John and Judy Craig began funding project work in Africa in 2005, and started their non-profit organization Eliminate Poverty Now (EPN) five years later in 2010. The organization’s mission is to provide economic and educational opportunity to hard-working people in Africa – especially women – so they can lift themselves out of extreme poverty.
Eliminate Poverty Now does a range of work, including projects that enable participants to generate increased income, vocational training, and empowerment through education for adults and children. EPN focuses on investing at the local level by providing funds for projects that address local needs as identified by the communities themselves. Partnership is also a huge part of Eliminate Poverty Now’s work and success; EPN partners with outstanding people, such as Professor Dov Pasternak and Father Godfrey Nzamujo, who have devoted their lives to promoting economic development through agriculture.
Some of Eliminate Poverty Now’s projects include the following:
· The Songhai Women’s Capital Fund in Benin, which enables women graduates of the Songhai Centre to become agricultural entrepreneurs and role models for what talented women can do when given the opportunity.
· Farmers of the Future in Niger changes how people think about and practice agriculture in rural areas.
· A modern grain warehouse with a capacity of 200 metric tonnes in Ruhiira, Uganda enables local farmers to safely store their crops and connect to local markets.
· Table Banking in Kenya is a project that enhances the success of women participating in Joywo’s table banking program through a combination of training and technical support.
John Craig sums up the reason for which Eliminate Poverty Now does what it does for people in Africa. He says, “Attitudes towards agriculture in Africa have come full cycle. Twenty or thirty years ago, the prevailing wisdom was that it’s folly for farmers in Africa to compete with the mega-producers of Asia, Europe and the United States. Today, everyone is looking for ways to boost local sourcing of food; Africa should be food self-sufficient. The question is not whether Africa has the potential to dramatically increase food production; it’s whether the small, rural farmer will have a chance to benefit. The obstacles they face are well known: small plots, poor soil, limited access to markets and credit, the vagaries of weather, etc. But if they can utilize more intensive farming methods and shift to higher-value crops, the benefits are huge. They can escape the poverty of subsistence farming and address the challenges of hunger and malnutrition. We don’t believe there’s a simple answer or single strategy to achieve the goal. That’s why we fund a range of projects and a variety of approaches.”