Press release: Village Enterprise and African Wildlife Foundation Team Up to Alleviate Poverty and Protect Bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Village Enterprise and the African Wildlife Foundation announced a new partnership funded by the Arcus Foundation to reduce poverty and to protect the endangered Bonobo population in the biodiverse Lomako region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Bonobos, which are humankind’s closest living relative, are only found in the DRC and are threatened due to poverty and conflict that fuel the hunting of wild animals for food.
The African Wildlife Foundation is the leading international conservation organization focused solely on Africa. Village Enterprise’s graduation out-of-extreme poverty program targets people who live below $1.90 a day in rural sub-Saharan Africa and provides them with the tools and training to start sustainable, income-generating businesses and savings groups. Proven results through a recently completed randomized controlled trial by Innovations for Poverty Action include increases in income, savings, household and productive assets, and food security.
This first-of-its kind project unites the two organizations in a dual mission to improve the livelihoods of residents in the Lomako area while protecting the Bonobo population. “Village Enterprise’s proven track record of training the ultra-poor to start businesses in highly sensitive conservation areas gives us confidence that this collaboration will increase both income and savings of local residents and support the long-term protection of the bonobos,” said Jef Dupain of the African Wildlife Foundation.
The initial $270,000 Arcus Foundation grant provides pilot funding for Village Enterprise to train AWF to start 240 new sustainable businesses and provide 720 households with a path out of extreme poverty. “After three decades of success in Kenya and Uganda, we are thrilled to expand our work to the DRC, which has one of the highest poverty rates on the continent,” said Village Enterprise CEO Dianne Calvi. “It is also our first partnership formed under the new Village Enterprise Extend. Extend was created to equip partners to replicate our evidence-based, cost-effective approach in new geographies and builds on our 10 years of experience training partners such as Geneva Global, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the BOMA Project.”
If successful, Village Enterprise and African Wildlife Foundation intend to explore how this partnership can be scaled to other regions.
Photo courtesy of Pavel Ahmed.