Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009 Riches For Good Award Winners

As we go into the 2009 holiday giving season, I am highlighting and funding four organizations that I believe are well aligned with my career mission to “Improve the lives of underserved populations through sustainable distribution of products and services related to 1) health, 2) education and training, 3) financial services, 4) food, clothing, and shelter.”

Health: Living Goods

Education and Training: Room to Read

Financial Services: Unitus

Food, Clothing, and Shelter: One Acre Fund

I have funded Room to Read and Unitus in the past, and I continue to be impressed with both organizations’ ability to scale their programs to reach more people in the developing world. Living Goods and One Acre Fund are both startups whom I have not funded previously, but I’m impressed with their management teams, strategies, early results, and their commitment to financial sustainability within three to five years.

Below is a brief description of each organization listed above. Italics denote that the content was pulled verbatim from the organization’s web site:

Living Goods

Living Goods operates Avon-like networks of door-to-door Health Promoters who make a modest income selling essential health products at prices affordable to the poor. The model combines the latest and best practices from the fields of micro finance and public health to create a truly sustainable system for improving access to basic health products and defeating the diseases of poverty. Living Goods is also a vital force of economic development, improving livelihoods by providing rural women a reliable source of income as Health Promoters, by keeping wage earners healthy and productive, and by averting costly medical treatments through prevention. Living Goods has a goal to become financially self-sufficient within five years.

Room to Read

We partner with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children's literature, constructing schools, and providing education to girls. We seek to intervene early in the lives of children in the belief that education empowers people to improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries and future generations. Through the opportunities that only education can provide, we strive to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time. Since 2000, Room to Read has touched the lives of 3.1 million children by building 832 schools, establishing 7526 libraries, publishing 334 children’s books, and providing scholarships to 8786 girls who otherwise would be unable to attend primary and secondary school.


Unitus, an international nonprofit organization, fights global poverty by accelerating the growth of microfinance—small loans and other financial tools for self-empowerment—where it is needed most. Unitus works with 23 microfinance partners in India, Southeast Asia, East Africa, South America, and Mexico. These MFIs are growing 7 times faster than their peers, demonstrating the strength of their leadership and the promise of our approach. In just 8 years, we’ve helped our partners serve more than 9 million families.

One Acre Fund

Our mission is to empower chronically hungry farm families in East Africa to permanently lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. Our strategy is to provide a comprehensive investment package of high-quality seed and fertilizer, education courses, and access to output markets. Our method is to work through women’s self-help groups in rural villages to deliberately reach the most severely hunger-affected. Our measurable impact is fewer child deaths, lower child stunting rates, dramatically increased farm incomes, and permanent empowerment of the needy. One Acre Fund gets extra points in my book for attracting Room to Read founder John Wood onto its board. The organization has a goal to reach financial sustainability within three years.

Congratulations to the 2009 Riches For Good Award winners!


Tom Bailey said...

I like your blog and what you are into. I like the positive nature of what you are doing here. I really get your viewpoint here and like it.

Anonymous said...

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Lisa Hotchkiss said...

On behalf of the entire Room to Read family, many thanks for including us in your list of Riches For Good Award winners! We're very honored and appreciate your support.
Lisa Hotchkiss, Room to Read