NGOs Throw Money at Poverty, and Then Declare Success

Mark Pendergrast, in his opus on coffee, tells us about Bill Fishbein, a coffee retailer from Rhode Island, who wanted to help small, poor, coffee farmers in Guatemala:


(p. 419) . . . , Fishbein wanted to do something to help.  At first, he worked with established nongovernment organizations (NGOs) but soon became disillusioned. Too often, the NGOs simply threw money at communities, then declared projects successful even without long-term improvements.  "It amounts to a network to move money around, to pull the heartstrings of donors," he complains.



Pendergrast, Mark. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. New York: Basic Books, 2000.


One thought on “NGOs Throw Money at Poverty, and Then Declare Success”

  1. While recognizing your desire to forever preserve collections of mini-truths, I’d like to comment on your entry so in the event a person who has not been blessed by the teachings of you (or someone like you) comes across the site, they may see some of the significance as I imagine it to be. Also, while it may not be important to you, I’d like more discussion on the site so I can learn and develop what I believe.
    Many people add lots of sugar and cream to their coffee in order to quickly “fix” the underlying problem: bad coffee. Likewise, many ngo’s and (most?) go’s throw money and aid at the people of poor countries. While often wasteful, people can pat themselves on the back and say “I helped, I prevented starvation, I…” and feel instantly gratified, though having fixed nothing. Others feel those actions mask the problem and delay what would be a permanent, self-sustaining solution: private ownership, free markets, free trade, rule of law (capitalism). While generally slower and less immediately gratifying than writing a check, seeing people prosper due to the fruits of their labor is preferable because it is sustainable and they are creating wealth.
    Gotta get back to studying the arbitrary, often non-sensical rule of law.

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