We often ask ourselves at Chaka, “what are we doing?” And very often our answer changes. We rewrite the vision statement almost weekly, and we’re constantly honing the mission in on one thing or another. Most recently, we’ve been kicking around the belief-based vision that “every artisan deserves a spot in the global marketplace.” Whatever we’re calling it today, our true goal remains constant: empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty. Just because we change the words we use, does not mean that the end goal changes.
A local missionary in Managua recently suggested a new lens, that is really quite simple: we’re building a middle class.
We re-tweeted a post from Compassion International this week (http://bit.ly/9RQzuo ) that highlights a World Bank study called “How the Poor Define Poverty: Can Anyone Hear Us?”. Check it out if you haven’t. It’s fascinating. And, two things strike me as particularly relevant to building a middle class of empowered artisans:
1) the poor in this study largely define poverty as things like “dependence” (40%) and “incapacity” (21%), and
2) the study underscores the multidimensionality of poverty.
Why is this relevant to building a middle class? Because, if poverty is truly multidimensional (I believe wholly that it is), the same interconnectedness that keeps people in poverty may help break the cycle. If a person can sufficiently break one dimension of poverty (the study highlights five in total) then the others may hopefully follow suit. I have no statistics to back this up, as of yet, so take this as just an abstraction, but what if it’s true? If you can find a way to turn dependence into independence, or incapacity into empowerment, the possibilities grow significantly. A person might just be able to break the poverty cycle, and provide his/her family with adequacy, not scarcity. But, that can’t happen unless the society and the economy provide an accessible step to grab onto: a middle class.