Livelihoods & Financial Empowerment

In order to break the cycle of poverty, we need to improve livelihood options, security, and outcomes.

How can we help communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty?

Our livelihoods programs address some of the underlying problems experienced by people trying to earn a living while also dealing  with the challenges and setbacks of extreme poverty.

Concern’s aim is to help people gain increased control over their natural resources and gain the skills and  knowledge they need to work. We provide small-scale credit to invest in business development and train people in vocational skills that create employment opportunities. We also work with communities to improve the productivity and nutritional value of crops using practices that help mitigate against the impact of climate change.

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How We Do It

Social Protection and Support

Emergencies like COVID-19 and conflict can have disproportionate impact on communities with more people and fewer resources. For those whose livelihoods are sustained through informal labor, a lockdown means no income. For others who have to leave everything behind in order to reach safety in a refugee or displacement camp, even those who had formal work at home may struggle to make ends meet without social protections like unemployment insurance.

We support and guide the establishment community-focused groups like Village Savings and Loans (see Our Work in Action, below) and Self-Help Groups, which can serve as social protection for those otherwise left unprotected. We also distribute cash—rather than goods—directly to those who need it, both as a short-term solution and a long-term investment. Learn more about our cash transfers work below.

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Graduation to Economic Productivity

More often than not, the people we work with already have jobs, but still struggle to become economically productive. They have no margin for error, no opportunity to save, and no insurance.

Time and again, the most effective poverty reduction methods are less about aid and more about enabling. We work with communities to find families who would most benefit from 14-month package of support that includes monthly cash transfers to meet basic needs, business skills training, and general coaching and advice. We also provide grants to fund income generation activities of their choice, backed up with a business plan.

The money is important here, but just as critical are the trainings provided in financial literacy, home savings management, and entrepreneurial skills that keep businesses thriving long after our initial work.

Learn More

Climate Smart Agriculture

The communities that we work with are on the front lines of the climate crisis. Whether it’s the Sahelian zone of Chad and Niger or the flood plains of Bangladesh, many of the people we work with rely heavily on agriculture, fishing, and livestock for their livelihoods. Climate change has left them in a precarious position.

We’re supporting communities to build skills in Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA), adapting their farming systems to become more resilient in the face of a less-predictable climate. These practices  include the diversification of crop varieties, increasing access to improved farming skills and technologies, and strengthening links with the private sector to facilitate access to agricultural inputs from seeds, to new equipment such as solar water pumps.

We are committed to rolling-out CSA to 600,000 farmers as part of our Strategic Plan (2016–2020) and as an active member of the African Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance (ACSAA), we’re supporting the African Union to roll out CSA to six million farmers in Africa by 2021.

Learn More
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Social Protection and Support

Emergencies like COVID-19 and conflict can have disproportionate impact on communities with more people and fewer resources. For those whose livelihoods are sustained through informal labor, a lockdown means no income. For others who have to leave everything behind in order to reach safety in a refugee or displacement camp, even those who had formal work at home may struggle to make ends meet without social protections like unemployment insurance.

We support and guide the establishment community-focused groups like Village Savings and Loans (see Our Work in Action, below) and Self-Help Groups, which can serve as social protection for those otherwise left unprotected. We also distribute cash—rather than goods—directly to those who need it, both as a short-term solution and a long-term investment. Learn more about our cash transfers work below.

Learn More
close

Graduation to Economic Productivity

More often than not, the people we work with already have jobs, but still struggle to become economically productive. They have no margin for error, no opportunity to save, and no insurance.

Time and again, the most effective poverty reduction methods are less about aid and more about enabling. We work with communities to find families who would most benefit from 14-month package of support that includes monthly cash transfers to meet basic needs, business skills training, and general coaching and advice. We also provide grants to fund income generation activities of their choice, backed up with a business plan.

The money is important here, but just as critical are the trainings provided in financial literacy, home savings management, and entrepreneurial skills that keep businesses thriving long after our initial work.

Learn More
close

Climate Smart Agriculture

The communities that we work with are on the front lines of the climate crisis. Whether it’s the Sahelian zone of Chad and Niger or the flood plains of Bangladesh, many of the people we work with rely heavily on agriculture, fishing, and livestock for their livelihoods. Climate change has left them in a precarious position.

We’re supporting communities to build skills in Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA), adapting their farming systems to become more resilient in the face of a less-predictable climate. These practices  include the diversification of crop varieties, increasing access to improved farming skills and technologies, and strengthening links with the private sector to facilitate access to agricultural inputs from seeds, to new equipment such as solar water pumps.

We are committed to rolling-out CSA to 600,000 farmers as part of our Strategic Plan (2016–2020) and as an active member of the African Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance (ACSAA), we’re supporting the African Union to roll out CSA to six million farmers in Africa by 2021.

Learn More

Our Impact

And that’s just in one year.

For every dollar donated to Concern, $0.93 goes directly into our life-saving programs in 23 of the world’s most vulnerable countries. Your tax-deductible gift makes you part of a vital community that enables us to help improve the livelihoods of over 2.6 million people each year.

Our Work in Action

Graduation

Our Graduation program is designed to “graduate” families out of extreme poverty. The program offers an integrated and intensive package of support over a period of 18 months to 3 years. This package of support, which targets extremely poor households, is usually sequenced, beginning with business coaching.

Cash transfers and skills training follow, and participants eventually gain access to capital grants, low interest loans or fixed assets. The goal of this package is to help families build sustainable livelihoods, one by one, and based on each individual family’s skills and passions. Not only does it move people above a certain threshold of wealth, but it also helps them exit extreme poverty in a sustainable fashion. Independent research has shown that one of the key factors in the success of this model is regular mentorship and monitoring: Concern teams spend much of their time on the highways and byways, listening, advising, and encouraging.

Learn More

Village Savings and Loans Associations

Community-based saving groups like Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLAs) are a key way that people can access financial services if more formal financial institutions aren’t an option. VSLAs are self-managed savings groups that comprise between 10 and 25 members, who pool their savings to lend, offering insurance and credit services to help their community members graduate to economic stability.

For those living in extreme poverty, having regular savings can be challenging due to a lack of steady income or financial literacy. VSLAs serve as a bridge, based on the unique rules and regulations of each group, to get to the point of financial empowerment and literacy.

Building Resilient Communities in Somalia

Building Resilient Communities in Somalia (BRCiS) is designed to work alongside Somali communities, building the capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a number of shocks —including economic.

As part of this, we established self-help groups for Somali women in vulnerable communities. When women bring in income, they invest 90% of that income back into their family —compared to the 30-40% invested by men. Supported by cash grants from Concern, the women in these groups can begin to save money, pool their resources, and assist one another with loans to start small businesses.

close

Graduation

Our Graduation program is designed to “graduate” families out of extreme poverty. The program offers an integrated and intensive package of support over a period of 18 months to 3 years. This package of support, which targets extremely poor households, is usually sequenced, beginning with business coaching.

Cash transfers and skills training follow, and participants eventually gain access to capital grants, low interest loans or fixed assets. The goal of this package is to help families build sustainable livelihoods, one by one, and based on each individual family’s skills and passions. Not only does it move people above a certain threshold of wealth, but it also helps them exit extreme poverty in a sustainable fashion. Independent research has shown that one of the key factors in the success of this model is regular mentorship and monitoring: Concern teams spend much of their time on the highways and byways, listening, advising, and encouraging.

Learn More
close

Village Savings and Loans Associations

Community-based saving groups like Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLAs) are a key way that people can access financial services if more formal financial institutions aren’t an option. VSLAs are self-managed savings groups that comprise between 10 and 25 members, who pool their savings to lend, offering insurance and credit services to help their community members graduate to economic stability.

For those living in extreme poverty, having regular savings can be challenging due to a lack of steady income or financial literacy. VSLAs serve as a bridge, based on the unique rules and regulations of each group, to get to the point of financial empowerment and literacy.

close

Building Resilient Communities in Somalia

Building Resilient Communities in Somalia (BRCiS) is designed to work alongside Somali communities, building the capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a number of shocks —including economic.

As part of this, we established self-help groups for Somali women in vulnerable communities. When women bring in income, they invest 90% of that income back into their family —compared to the 30-40% invested by men. Supported by cash grants from Concern, the women in these groups can begin to save money, pool their resources, and assist one another with loans to start small businesses.