May 30, 2018
Currently, 767 million people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.90 a day and struggling to afford life’s basic necessities. Here at Soles4Souls, we see time and time again the importance of and need for a long-term solution to poverty, which is exactly why the expansion of our micro-enterprise program is at the forefront of our global efforts.
By repurposing donated shoes and clothing and utilizing them as a resource, our program creates meaningful opportunities for those living in poverty. We partner with non-profits in developing countries, who provide business training to entrepreneurs, usually women. The entrepreneurs are able to start small businesses of their own selling the shoes and clothes in their local marketplaces. This allows them to earn a steady income, and ultimately lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Soles4Souls currently has direct operations in Haiti, Honduras, Transnistria and Sierra Leone, and we have witnessed firsthand the positive impact our micro-enterprise model has in these struggling economies. Because of this, we have also long known that establishing a partnership in Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America, is essential to our mission. Approximately 30% of people in Nicaragua live below the poverty line. This percentage is even more extreme in remote areas, where job opportunities are scarce and access to resources is limited.
Remembering a Mother’s Love and Example
Recognizing the drastic need for relief in these areas is the easy part. The establishment of a new micro-enterprise operation and funding a project of this scope, however, is not as simple. Seed funding is often the catalyst necessary to help get an operation up and running. Soles4Souls Board Member, and former Board Chair, Bernadette Lane, has stepped forward to make this endeavor possible and does so in honor of her late mother, Annice Lane.
Annice, who was raised in Lisbon, Iowa during the Great Depression, was known for her deep commitment to her family, quiet manner, infinite kindness, and ability to find a way to do what needed to be done to provide for her children. With her husband John, she farmed for 41 years after WWII in rural Cascade, Iowa where they raised Black Angus in a cow-calf operation. John had off farm employment that meant he was away for extended periods of time. Annice handled all financial aspects of the farm, as well as many of the farm’s operations, while also raising nine children and tending the garden that yielded the family’s produce.
While largely unknown to those around her, Annice’s generous spirit impacted those far beyond her local community. She had a philanthropic heart, an affinity for Latin American countries and was committed to supporting organizations that empowered mothers and migrant workers, and helped children.
“My mother was just three weeks shy of 97 when she passed. Her care and concern was evident, not only for her family, but for others who needed support,” said Bernadette. “From an early age, I learned of her compassion for the injustices she saw given to the migrant farm workers and their families from Central American countries. It never left her.”
Launching on Nicaraguan Mother’s Day, May 30, Soles4Souls’ new micro-enterprise program in Nicaragua is designed to create life-changing opportunities for those in need. Working in partnership with NicaRise, an organization in Nicaragua committed to creating sustainable economic change, Soles4Souls will supply entrepreneurs (many of them being mothers) with a consistent supply of high-quality, affordable shoes and clothes so that they can begin earning an income.
“NicaRise has partnered with some of the poorest communities in Nicaragua where families live and work in local dumps making less than $2 a day,” said NicaRise Founder Todd Martin. “Providing micro-enterprise to these communities allows us to expand the economic opportunities to families and their communities to break the cycle of poverty. Every entrepreneur creates a ripple of compounding growth that has a sustainable long-term impact.”
“I wanted to do something very special to honor my mother,” continuedBernadette. “While her humility in life would resist this recognition, I know she is pleased that a bit of extra support is being given to women in Nicaragua so that they can be empowered to make a better life for their families, and most especially, their children. Because of her, meaningful long-term impact will be made through the establishment of this micro-enterprise program. “
Many of the women in rural Nicaraguan villages live in houses made of tin and plastic. They are determined to work as hard as possible to improve their children’s quality of life, which, Bernadette says, embodies her Mother’s spirit. The steady income earned by starting a business selling shoes made possible through this micro-enterprise program in honor of Annice Lane, will now allow them to purchase food, send their children to school and make their houses more livable. Furthermore, these jobs provide a sense of hope and dignity, which is oftentimes just as important to Soles4Souls as any measure of financial success.
“We are grateful and excited to expand our efforts in Nicaragua,” said Buddy Teaster, President and CEO of Soles4Souls. “Everything that Annice Lane embodied aligns with our mission to serve those in need and create opportunity. Through Bernadette’s gift, her mother’s legacy will drive change and a better quality of life for generations of Nicaraguans.”
To donate your new or gently-worn shoes to help support Soles4Souls’ micro-enterprise operations, find a donation location near you.