Profiling Fundación Paraguaya: Innovations in Poverty Alleviation

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SEATTLE — For anti-poverty movements in developing countries around the world today, the Fundación Paraguaya is a cradle for innovation in poverty alleviation. Founded in 1985, Fundación Paraguaya is now a world leader in poverty alleviation innovations thanks to four programs:

  1. Micro-financing
  2. Entrepreneurial education
  3. Creation of financially self-sustainable farming high schools
  4. Taking the school model to the rest of the world.

While its primary focus was originally to tackle poverty in Paraguay, Fundación Paraguaya has become a model for all developing countries, and is hoping to replicate its entrepreneurial education programs in 125 countries via a network of 2,500 organizations. Fundación Paraguaya has already introduced its self-sufficient school model to a dozen countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. The Fundación’s goal is to bring its model to 50 countries and 50 schools by 2017.

The Fundación aims not just to alleviate poverty in the developing world but to eliminate it completely, with plans to reach that goal largely by using a new tool, the Poverty Stoplight. This innovation in poverty elimination uses a visual survey app from Hewlett-Packard that can run on a tablet or smartphone.

Using the Poverty Stoplight, families can take a survey that will enable them to draw their own personal poverty map based on what the Fundación has identified as the six dimensions of poverty: income and employment, health and environment, housing and infrastructure, education and culture, organization and participation and interiority and motivation. Once the family has mapped where it is on each poverty dimension, it can create and then implement plans to change, utilizing existing resources in the community.

The Fundación set an objective to help its clients in Paraguay double their incomes, an increase of about $120 per month. More than two-thirds of participants exceeded this objective in less than one year. Overall, in its first three years the program in Paraguay improved the lives of 18,000 families, or 92,000 people.

This latest in Fundacion Paraguaya’ s innovations in poverty alleviation is now being used in 18 other countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The Fundación has been honored with numerous international awards for its poverty-alleviation leadership, including:

  • The Nestle Prize in Creating Shared Value
  • The Wise Award from the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development
  • The International Templeton Freedom Award for Social Entrepreneurship
  • The Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award from the Schwab Foundation
  • The Global Development Network Award for the most innovative development project
  • The Clinton Global Initiative Award for creating and implementing innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

As these awards attest, Fundación Paraguaya can truly be said to be a cradle for innovations in poverty alleviation across the globe.

Robert Cornet

Photo: Flickr

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