Local Economies

Weavers in Santo Domingo Xenacoj trained on the foot-loom, which allows women to fulfill high-volume orders.

Weavers in Santo Domingo Xenacoj trained on the foot-loom, which allows women to fulfill high-volume orders.

Poverty: More Than a Lack of Income

Economic development is a key part of IDEX’s poverty alleviation strategy. Yet poverty is not just a lack of income. It is a lack of resources, opportunities and skills. It is being deprived of basic rights that limit the power to ensure adequate income, education and healthcare.

There is no question that developing income is a basic piece of the solution. But IDEX’s experience has shown us that strategies that recognize poverty as more complex than just income are essential to ending poverty.

Chronic poverty often leads to a narrow view of one’s ability to create change.

Beyond material poverty, the poor typically have poor quality land (if they own land), limited rights for women, widespread illiteracy and a near absence of business infrastructure beyond agriculture. Chronic poverty often leads to a narrow view of one’s ability to create change. Some cultural traditions compound the problem and ensure that women and other groups have limited, if any, economic or political roles.

Skills Building and Loans

To challenge this, IDEX provides strategic investments in skills building and loans that target the people in greatest need of support. Men and women are trained to get maximum use of the land or other resources and to preserve their precious assets. Nothing is handed out.

Part of building wealth is gaining access to affordable credit. Another is to help groups of people forge a habit of savings, which is usually difficult individually when basic needs consistently go unmet. Group savings can then be given as loans to community members for income-generation activities. Members also develop financial and management skills. This, in turn, promotes ownership and community involvement in village level banking.

Building Local Wealth and Knowledge

As the principle asset for most is land, training focuses on organic agriculture that leads to improved yields, better quality vegetables, lowered costs, and good management of land, water, and seeds.

Communities supported by IDEX are successfully building wealth in their communities. They are also learning how to restore soil that has been destroyed by chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and developing food sovereignty. Along the way, they are building local leadership – especially among women – and broader community involvement in their initiatives.

Read more about IDEX’s work on local economies on our blog.