Yesterday, as I walked along a forest path in Ethiopia, I saw the back-breaking work of a woman carrying firewood down a mountain. It was grueling work. But she persisted because she needed to sell the wood if she wished to support her family. Our role as the Partners Worldwide network is to find ways to ease that burden for historically marginalized entrepreneurs so that they can flourish the way God intended, along with their families and communities.
One of the ways we’re doing this is by “catalyzing inclusive and resilient entrepreneurial ecosystems.” But what is an ecosystem, really?
When we hear the word “ecosystem,” we might think of the kind we learned about in science class. We think of a forest and everything in it: animals, insects, trees, soil, water, etc.
But an ecosystem is more than its components: it’s all about the relationships between the individual parts.
In the Partners Worldwide network our ecosystems involve relationships between market players: entrepreneurs, LCI partners, BA volunteers, banks, input providers, and more. You can find an ecosystem centered around smallholder dairy farmers in India and another surrounding small-scale soybean growers who supply poultry producers in Southern Africa.
Every PW partnership has an ecosystem surrounding it, a complex web of connections and relationships in each market and geography that positions entrepreneurs for success in the marketplace.
Ecosystems are how markets function. Many of us never think about the ecosystems that benefit us. They simply work. Yet, without them, the fruits of our labor would be severely limited. We’ve long understood the power of partnership—ecosystems connect partnerships to the broader marketplace. This is why building redemptive ecosystems is so important for people to thrive. And that is why building ecosystems that multiply productivity, increase efficiencies, and close access gaps are at the heart of our strategy to reach our 2030 goals. Yet we cannot build them alone.
We recently saw the fruits of this realization at last month’s Ecuador summit. Our partners invited over 200 people to the table: businesspeople, churches, government officials, and more, all inspired to join the fight against poverty. We received 52 commitments from people that want to join the network to walk alongside Ecuadorian entrepreneurs that are ending poverty in their own communities and 3 organizations expressed interest in launching new partnerships to extend the reach of this impactful network.
This is what we can accomplish when we recognize that we can’t do this alone.
And it’s not just happening in Ecuador. We’re seeing this growth throughout our entire network, from Zambia to Indonesia.
As a member of the global PW network, you're part of the ecosystem, too. As part of this ecosystem, you have the opportunity to further your impact by making a gift today.
Thank you for joining us to work alongside partners and entrepreneurs to create economic environments where everyone can flourish. We couldn’t do it alone. Together, let us multiply the lights of redemptive businesspeople around the world so that they, their families, and their communities can experience the fullness of abundant life.
~Roxanne Addink deGraaf, Director of Global Strategy and Impact