Bullet holes in metal posts are still a visible reminder of the conflict that once took place in Beirut – a city that today embodies a deep love of life. I have also seen Bangladeshi families with nothing more than sheets of plastic to use for shelter, and have had the privilege of getting to know orphans in Eastern Europe who endured unbelievable adversity to become remarkable young adults. Similar stories of survival and perseverance are taking place in many other parts of the world, and have throughout history. Humans have always been survivors.
If we are indeed entering a period of climate change, those who are likely to be affected most are those who have the least, simply due to a lack of resources to adapt . As a result, they will have to be the most resourceful in the face of this impending global crisis.
Enter Kutamani, a 501(c)3 charity that aims to reduce poverty by supporting entrepreneurship and education of low-income candidates across the globe. My younger sister and I co-founded Kutamani, which derives its name from the Swahili verb “to aspire”. The goal of the organization is to identify high-potential candidates worldwide and support their pursuits through a long-term relationship, and to connect candidates in a network that can provide advice and moral support. Already this long-term relationship strategy has yielded dividends: when one of our initially successful candidates later required additional support in the face of unforeseen circumstances, we were able to help, thereby ensuring that the initial resources and hard work were not lost .
Candidates working with Kutamani have already been affected by climate change in the form of severe droughts and rainfall. In terms of climate change, low-income entrepreneurs have the potential to identify some of the greatest solutions to surviving and addressing climate change, because, for their very survival they must. It is the mission of Kutamani to support as many of them as possible.
Threats & Opportunities:
- Governments. As the impacts of climate change begin to have greater effects, governments may enact policies that may both help and hurt low-income entrepreneurs. While more government funds may become available for organizations like Kutamani, new government policies in the face of destabilizing factors such as climate change could also conceivably make operations more challenging for organizations like Kutamani.
- Corporations. As corporations worldwide become increasingly aware of the impact of their operations, organizations such as Kutamani may be the beneficiaries of corporate social responsibility programs. Kutamani has already received equipment from companies that believe in its mission. However, at the same time, corporations are a well-known contributor to greenhouse emissions, and if left unchecked, this will only exacerbate the problems faced by the people Kutamani is trying to help.
- Increasing awareness. Individuals worldwide are becoming increasingly aware of the need to innovate and to support organizations that are part of the solution to major issues such as global climate change. This changing global mentality will likely help in the form of changing consumer behavior (i.e. not supporting companies that do not have sustainable practices), as well as increased volunteering and donations by people who want to give back.
- Other non-profits. As the impacts of climate change increase, more non-profit organizations may spring-up. This will help Kutamani as it will offer a greater support network with a wider range of expertise – something that has already benefitted the organization.
Performance & future considerations:
Founded in 2013 Kutamani has done well in light of the fact that 100% of donations go to its projects, and its directors are only working on the project in their spare time. The first project has grown from one woman’s idea to an operational business in which she manages three employees with minimal support needed from Kutamani, and is ready to give back to other candidates.
Looking to the future:
- Catastrophic events. Kutamani should consider how candidates will be impacted by potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change. One way to address this would be to maintain resources to support candidates if such unforeseen events were to occur.
- Geographic diversification. While the network effect of linking candidates may be most beneficial if candidates are geographically close, this could also put pressure on the organization if a climate-related event affected a large fraction of Kutamani’s candidates.
- Geopolitics. Kutamani could further improve its effectiveness by staying abreast of the changing geopolitical landscape in light of climate change as well as other factors, in order to develop its strategy
- Emerging Resources. Kutamani should increase awareness of emerging resources such as grants and fellowships, and benefitting from other organizations that are willing to offer assistance.
- Increasing Awareness. Kutamani could also improve by spreading its message and raising funds.
To learn more, visit Kutamani.org. (784 words.)
Photo credit: Kutamani candidate. Children in Amboseli, Kenya who will benefit from the construction of a permanent school building; the project has already begun construction of school toilets for female students.
 “See What Climate Change Means for the World’s Poor.” National Geographic. Web. 4 Nov. 2016. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/151201-datapoints-climate-change-poverty-agriculture/>
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