Five Indian women sitting outside a house.

We aim to help millions of women lift themselves and their families out of poverty

Hand in Hand fights poverty with grassroots entrepreneurship. Our long-term goal is to eradicate poverty in the communities where we work. In the short term, that means raising enough funds in 2018-’19 to transform 120,000 lives.

Entrepreneurship wasn’t always our focus. Back in 2003, when co-founders Percy Barnevik and Dr Kalpana Sankar launched Hand in Hand, our goal was to get local children out of factories and into schools. But it soon became clear that in order to fix the problem, we’d have to attack child labour at its root: poverty. And what better way, thought Barnevik, drawing on decades of experience as one of Europe’s top CEOs, than with jobs.

“Our model, help to self-help, puts people’s destinies in their own hands. You train them, you coach them, but they decide for themselves about the future,” he says.

Achieving our goals won’t be easy. That’s why, in 2013, we launched an ambitious effort to scale up our operations by partnering with governments and like-minded NGOs.


Eradicate poverty

Long term, we aim to eradicate poverty in the communities where we work

Transform 70,000 lives

Short term, we aim to raise enough funds in ’21-’22 to transform 70,000 lives

Based on Guardian datablog charity donations list (minus FACE ratios for The Gavi Fund Affiliate and International Finance Facility for Immunisation Company)

$0.90 of every $1 goes to programmes

On average, the UK’s 10 biggest development NGOs spend $0.80

It sounds obvious, but the idea of fighting poverty with jobs – an equation so basic that most of us take it for granted in our own lives – has only recently taken centre stage in development. Hand in Hand equips our members with the skills and knowledge they need to make their own success, with some notable benefits.

  • Jobs break the cycle of dependency. Our success is complete only when an entrepreneur no longer needs us.
  • We work at the grassroots level, directly with the rural poor. State corruption, which prevents almost a third of development assistance from reaching its final destination, never has a chance to flourish.
  • An average of five family members benefit from every job we create – particularly for women, who make up over 90 percent of Hand in Hand entrepreneurs. That’s more children in school and more parents with access to life-saving medicine.

For these reasons and others, all backed by solid research,  jobs are finally catching on. In November 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a statement calling on African leaders to “work together to foster job creation and entrepreneurship throughout the continent as critical ways to build a more prosperous and sustainable future for all.” A year later, The World Bank published a landmark report – aptly titled ‘Jobs’ – noting the importance of employment. “Jobs are the cornerstone of economic and social development,” it said. “Indeed, development happens through jobs.” And in 2014, UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening said, “economic development is absolutely and without question, the only way we can ultimately defeat poverty.”

Fifteen years after the world’s governments, civil society organisations and citizens rallied around the UN Millennium Development Goals, some 1.2 billion people continue to live on less less than US $1.25 a day. Concentrated overwhelmingly in sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia, this ‘bottom billion’ remains largely untouched by the global project to eradicate poverty.

These are Hand in Hand’s people.

Global population (in billions) by income

Global poverty pie chart final 2

An average of five family members benefit from every job we create – particularly for women, who make up over 90 percent of Hand in Hand entrepreneurs. Conservatively estimating an average family size of four, then, some 250 million jobs are required to lift the bottom billion out of extreme poverty.

250 million jobs

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1 billion lifted from the bottom of the pyramid

Across the developing world, informal small- and medium-sized enterprises dominate the economic landscape. In India, for example, home to Hand in Hand’s largest operation, informal jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and more account for 90 percent of GDP.

Clearly, the public and formal private sectors cannot and will not provide the 250 million jobs required to lift the bottom billion out of poverty.

Developing world employment by sector

where will jobs come from pie chart final

But for all its size and dynamism, the informal sector cannot overcome poverty on its own. A lack of capital and business knowledge, along with barriers to accessing microcredit and crucial larger markets, keep millions from realising their potential. That’s where Hand in Hand comes in, providing would-be entrepreneurs with the skills and training they need to work their own way out of poverty – without fuelling the cycle of dependency.

In India, where our job creation model was first tried and tested, jobs cost as little as US $38 each to produce. In Afghanistan – our most challenging context, hampered by security concerns and difficult geography – that figure is approximately US $328. According to the Institute for the Study of Labor, other NGOs spend up to US $400 per person on training alone.