Rationale

Approximately 54.4 percent of Zambia’s population lived below the poverty line in the year 2015; with poverty levels in rural areas recorded at 76.6 percent (CSO, 2015). Empowerment programs by government through the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) and NGOs such as World Vision exist that target the socio-economic empowerment of low income homes, with special focus on previously marginalized communities such as; women, the disabled and people living with HIV/AIDS. The effectiveness of such programs however becomes sterile when the targeted community is both illiterate and lacks business management skills. Other instances occur when the marginalized citizens are given handouts from either churches, NGOs, social security or family members. While these initiatives are noble, they are unsustainable. The foregoing hence requires development of a sustainable system under which the highlighted communities can be empowered in a both sustainable and holistic manner.

Solution

The microeconomic empowerment program is an open source economic platform where experts in various professional/academic fields develop enterprise plans, educate the marginalized on enterprise management, source funds for the plans and finally hand over the enterprises to suitable management that is partially or fully composed of individuals from the target communities. The foregoing has a threefold benefit, first, the marginalized in society become economically independent, second, the participating experts do not do much of the heavy lifting at individual level and lastly, profits from these ventures operate as revolving empowerment funds.

Target

The primary targets are the previously marginalized in society including: orphans, the disabled and people living with HIV/AIDS or terminal illnesses. The secondary targets are youths and low income households in both rural and urban areas, with special focus on empowerment of women.

Volunteer Eligibility

Anyone over the age of 16 can volunteer, provided they are able to demonstrate positive contributions to the goals.

Mechanics

Step 1:  The Wesbr Foundation identifies suitable microeconomic empowerment opportunities and sets up the necessary structures such as: data rooms, contact persons, acquires permissions and consents;

Step 2:  The Wesber Foundation creates an advert for the microeconomic empowerment opportunity on wesbrfoundation.org or other platform that can be verified on wesbrfoundation.org (for security purposes);

Step 3:  Volunteers fill out the Wesbr Foundation Volunteer form on wesbrfoundation.org or hardcopy;

Step 4: The Wesbr Foundation evaluates the applications and selects suitable candidates for the project;

Step 5:  The Wesbr Foundation facilitates a workshop or webminar or any orientation mechanism in which volunteers are oriented about the project; and

Step 6:  Volunteers begin the project.

Funding

The projects are principally crowd funded but may apply for project specific grants. Fund raising campaigns are initiated when projects are approved, unsolicited funds are nonetheless welcome and will strictly sit on the microeconomic empowerment account until a project is approved.