“For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare.” — Doctrine and Covenants 104:17
A great deal of my time and energy over the past 16 years has centered on teaching, research, publishing, and building Third World organizations to address global poverty and human suffering. This section of my website contains microcredit projects I’ve started or expanded as we grew a worldwide movement to build family self-reliance.
I should mention that launching a movement to increase the well-being of impoverished Third World families has not been easy. While some of my associates merely doubted, a few business leaders and BYU bureaucrats have tried to subvert my efforts and kill, or at least greatly diminish, our projects. When my students and I started Enterprise Mentors in 1989, I was told that “BYU is not in the business of digging wells and helping the LDS poor.” A number of economists over the years assured me that microcredit could not succeed as a development tool and that a humanistic approach to economics is “merely a religious fantasy, not a real-world possibility.”
Fundraising campaigns on campus for humanitarian projects were shut down by campus officials because even the small amounts we were getting interfered with needed big donations for the BYU football program. It took a decade of lobbying for the creation of a service outreach center on campus, although many other universities had such institutions years earlier. And when the largest U.S. college-age development program, HELP International, was launched in 1999, resistance by administrators was fast and furious. They eventually cut funding, drove our training programs off-campus, and we even had officials attempt to block our volunteer service to poor LDS groups and Church leaders in places like Bolivia who’d requested our assistance. But I am stubborn-minded, and see life as a fearless adventure. I’ve been shot at, threatened at knifepoint, and robbed a number of times in dangerous Third World places. So bureaucratic oppression and attempts to block our efforts to do good around the globe, have never succeeded, but only made us stronger and more determined than ever.
The sections below have links on microcredit research, media coverage of our work, a listing of NGOs we’ve helped to establish, as well as others with which we’ve partnered. There is also a description of other types of humanitarian NGOs, BYU programs I’ve started, as well as material on globalization, social entrepreneurship, and global change agentry.
Development projects and programs that I’ve been creating, expanding, and making sustainable include the following:
Enterprise Mentors: International Enterprise Development Foundation–Economic development research and consulting on the informal economy of the Third World, starting in the Philippines (1990); raising $400,000 and organizing a board of directors, setting up staff to do training and technical assistance in Manila. By the mid-1990s expansions include two other centers in the Philippines, plus startups in Brazil and Mexico which have led to skill building for the poor, vocational training and mentoring, culminating in the creation of credit unions, worker cooperatives, and hundreds of families enjoying new jobs and a higher living standard. There are five offices in the Philippines, two in Guatemala, three in Mexico, and one each in Brazil, El Salvador, and Peru.
Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance: Launched economic development effort among seventy-two indigenous villages of 35,000 people in southern Mali, West Africa. Working with a U.S. board, Mali field staff, and graduate students from BYU, U. of U., and Harvard, a development program was designed to create rural, worker-owned cooperatives for women. A village banking system was established to provide access to credit for poor, would-be microentrepreneurs. Training programs in basic business, financial skills, and management were prepared, tested, and refined for use in creating hundreds of new jobs, higher incomes, and dozens of rural cooperatives.
Global Job Creation: Collaborated with students in action research teams to design and implement economic development strategies for the poor in Third World areas of Indonesia, Nigeria, Kenya, Jamaica, as well as in Bulgaria, Russia, the United States (Wyoming, Florida, and Utah Valley), the Navajo Nation, and the Goshute Tribe. New NGOs were created including Chasqui Humanitarian Foundation of the Andes (for Peru), Humanitarian Link (for Kenya), the Liahona Foundation (for Nigeria), the Russian Enterprise Development Foundation, Inc, and H.E.L.P. Honduras economic development in Central America. This was expanded to H.E.L.P. International and change agents were sent to not only Honduras but El Salvador, Peru, and Venezuela. More recently H.E.L.P. has expanded to Bolivia, Brazil, and Guatemala as well.
Unitus: In 1999, business colleagues and I formed this new NGO as a microfinance accelerator. I was the first chairman of the board of trustees and so far we’ve raised and committed $6.4 million to our partners: Pro Mujer in Mexico and SKS India in Andra Pradesh. This innovative strategy for scaling up microcredit to tens of thousands of poor families is building a global reputation.
Developing Western China: A new strategy was designed to respond to requests for technical assistance from various regions in China – Guangxi, Yunnan, and especially Sichuan provinces. A team from the Marriott School has mounted a major participatory action research project to do economic development among poor ethnic communities.
MicroBusiness Mentors: Local nonprofit social enterprise established to fight poverty and build family sustainability among poor Latinos in Provo, Utah. M&Ms provides microbusiness training, loans to start new microenterprises, and pro bono mentoring/consulting.
Global Change Agents, Inc.: President of a nonprofit capacity-building technical assistance firm providing training, assessment and consulting to NGOs around the world.
Center for Economic Self-Reliance: Culminating 15 years of work to put BYU on the global map, CESR was officially established in late 2002 with $3 million in outside funding. Research, conferences, a journal, and numerous student internships will help build family self-reliance around the world.
“The role of leadership today is to encourage the embrace of a global ethics. An ethic that abhors the present imbalance in the basic human condition—an imbalance in access to healthcare, to a nutritious diet, to shelter, to education. An ethic that extends to all people, all space, and through all time.” — Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister
Positions of NGO leadership to which I’ve been elected over the years:
Founder, Board Member, Secretary/Treasurer, and Vice President–Enterprise Mentors International, St. Louis, Missouri.
International Advisory Board–OD Center, Warsaw, Poland.
Visiting Professor– Vilnius University, Lithuania.
Technoserve–USAID Joint Project on International Development, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.
Board of Directors–Ouelessebougou Alliance, Mali, West Africa: Served as vice-chair of the board in 1998, and was elected board chair for the following year.
Chasqui Humanitarian Foundation of the Andes— Co-founder and board of directors, the Sacred Valley of the Inca, Peru.
International Development Network, founder & chair, a coalition of some 30 LDS-related charitable organizations.
Board of Trustees – Salt Lake Community Services Council, Salt Lake City.
Humanitarian Link – Nonprofit NGO board member.
H.E.L.P – International (Help ELiminate Poverty) – Nonprofit founder and board chair.
Unitus – Global NGO created to accelerate microcredit to the Third World poor. Co-founder, original chairman of the board, and trustee.
Action Against Poverty – Co-founder and board member of AAP, a nonprofit foundation.
Empowering Nations – Co-founder and board member.
MicroBusiness Mentors – CEO, co-founder.
Sustain Haiti – Founder
Arise Armenia – Co-founder
Third World Links
“For the lack of opportunity they [the world’s poor] are not able to develop the talents and ability that are within them. This is the condition of the peoples of most of the nations of the earth. . . . [Jesus] requires, absolutely requires, of us to take these people who have named his name through baptism, and teach them how to live and how to become healthy, wealthy and wise. This is our duty.” — Brigham Young