Two chicken farmers and their chickens.

About us

Look at poverty differently and you’ll see grassroots entrepreneurs, full of energy and ideas.  We help turn their skills and potential into jobs. They find a way up and out of poverty.

Hand in Hand International is a member of the Hand in Hand Network, a global group of NGOs that has worked in 14 countries and counting. Our goal is to eradicate poverty in the communities where we work.

In the 1980s and ’90s, Percy Barnevik ran some of the world’s biggest companies, changing the way business was done. But it wasn’t until a trip to India in the early-2000s that he discovered his “biggest and most important project.”

“I was visiting southern India and I saw this terrible abuse of child labour. I couldn’t sit by and do nothing, so I started to pay the factory owners to free them,” says Percy, now 79. “At one point I was in mind to release 200,000 children, which becomes quite a lot of money. But I couldn’t guarantee they’d stay free. I realised then that I had to attack the root cause of the problem: poverty.”

Tackling a problem as big as poverty in a country as big as India, Percy reasoned, would require an NGO committed to speed, scale and efficiency – the same principles he’d championed as a CEO. When he couldn’t find that NGO, he built it himself.

Today, Hand in Hand has worked in 14 countries and counting, helping to transform more than 15 million lives. Find out more about our journey below.

Two indian children sitting in the street playing with bicycle parts.

Indian children play in the street

2003: Percy recruits local development specialist Dr Kalpana Sankar, a nuclear physicist by training, to help launch Hand in Hand. Together, they begin to develop our livelihoods model.

Two Afghan men discussing a craft-work.

Honey producers | Afghanistan

2007: Word of Hand in Hand’s success in India reaches Afghanistan, and then-President Hamid Karzai takes notice. Hand in Hand Afghanistan is established at Karzai’s request, with staff from India leading the way. Hand in Hand’ emphasis on South-to-South knowledge transfer continues to this day.

A shop owner discussing her business plan with Hand in Hand Southern Africa staff.

Naomi Masilo | Shop owner | South Africa

2008: Hand in Hand Southern Africa launches in Bryanston, a suburb of Johannesburg, with three staff and a cramped office. Today, our network employs dozens staff in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Hannah Haciku, a tailor in Nairobi, Kenya with two children

Hannah Haciku | Tailor | Nairobi, Kenya

2010: Hand in Hand Eastern Africa launches in Nairobi, Kenya. A network hub and regional leader is born.

Group exercise | Cambodia

Group exercise | Cambodia

2012: Hand in Hand India launches a pilot in Cambodia.

Gloria, a farmer, standing in front of her crops holding a bunch of carrots.

Gloria Kabagwira | Organic produce farmer | Rwanda

2013: Hand in Hand Eastern Africa partners with CARE International to empower some 80,000 Rwandans, mostly women, to work their way of poverty. When the project concludes in 2016, more than 115,000 jobs are created.

A group of Cambodian children playing.

Children play in Myanmar

2013: Hand in Hand India continues its regional expansion by setting up in Myanmar.

New York City

2014: Friends of Hand in Hand International launches in New York City, enabling US citizens to make tax deductible donations.

Faith Makundi | Member | Tanzania

Hand in Hand Eastern Africa expands into Tanzania, targeting Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions in the north of the country.

2022 Hand in Hand (Germany) eV was founded. The aim, to deepen our activities in the DACH region.