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A woman in agriculture

Make Every Day International Women’s Day

// March 8, 2019

Beyond Our Borders Expands Your Connection to the World

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance. On this day, I am proud to share the philanthropic work of Beyond Our Borders, a group-advised fund of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

Two years ago I arrived in Boulder to join my son. I came from a lifetime of involvement in international nonprofit and foundation work, overseas and in the U.S. My focus had been on women’s economic empowerment as one of the most powerful change agents in development. I wanted to connect with that world in my new state and was delighted to find Beyond Our Borders (BOB).

Beyond Our Borders is an avenue for collaborative giving

Through BOB, I have found colleagues and friends who share my interests.  BOB gives me an organized way to continue to learn about programs and organizations engaged in development for women, as well as an avenue for collaborative giving.

Today BOB includes nearly 40 women who are passionate about economic and social advancement for women in developing countries. Each year we pool our donations to fund programs that are effective interventions in women’s conditions of poverty and social injustice.

Beyond Our Borders seeks input from local community and leadership

When researching programs, we look for nongovernmental organization (NGO) programs that seek input from local community and leadership. We discuss and choose a geographic or subject focus. Using what we’ve learned and the experience and knowledge among us, we then come up with a list of potential grantees to contact for further research. We choose our grantees carefully and follow up with evaluations after the grant term.

Honing in on programs in agriculture

I am part of a committee within Beyond Our Borders that chose women’s economic power as our focus in 2018-2019. In 2018, we honed in on programs in agriculture. In spite of all my experience, I’ve found our discussions stimulating and enlightening. I learned that, on average, women are 43 percent of the agricultural labor force and produce 60 to 80 percent of food crops in poorer parts of the world. Research tells us that if all women smallholders received equal access to productive resources, their farm yields would rise by 20 to 30 percent. Even greater, 100 to 150 million people would no longer be hungry.

One Acre Fund and Lambi Fund of Haiti

So when we chose One Acre Fund and Lambi Fund of Haiti as two of our 2018 grantees, I was absolutely on board. We know that our grant dollars will reach the women we desire to help.

One Acre Fund helps farmers boost their farming productivity—increasing harvest per acre, sales, and income. It provides farmers with start up financing, seeds and fertilizer, agricultural training, and market facilitation to help maximize profit. One Acre Fund currently serves farmers based in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and Malawi. It is on track to reach 1 million farmers by 2020.

The Lambi Fund of Haiti follows the lead of the grassroots peasant and women’s organizations with which it collaborates. Through discussion and reflection, they decide what is best for their own community and present the project to the Lambi Fund for support. The Lambi Fund funds five main project areas: sustainable development, community microcredit, animal husbandry, environment, and organizational/leadership training.

Put your passion into action with BOB

If you are passionate about ending poverty and injustice in the developing world, Beyond Our Borders gives you a way to do something about it. You will learn about issues and potential solutions. You will join a group of like-minded women who are active in their support of poor women on their way to economic and social justice. COME, JOIN US!

Susan Cornell Wilkes advises individuals and family foundations on effective international grant making.

Cover photo courtesy of One Acre Fund and body photo is courtesy of Lambi Fund of Haiti. To learn more about Beyond Our Borders, contact Colleen LaFontaine at colleenl@wfco.org.

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