Let’s Make a Deal

Written by Plant With Purpose on June 3, 2010 in General

by Aly Lewis

When I was little, my younger brother, who would begrudgingly clear his dinner plate and haphazardly splash water on a few greasy pans when asked to do the dishes, would miraculously transform into a busy beaver when given the chance to earn some dough. Always looking to make a deal, my brother would do any chore, no matter how difficult or disgusting, as long as it was in his economic best interest. He would weed eat through blackberry bramble in the mid-summer heat or rid the backyard of dog poop if it meant he could buy more chocolate milks, Snickers, or Pokemon cards.

As my parents quickly discovered, money is a powerful motivator. Why should it be any different in the developing world?

Plant With Purpose understands how effective, and necessary, economic incentives can be. In working with communities to reforest watersheds and restore their environments, Plant With Purpose recognizes the need for “environmental” activities such as reforestation or switching to eco-friendly latrines to be economically profitable. And, unlike my brother, these families aren’t just trying to stock up on junk food or buy the latest Heely’s roller shoes; for hundreds of thousands of rural poor around the world, finding ways to make money is a matter of life and death.

That’s why Plant With Purpose’s integrated program empowers rural farmers to restore productivity to their land in order to create economic opportunity out of environmental restoration.

One exciting illustration of how Plant With Purpose makes environmental restoration an economically profitable endeavor can be seen in our Tanzania program. Plant With Purpose has trained over 1,000 Tanzanian farmers in sustainable agriculture techniques. As a result, farmers have experienced improved soil quality and increased crop yields. In fact, 76% of farmers working with Plant With Purpose have witnessed improved soil quality on their land. The improvement in soil quality has also led to increased yields ranging between 50% to 200% more production, and enables farmers to extend their growing season, creating greater economic stability.

Building on the program’s success, Plant With Purpose is collaborating with USAID to implement a three-year program that will help farmers maximize local markets to receive more money for the crops they grow, improving their livelihoods and fostering long-term growth and prosperity. As farmers, especially women, build their financial and agricultural skills as well as their confidence, they are able to contribute to family income and well-being in significant ways, such as providing their families with quality fruits and vegetables to consume or sending their children to school with the extra income they are able to earn from increased yields.

This is just one example of how Plant With Purpose empowers farmers to create economic opportunity out of environmental restoration. By combining personal transformation, economic renewal, and environmental restoration, Plant With Purpose is bringing hope and dignity to the rural poor.

Now that’s a deal my brother would be proud of!


Aly Lewis is Plant With Purpose’s Grant Writer. She researches funding opportunities, writes proposals, and submits progress reports on funding received. She also writes the content for Plant With Purpose’s Sponsor A Village program. Pictured to the left is Aly (the tiger) and her two brothers on Halloween of 1990-something. Her deal maker brother is the little dragon.

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