They will not be so likely to join those who want to tear down the system.  This alone makes it worthwhile for leaders at all levels in poor countries to give serious thought to ending poverty and promoting success for most of the citizens.

5. The Four Activities

The Recipe For Hope model to end poverty is comprehensive.  It establishes all four activities in one target area at the same time; macro business, microbusiness enterprises, and sustainable farming/growing methods, and skills training — four powerful approaches to end poverty.  The “top” “middle” and “bottom” of the economic ladder are addressed simultaneously along with relevant job training. 

 

1) Macro 

 

The Macro activity focuses on jobs, investment, new and expanding markets and of course larger scale production of goods and services in demand by world and local markets.  This is more or less modeled after Paul Brinkley’s approach used in Iraq and Afghanistan—where he was responsible for putting thousands back to work.  Those working in this activity will develop the skills for determining, based on physical and human resources, 1) WHAT is in demand on the world and local market and 2) HOW to produce and deliver products and services in a cost effective manner.     

 

2) Microbusiness 

 

The Microbusiness activity focuses on encouraging and assisting people with entrepreneurial skills to start micro businesses.  An example is selling beauty products from a corner of a room or the porch of their house. Others may sell food, clothes, operate a moto taxi, or raise chickens.  There are several at least partially relevant approaches to learn from:  Heifer International, Women Helping Women, Kiva loans, Kickstarter funding, and Grameen Bank.  And there is the Dr. Epps’ Entrepreneur Discovery Program which is the focus of this article. 
 
Profit generating entrepreneurs are encouraged to expand their businesses and are encouraged to use internet crowd funding to expand their operations after they are established. 

 

3) Sustainable Farming/Gardening Methods 

 

Sustainable Farming/Gardening Methods (Small plot farming and urban gardening) activity focuses on those with a strong desire to feed their families, and sell any extra harvest, with healthy food at a fraction of the cost of store bought food.  They are willing to learn how to tend plants and small animals.  They want to develop their wealth themselves, by not having to pay others for what most people spend a big portion of their incomes to obtain.  This is true for those in the city and in the country. They learn how to produce food, tend small livestock, and preserve food they produce.  Some may want to build their own small house out of natural materials.  Some actual “Urban Homesteads” exist on a small city lot in a large city and offer a model for what can be done.  Others are the growing food using “Urban Gardening”, on tiny pieces of ground or public property by roadways, etc., overlooked because they are so small.  
 
Internet searches for “Urban Gardening” yield helpful examples.  Also, go to the blog of Dr. Owen Geiger  and use the search function to find “urban gardens” and “urban homesteads” for helpful how-to information.  Initially intense training will be needed for inexperienced people to learn the skills associated with sustainable growing methods to grow and harvest what the earth has to offer.  Less training will be needed for those already working small plot farms.  Sustainable methods (permaculture), in addition to being sustainable, are less work and yield healthier foods (no pesticides) and larger harvests.  They will learn how to increase water supply for crops, spend less time pulling weeds and the “how-to”s of water saving and increasing production with highly effective drip irrigation.  They will learn the importance of healthy soil or mulch for growing abundant harvests.  Everyone can learn to do this, even if all they have is a roof top or very small plot of ground to plant. 

   

4) Skills Training

 

Training for jobs: focuses on setting up training in the building trades, car and motorcycle repair, and computer literacy and mastery and even repair.  In order to make money in today’s world, one needs to be able to use a computer.  Also, the world needs more brick and block-layers, plumbers, carpenters, motorcycle mechanics, and electricians—everything in the building trades and mechanical repair that are used in third world countries. Training in the areas of building trades and in computers will be needed and should be encouraged as jobs for such are available.  The needs will vary from one area to another.

These are some ways, dear reader, in which the dream can become the reality.  If it calls to you, please respond.

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2018 Recipe For Hope - Dr. Jerry Dean Epps - all rights reserved