Effective community development - the kind that restores health, renews hope and inspires lasting transformation - requires integrated, sustainable solutions that address the root causes and unique circumstances in each community.
Click on the icons below to find out more about our programs and the role each plays this transformational work.
View our Impact map to see all the communities where LIA currently serves.
Earning capacity and savings are the basis for physical poverty alleviation. When one can provide for his/her family, he/she has more dignity and a better understanding of self-worth. LIA focuses on economic empowerment opportunities that promote self-sufficiency and innovation to create value in a given economy.
- Catalyzing community-based savings and loan groups
- Providing training on saving and work ethics
- Administering structured skills training for improved job prospecting
- Providing entrepreneurship training with seed money to start independent businesses in urban contexts
- Administering agricultural development training in rural contexts
- Facilitating cooperatives to improve economies of scale for small-scale farmers
- Establishing small-scale manufacturing to scale product production
A story of restoration and revealed beauty through one economic empowerment initiative in a Kenya slum: the Konjo Shoe project.
Konjo: Redefining Beauty
At 42-years-old, Jane has lived through more than most people live through their entire life. Growing up in a rural community in western Kenya, she was abandoned by her parents and forced by her would-be mother-in-law to sell Changa, an illicit alcohol, at the age of 13. She had her first child when she was 14-years-old and followed her fiancé to Kibera slum, in Nairobi. Shortly after, her fiancé began forcing her to sell her body as a means of income for their family, so she left him and sought to make it on her own.
A single mother of three, Jane continually struggled to find steady income and support her family. As a woman with only an elementary school education, no skills training, living in one of Africa’s largest slums in a country where the employment rate is nearly 40 percent, the challenges she faces economically are numerous.
Jane was willing to try anything to earn income. She sometimes sold vegetables and mandazi bread on the roadside, but it was never enough to feed and clothe her children. She was forced, again, to offer her body as a means to earn income. Knowing full well the ramifications of such work, she continued to seek other sources of income, but always found herself back in the same place.
Her life took another turn for the worst six years ago when her oldest son was shot and killed by police in the slum they lived in. Over the next few years, Jane lost her other two children – one was stabbed during a bar fight, and the other passed while giving birth. She was left to raise her five grandchildren alone, all of which are under the age of seven.
Despite her circumstances, Jane continued to search for fulfillment in life. She attended church in the slum regularly. In February of 2012, her pastor, a member of Kibera Pastor Fellowship, recommended she join the LIA Konjo shoe project, an economic empowerment initiative.
As a member of the Konjo shoe project, Jane has been trained in both the skill required to make quality shoes out of local materials, and also in business and finance skills, so that she can successfully earn an income and support her family. Furthermore, Jane has acquired a better understanding of her own worth, gained some renewed dignity and begun to view herself as the beautiful daughter of Christ she is.
When she first came to the project, her co-workers described her as severely depressed and broken. After several months of involvement in the program, one of Jane’s co-workers now says, “That’s the one thing I really thank God for - that even though she is economically empowered, more than that, this project has allowed her to be around people; it’s given her a community and you can tell it’s changed her.”
Jane says God’s opening the door to the Konjo shoe project has renewed her trust in the Lord’s plan for her life. When asked about her hopes, Jane responds by saying that she wants to see her grandchildren have a different life than what she and her children have lived. She also hopes to one day open a small business utilizing the skills she’s learned through the shoe project.
A widow stuggling to care for her children learns self-sufficiency while experiencing God's abundant love and grace.
Living in Nazatet, Ethiopia, about 60 miles outside the capital, Etalemahu cares for her five children. In her 40s, Etalemahu is a widow who struggled desperately to feed her children, provide them shelter and keep them in school.
Unfortunately, Etalemahu never received professional training, so she found herself working on the streets as a day laborer, a job that requires heavy lifting and strenuous physical activity usually reserved for men. After 10-12 hours of work, Etalemahu would make $2 each day – less than the cost of her rent, utilizes, food or school expenses. Faithfully she maintained this lifestyle as best she could, fearing for the fate of her children if she did not.
One day, Etalemahu learned of an economic empowerment initiative through one of LIA’s local church partners and expressed interest in participating. A non-believer, she never imagined she might be chosen as a beneficiary in the program.
Less than two weeks later, Etalemahu learned she was accepted into the income generation training through the church. She eagerly participated in the training and even developed a business plan, dreaming of a day when she could provide for her family.
The church granted Etalemahu a mico-loan to carry out her business plan. She began selling injera, a traditional Ethiopian food, and just a few months later, upgraded her store to a small tea shop where she now sells teas, bread and ingera to the local community.
Etalemahu leaves her shop every day with a lighter step, confident in herself and her ability to ensure that her children are fed, sheltered and on the road to success. Through her involvement with the local Church, she’s learned God’s love and grace first-hand. She’s praises Him for using the LIA-trained community health workers to catalyze the drastic turn in her life – for the better!
In Makueni, Kenya, where the community is dependent on agriculture, LIA Church partners established a cooperative among farmers.
In 2010, LIA staff began working with the leadership of five partner churches in Makueni, a rural community in Kenya, a few hours drive from Nairobi. They began equipping them with the knowledge, training, confidence and direction needed to support the most vulnerable individuals and families in their community in a sustainable way
During the next few months, our staff and church partners worked to determine the most pressing needs of their community. Because Makueni is rooted in agriculture, we learned from the local leadership that they are highly dependent on good weather conditions, access to water during dry spells and market demand.
The partner churches, with the guidance of dedicated LIA staff, put together an integrated program plan aimed at empowering the local farming community with the skills and business knowledge needed to generate and increase their income, and therefore provide for their families for the long-term.
These farmers banded together, unified under church leadership, to improve their living and economic conditions. With the local Church leading the way, a farming cooperative of church members was formed! They received business and financial management training, professional guidance, and spiritual development, equipping them to implement solutions with a lasting impact.
During the last 18 months, LIA's local church partners and the members of the farming co-op identified their unique farming challenges and implemented sustainable solutions that allowed for:
- Better long-term storage of grain in the form of large silos (pictured below) so that the farmers could hold onto it until the selling price is optimal
- Harvesting and storing rain water during the rainy season so that farming could continue during drier seasons
- Better management of the group and personal income generated from selling the grain
- A higher overall confidence in their individual and collective capabilities
The co-op, which has now grown to more than 400 families in less than two years, has succeeded in creating a firm foundation for the local community. The local Church is now equipped to what God intended it to do - to meet the needs of its most vulnerable neighbors, and the members now have a truer sense of self worth, dignity and understanding of God's love.