The UN estimates that, since the COVID pandemic, an additional 100 million people has been pushed into poverty.
World Challenge works with partners in many poor communities around the world, and we have witnessed daily wage laborers struggling to make ends meet in the face of instability and joblessness. Considering how to respond to such need, we have sought to implement a variety of income-generating initiatives to foster self-sustainability.
One such initiative is animal banks. An animal bank is a cashless microenterprise designed to help an individual or family to start a herd that will provide a steady and growing income. The long-term goal is to multiply the animals within the community and beyond, thereby creating sustainable income for many. We do this in cooperation with the local church to ensure spiritual impact through relationship building and evangelism.
Recipients of animals return the second and fourth offspring to the community animal bank, which gives them to the next family to do the same. In this way, the potential for helping needy families grows exponentially over time.
Since 2021, we have worked with partners in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal to develop animal banks. In less than one year, families in at least 15 communities have raised cows, pigs or goats that have provided milk and other useful income generating options. In the last few months, several babies have been born and some have already been returned to the community animal bank and given to the next family.
The response of the recipients has been very positive. Not only has their income improved short-term, but they are also excited to have the opportunity to raise their own herds and furthermore to be a blessing to their neighbors.
Churches are having more opportunities to reach out to Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist neighbors with the love of God through this tangible expression of concern for them.
We will be tracking the progress of the families, animals and animal banks to ensure the quality and multiplication of these efforts. It is our hope that many will be lifted out of poverty and encounter God’s goodness and salvation in the coming months and years.