Category: Micro Enterprise

A Community that Spans an Ocean

January 27, 2017 by Diana Coombs

Meet the Women of Change.

Women of Change is network of women who are committed to supporting the movement of change happening among brewers in East Africa. Val Roark is the coordinator of Women of Change, and she shares with us today about the importance of community on both sides of the ocean.

How do you feel community is important to Women of Change?
Community is important because it gives us emotional support and accountability. If you want to really champion a cause and champion what God is doing in other places, having someone with you who is excited alongside you is so encouraging.

How do you feel community is important to the brewers?
The groups there meet sometimes weekly, sometimes once a month. They do merry-go-round or table banking together so they’re not only supporting each other socially, spiritually and emotionally, but also supporting each other financially to some degree. Because they come from a village together and are trained at ELI, they go back home with that support system. And that support is paramount to their success; I saw it for myself over and over again.

Do you feel the Women of Change community in the US is connected to the communities of former brewers in Kenya?
That is what I want to see happen. We can embrace the change they are making and recognize and look at ourselves and think how does that impact me personally. What does God want to change in my life?
Also they (the brewers) are realizing we are all in God’s world and His kingdom, and they have these friends who are sisters of change who are far away but care about them. For the women in Africa to feel this connection is huge. I saw on their faces what it meant to them, even just to think we are praying for them. And then for them to say we’ll pray for you…when I see the faith they have, I want people like that praying for me!

Interested in getting involved with Women of Change? Contact Val at about joining a chapter or starting your own chapter in your area.


Interview with Val Roark by Sarah Ponce
Communications Manager
Empowering Lives International

Leah’s New Life

March 17, 2016 by Diana Coombs

SOP Bread PhotoGod uses you to bring people dignity! Through your prayers and support, you empower sustainable lives. But what does this look like?

As I walked by Leah, I reached into my pocket to hand her a dollar for a loaf of bread. This was the fourth day in a row.

Battered and abandoned by an abusive husband, Leah had taken refuge in our church. Though her wounds healed and we could offer her a small hut for shelter, she still had to beg in order to eat.

It hit me that in my attempt to solve her problem I was actually creating one.

By handing her a daily dollar I was:
Creating and encouraging her dependency.
Robbing her of the joy of developing her own skills.
Removing her responsibility to solve her problems.
And supporting an unsustainable solution.

I’ve learned from experience and from God’s Word that God is more interested in building our lives than simply solving our problems. Jesus tells his disciples “Go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:16).

The solutions to poverty are certainly not simple. However, by guiding people to attain skills and find sustainable solutions, we equip them to build their lives and achieve God’s purposes for them. Then they, too, become teachers and role models of the holistic life to which God calls us all.

Two months later, Leah was selling bread. A Tanzanian comrade and I built a steel drum oven to give to her. I’ll never forget the day that she walked forward during a church service with coins in her hands for an offering. Her face filled with a smile. The fruits of her own labor she was now able to give to God!

by Don Rogers

Wish to respond by giving? Click here.

Celebrate International Womans Day

March 8, 2012 by Angela Vincent

Rural women constitute one-fourth of the world’s population. They are leaders, decision-makers, producers, workers, entrepreneurs and service providers. Their contributions are vital to the well-being of families and communities, and of local and national economies.

Yet rural women’s rights, contributions and priorities have been largely overlooked. Rural women have also been hard hit by the economic and financial crisis, volatile food prices and export-driven agriculture. They need to be fully engaged in efforts to shape a response to these inter-connected crises and in decision-making at all levels.

Now Is the Time to Act

Rural women are key agents of change. Their leadership and participation are needed to shape responses to development challenges and recent crises.

Women are central to the development of rural areas: they account for a great proportion of the agricultural labour force, produce the majority of food grown, especially in subsistence farming, and perform most of the unpaid care work in rural areas. It is critical that their contributions be recognized and that their voices be heard in decision-making processes at all levels of governments, and within rural organizations.

Consider this story and learn how you can get involved today.

Here are a few photos from our Communications Director, Micah Albert, from over the last 5 years.


South Sudan



South Sudan


Bukavu, DRC

South Sudan


South Sudan

Global Data

70 percent of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor live in rural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly one-third of these, while South Asia is now home to about half.

In 2010, 925 million people were chronically hungry, of whom 60 percent were women.

Agriculture provides a livelihood for 86 percent of rural women and men, and employment for about 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and landless workers, 43 percent of whom are women.
An estimated two-thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers worldwide are women.

The burden of unpaid care work is substantial. Globally there are 884 million people without safe drinking water, 1.6 billion people without reliable sources of energy, 1 billion people who lack access to roads, 2.6 billion people without satisfactory sanitation facilities, and 2.7 billion people who rely on open fires and traditional cooking stoves. Rural women carry most of the unpaid work burden due to lack of infrastructure and services.

In rural areas of the developing world, excluding China, 45 percent of women aged 20–24 were married or in union before the age of 18, compared to 22 percent of urban women.

    Past Success, Future Hope

    February 7, 2012 by Don Rogers

    Has this ever happened to you?  That moment when you pass someone or someplace and a flood of memories surfaces like a submarine bursting through the ocean ceiling.  That happened to me recently as I was driving near Mwanza, Tanzania and felt compelled to pass by a village where I lived 16 years ago.  During those days the plague of poverty and lack of ideas and opportunity brought over a dozen Tanzanians and myself to our knees to pray and then to our knees to work as we filled small plastic bags with soil and seeds. Together we prayed that the thousands of seeds we had planted would germinate to become small trees that would strengthen the environment and generate income for people who were suffering because of poverty.

    Not only did those seeds germinate but so did many other ideas as like minded people came together to begin a new ministry called Empowering Lives International.  Over 15 years have passed since that first project was initiated. As I drove by that same village recently I felt compelled to pass by the same compound that was once filled with trees and hopeful lives to see, if by chance or providence, I might meet someone I might remember.

    Just pulling off the road at that point brought back many memories but I was not prepared for what I was about to see.  First of all – the tree nursery that we began over fifteen years ago was still there –  BUT –  it was ten times larger than before!  As I walked in among the neatly arranged rows of small trees, flowers, and colors, I approached a small group of women who were busily filling tubes with soil and chatting as they worked. I greeted each person one by one and felt that I recognized the last woman. I stared until I remembered who she was.  A moment that took place 15 years ago came forward in my mind and I asked if she was the one.  And she was.


    Photo of the Day

    February 2, 2012 by editor

    Portrait of one of our successful chicken farmers in Tanzania. (photo: Micah Albert)

    Photo of the Day

    November 2, 2011 by Angela Vincent

    Yamkindo and Issac Ruto feeding the fish ponds in Tanzania. Not only will these provide ideas for income for locals, but they also help repopulate the fish population in Lake Victoria and provide income generation for ELI as a whole. (photo: Micah Albert)

    Onesimus milk production

    April 5, 2011 by editor

    ELI has been training farmers on how to increase their milk production, and we have engaged with micro-loans for those who don’t have the capital to get going, but there was another piece missing. How do we help farmers, especially poor farmers, with smaller quantities get a better price for their product?

    Onesimus is a milk collection and cooling plant that was created to buy milk from the farmers in the Kipkaren, Kenya area and sell it to processors. It is run as a for-profit enterprise with the goals of generating income to help fund the ministries of ELI as well as stimulate the economy by developing the farmers in our community. In 2007, we began with an idea and did the necessary feasibility studies and business plans. By October 2008, we raised two-thirds of the capital necessary to get up and running and began construction. We began collecting milk on April 1, 2009, collecting 45 gallons that day. After six months, the business reached an operational break-even point. By the end of 2010, Onesimus had employed 12 people and collected approximately 2,500 gallons daily from over 4,000 farmers. We have been able to reinvest $20,000 of profits into initial capital needs, and we have begun contributing monthly from the profits to the orphanage. (more…)

    Two chickens and a little training

    January 10, 2011 by Don Rogers

    Two chickens.

    That is all that James Boit owned as he began the year in 2010. And yet, through a powerful ELI training, he was able to use those two chickens to make a profit beyond his wildest imagination. I was amazed as I sat at his home and heard his story.

    James was a struggling farmer who heard about an ELI economic training that was coming to his village. He decided to attend. After attending 10 weeks of the training, James had enough training, skills, resources and knowledge to radically alter the course of the year for his family and entire village. He learned a variety of skills throughout the training, but his favorite ones had to do with chickens.

    James never thought that his two measly chickens could provide much for his family. Maybe a few eggs throughout the year, but that’s it. After the ELI training, he saw the amazing potential those two birds held. Through the training, James learned what to do with the eggs that were laid. He was to hatch a certain percentage of the eggs, sell a certain percentage and eat a certain percentage of them. Then with the new chickens that hatched, he again was to hatch a certain percentage of their eggs and sell a certain percentage. By keeping careful records of each chicken and managing them well, James’ chicken population began multiplying exponentially.

    With the profit he started making from selling the chickens and their eggs, James bought two sheep. Those sheep then began to reproduce, and by the end of the year, he had 13 sheep. He sold eight of them and kept five to continue to reproduce in the new year for him. With the proceeds he made from selling the sheep, James was able to supply seeds and school fees for his entire extended family.

    Now, as he begins 2011, he is walking into the new year with 200 chickens, five sheep (two of which are pregnant), plenty of seeds, fertilizer for a crop and sufficient school fees for his children. James and his family look forward to seeing what God has in store as they dream about the profits that will come from beginning a year with 200 chickens instead of only two. If two chickens got them this far, there’s no telling what 200 chickens will do for them.

    The Boit family rejoices and thanks God for this miracle in their lives. They want others in the community to learn the same skills they received, so they have turned their home into a demonstration farm where others can come and learn from them and gain skills and knowledge. As I sat in their yard and saw the abundant blessings around them and villagers streaming to their home to receive empowerment, I praised God! What a joy to get to be part of stories like this.