ZOE has one primary goal – helping children help themselves. It may sound simple, but our strategies for achieving that goal are anything but. ZOE strives to provide orphans and vulnerable children living in extreme poverty the skills, tools, and resources they need to become completely self-reliant. For each orphan, the achievement of self-reliance looks different. Some become farmers, some become tailors, some return to school, and yet others join together and run large-scale businesses such as restaurants and wholesale markets. However, after three years, our overall goal is the same: children and young adults, full of hope, pride and dignity, able to provide for themselves and their siblings, without being dependent on outside support.
ZOE's empowerment program employs three strategies in order to make it successful:
- Locally-based: ZOE employs all indigenous staff to implement the program in each country. Children work with supportive staff that speak their language, understand their culture, and know their community.
- Comprehensive: ZOE seeks to address all the issues that hold children in poverty, often simultaneously. First, children are also connected to one another in supportive working groups with 60-80 members. Then, through training in business and financial management, agriculture, disease prevention, child rights, and other essential life skills, ZOE ensures that these children have a strong foundation on which to build their new life. ZOE also shares the good news of God's love, and connects children with their local church to allow them to grow in their faith. Finally, ZOE provides orphans with micro-grants as well as other resources such as seeds and tools, enabling them to start small businesses that grow and thrive.
- Child-led: Through ZOE, children take the lead in their own journey out of poverty. First, ZOE helps children articulate their dream for a better life. Then, ZOE empowers them to set and achieve the goals that will make their dreams come true. Children make their own decisions and then ZOE, the staff, the community, and their adult mentor, support them in building a better life.
ZOE has grown in financial support from $1.25 million in 2010 to $4.4 million in 2016, based in large part from the success of its Hope Companion partnership fundraising approach. ZOE facilitates partnerships between working groups of 60-100 orphans in our program countries and Hope Companions – individuals, churches and groups in United States. As the children work to transform their lives, the Hope Companions provide financial, prayer and emotional support, walking with the children in their journey to overcome poverty. Hope Companions often visit the children in country to show their support and pride in person. This fundraising model has proved transformative for both the children and the supporting donors, and interest continues to grow.
ZOE also has a growing base of monthly and annual donors, which we inform regularly about the progress being made by orphans in the program through a robust communications and social media strategy.
ZOE takes accountability and transparency seriously as an organization, and as well as excellence and training. ZOE has recently promoted a Pan-Africa Coordinator based in Kenya who ensures all the field staff members in the program countries are well-trained and have a full understanding of the ZOE model. In Zimbabwe, ZOE recently appointed a Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator who manages a robust reporting system that both informs donors about group progress, as well as identifies challenges and successes. ZOE has recently implemented an evaluation system that will collect annual, anonymous data about the children enrolled in the programs. This data will include a number of measureable indicators of progress, including health, school enrollment and entrepreneurship.
In 2014, ZOE expanded into three new countries, significantly increasing the reach of its empowerment program into a total of seven countries in three continents. As opportunities present themselves in terms of financial support and readiness in an area of need, ZOE will continue to pursue ways to reach as many children as possible with our life-changing empowerment program. We will continue to balance the need to provide a robust implementation of our current program areas with the tremendous needs of children around the world.
In 2016, we served just over 33,000 children.