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Economic Empowerment Fights Poverty


When we shop with purpose and choose products that care for the makers, more people have fair and living wages in their jobs. When we empower people with jobs, we help prevent abuse and generational poverty cycles. Economic empowerment fights poverty at its root.

Hard Stories in the World

In the realm of social justice, we often talk about help for survivors of exploitation – this is crucial work, caring for vulnerable people after they have been mistreated.

It is heartbreaking to hear the stories of slavery, coercion, human trafficking, and mutilation that are daily life in many parts of the world.

Some days I can barely stand against the weight of it.

As much as I try to focus on the positive and what GOOD is happening in the world, there is still so much evil.

But. There is hope.

Prevention is Possible

What about prevention, seeking out the causes of these problems? What if, while we support past survivors, we could also get ahead of the issue for future generations? Then could it be true that the tool of economic empowerment fights poverty and abuse proactively?

Of course, I'm not the first to mention this. Globally and locally, prevention measures are well underway for at-risk people:

  • A growing number of charities and governments focus on education and opportunities for children, especially girls. Empowering women can lift whole communities.
  • Agricultural programs teach farmers how to maintain and grow their crop yields in sustainable ways.
  • Local friends in Wichita are teaching middle school students about their rights and how to watch for the signs of human trafficking.

So prevention IS on the rise.

Fair and Direct Trade Empower Makers and Farmers

Fair Trade and Direct Trade are another way to prevent poverty and abuse. Shoppers are starting to seek out goods and foods that guarantee people were not exploited in the supply chain.

When we partner with artisans and farmers in the developing world, we join them in creating connection and job opportunities they would NEVER otherwise have.

Economic empowerment can be prevention, a proactive measure. Vulnerable people without jobs and choices are at higher risk of abuse. On the other hand, vulnerable people who can make a living wage can grow in confidence and stability.

If a mom can provide for her family, she may not be forced to enter or stay in an abusive relationship, for the sake of a roof over their heads.

When coffee farmers in Mexico take a HUGE risk and quit doing business with a controlling giant coffee corporation (take a guess who -- more here), the farmers can make sure their children continue the family business on their own terms.

Wherever we can partner with business people, farmers, and artisans in developing countries, so they can create a sustainable livelihood and maintain the dignity of managing their own lives, let’s do that.

Truly, economic empowerment fights poverty at the root. We need more of that good in the world.


If you run a social enterprise or are involved in economic empowerment, we want to hear from you! Please send an email to to share your story and/or ask questions about these ideas.

Hey! I'm Katy Penner, Founder and Content Strategist. I love to eat outdoors, travel and meet Fair Trade artisans, and run occasional 10k races. 

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