As recent books like When Helping Hurts, The Poor Will Be Glad, and Toxic Charity bring to light, economic self-sustainability is a necessary component to any organization’s or program’s long-term results and successes. Orphan and at-risk community care projects are not an exception to this rule. To have any chance at long-term success, there needs to be real ownership and buy-in by the community serving and being served by the project. This “ownership” and “buy-in” can come through revenue-generating businesses, other entrepreneurial ventures, and “sweat equity” in various ways. The important thing is that it happens so that the project does not reinforce a dependency on outsiders that is ingrained in so much of the developing world.
At La Providencia, we are working on several self-sustainability projects, including a coffee farm, a vegetable garden, a store, a retreat center, sliding-scale tuition at Academia La Providencia, and sliding-scale payments at the John Eaves Medical Clinic. Our staff is working with investors, advisors, and local community members to start these businesses and projects with the hope that they will eventually generate enough revenue to fund all of La Providencia’s operations.