The founder of Acumen, a social enterprise investor, recently observed that poverty is not primarily about money. The opposite of poverty is not wealth.

The opposite of poverty is dignity. Dignity is freedom. It is choice. It is having control over decisions in our lives.
-Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder of Acumen
The hills around Hakha, Chin State, Myanmar

Poverty’s opposite is dignity, and the freedom to make decisions that affect the direction of one’s own life builds dignity. If that is true, imagine how much dignity is built in enabling people to positively impact the lives of others!

In my work at ONOW Myanmar, We live and work in the midst of incredible poverty, and the work we do is meant to provide people with opportunity. Many people in poverty lack opportunity to reach their full capacity. We don’t consider ourselves a disaster relief or recovery organization, so we don’t often get a close-up view of the level of destruction that Hakha, Chin State experienced in massive landslides last July.

A street in Hakha after landslides in July 2015. 1/5th of the city’s population lost their homes.

But our involvement in the recovery efforts was about restoring the dignity of people whose homes were destroyed. The new businesses started there are meeting community needs, and helping the business-owners themselves rebuild their own lives. Check out the short video here.

The work of ONOW empowers people to have a voice in the direction of their own life. We help them clarify their plan, provide the loan capital to give them a push, and the mentoring to guide them after launch. The work of ONOW recognizes that people have a God-given potential — a creativity that, if tapped, can unleash itself in projects and businesses that impact the families, friends and communities around the Entrepreneur.

And that broader community impact really builds dignity in an individual, and resilience in the community.

New business owners who are launching print shops, groceries, looms and vegetable shops.
A little silliness begets more silliness!