Kristi Drake – A Reflection on Agros
A Reflection on Agros / Tierras de Vida
August 1st, 2023
Love the poor. That is the work of Agros, a work that is profoundly complex and requires much effort. We walk alongside tender families that are the poorest of the poor until they are strong. It takes commitment in the hearts of the families and constant innovation from Agros to gain the sustainable impacts and success we are striving for.
As an Agros Board member, I have seen the incredible determination and wisdom behind Agros’ intent to improve the lives of these venerable people. In 2015, I visited a new village in Nicaragua and saw the faces of these families so scared but working hard to learn how to grow crops on their land newly purchased from Agros. Upon my return in 2019, I saw successful farmers whose fear was replaced with pride and a sense of accomplishment. They were seeing the successes of the harvests – vegetables and coffee were providing profit that they were paying back their land loan in record time and gaining a net worth that they have never had in their whole lives. Agros staff was there with encouragement and support. Including discussing new growing techniques and new marketplace opportunities to improve lives even more. I was seeing hope. That village, La Bendición, is now the location of a Harvest of Hope Center that is extending agricultural education to surrounding communities as well.
In Guatemala, Agros’ newest program is the Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund (WEF). As an entrepreneur one can only imagine how this project has taken my heart. To increase the number of women-led businesses, Agros has launched WEF to provide capital, technical assistance and advisory services for rural women who want to start their own business and improve their household income. These women are farmers, weavers, store owners, furniture makers, and the list goes on. They are lining up for this economic opportunity and the payback rate is nearly 100%.
As Skip Li mentions in the film, Tierras de Vida, the successes experienced by these individuals and families bring dignity. This requires our long-term commitment to land, donors, partners, and the tender people we serve. As of July 2023, we’ve served 8,216 individuals – that’s 1,571 families and 91 villages. These are individual lives improved to the next generation and beyond.
How could I not be part of this work to stop generational poverty? We are loving the poor. Agros is surrounded by God’s grace and mercy. In the film, Maria, an eight-year-old child, already sees the hope of her future. That hopeful future is the work of Agros.
Kristi Drake is the Owner of Le Panier, Inc., a French bakery in Pike Place Market. She is former-chair of the SPU – School of Business, Government and Economics Executive Advisory Board. Kristi currently serves on the Board of Directors for Agros International and will become Chair in October 2023.
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