How can we move poor communities from hopelessness to hopefulness? In this fascinating episode of Add Passion and Stir, Pierre Ferrari, President and CEO of Heifer International, and Matt Bell, chef and owner of South on Main restaurant in Little Rock, share insights about creating value in poor communities with hosts Debbie and Billy Shore. Ferrari speaks about the success Heifer International has had in poor agricultural communities throughout the world by driving social psychological change before anything else. “We work with communities that could almost be described as clinically depressed…the despair is so deep…they feel condemned to this situation,” he says. Heifer uses value-based training to demonstrate to people their own ability and capacity to make change. “Without that psychological shift, nothing we do, no animal, no training will actually catch,” he notes. Bell has first-hand knowledge of the success of this model in Arkansas. He sources his chickens from Grassroots Farm Cooperative, a cooperative of 10 formerly struggling small farms in Little Rock that was formed with the help of Heifer International to meet the demand of the growing market. “My understanding of Heifer at the time was you buy a cow and someone somewhere gets a cow. I didn’t understand this small business component. I didn’t understand it could happen in Arkansas,” says Bell.
Heifer International provides resources, capital, and knowledge to help enable small farmers to generate sustainable income, which gets cycled back into their communities creating opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.
Ferrari describes a program with female farmers in Nepal which is creating a goat meat value-chain by working with banks to fund this system. There are now 150,000 women organized into small self-help groups, which organize into larger co-ops and then an even larger union. “They are now feeling the dignity of being economically self-reliant,” he concludes. Heifer International measures success by giving people a ‘living income,’ which is a carefully calculated value that is “very complicated…but basically lets farmers live a life of dignity,” says Ferrari. Bell recalls his childhood when parents in his community created an informal system to ensure one little boy growing up in poverty always had food. “A group of moms would take turns packing and extra lunch for Daniel, and they would say, ‘Make sure you give this to Daniel before you get to class, so there’s no stigma,’” he remembers. Growing up on a cattle ranch also gave him a unique perspective on the food chain. “An understanding of that gives us more empathy into how we tackle hunger issues worldwide and locally.” Bell’s values led him to become a passionate supporter of the No Kid Hungry campaign.
Get inspired by this sincere discussion about ending hunger and poverty.