Written by Hanna Lee
Although Jeff Power studied architecture and engineering in college, his time spent volunteering with juvenile delinquents was the most formative for him. His life long inclination to help others eventually led him to become a church Pastor. Working at a variety of churches, Power was regularly involved in hands-on initiatives to help the local poor. Eventually, he was introduced to the Swiss nonprofit, Global Hope Network International (GHNI), based in Geneva and accompanied the nonprofit on a trip to Africa. The organization works with African villages for three to six years and helps them solve key problems. âI loved their relationship-based model that offers low cost, low tech-oriented solutions for people in developing countries to essentially help themselves,â Power explains.
GHNI achieves transformational community development by addressing five common problems facing developing nations: water, education, wellness, food, and income. According to Power, the water committee will find ways to build water filters. âIn a lot of places, people drink out of the same stream that animals and cattle bathe and go to the bathroom in,â he says. Food committees teach villages how to use drip irrigation and farm effectively in using small greenhouses to make plenty of food so they never starve again. âWeâll help with education by building classrooms,â says Power. âI was at a village in Kenya four years ago where no children were in school,â he remembers. âNow they have a principal, vice principal, six teachers and 150 kids from the village getting a primary education.â Being that most villagersâ individual income is less than $1 a day, GHNI helps villagers develop entrepreunrial ideas and funds them through loans to make their idea a reality.
GHNIâs Global President eventually invited Power to join the team as the United States Director to increase more American participation in the organization. Power started involving businesses, schools, churches and rotaries around the world to donate to GHNI. Â âWe help villages learn to transform themselves out of severe poverty,â says Power. âWe help them to be strong and independent â itâs exciting work where we see real results.â
His travels with the nonprofit introduced him to some of the best coffee fields and farmers in the world. It was this realization that prompted Power to launch the for-profit company, Pangeo Coffee, in order to raise funds for GHNI. âA friend and supporter of our work gave us an idea when we were headed to Ethiopia. âYou guys will be in the worldâs most amazing coffee country,â he said,â Power recalls âLet people pre-order bags of the famous Harrar coffee to help fund your trip and the village work. Then get the coffee when youâre in Harrar and bring it back to them.â
Pangeo Coffee stimulates and mobilizes the economy by supporting local coffee growers and then donates a high percentage of profits back to GHNI. At least $1 from every bag of coffee sold goes straight back to the people and villages. Once Pangeo starts making profits, their goal is to donate significantly more of the proceeds. âI started Pangeo as a socially driven for-profit because I think social entrepreneurship can raise money for causes in a significant way,â Power explains. âWe offer something people love to drink and the profits go to helping others. So, buying a bag of coffee tends to garner more word of mouth then simply saying âyou should donate here.ââ
Pangeo Coffee supporters also have the opportunity to accompany Power on âVillage Trips.âÂ He brings along volunteers on every single trip he takes. Most recently, Power visited eastern Ethiopia for four months and took volunteers ranging in age from 27-41 years old. âPeople love to go and see how theyâve helped some of the poorest areas of the world in their own small way,â Power says. âIt proves you donât need millions to make a difference.â
One of the most gratifying part of Powerâs experience with GHNI and Pangeo is coming back to a village years later and seeing the progress the people have achieved in such a small amount of time. âYou got back to these villages and see babies plumper, their skin color vibrant, clean flowing water, kids sitting in classroomsâŠ itâs just astounding,â recalls Power. âPeople in the village stand taller and smile wider with confidence. I donât know most of the languages of the places I go, but you just fall in love with villages considered to be some of the poorest in the world and witness their amazing progress.â
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