Every day, I feel incredibly inspired when I read about the medical personnel, foodbank workers, delivery workers, community workers, grocery store personnel, teachers and so many others who are putting their lives on the line to save lives and keep us going.

In this spirit, I’m also grateful to our government officials, who have made it easier to stand with each other and give back to those in need.

At a basic level, with the CARES Act:

  • 100% of your Adjustable Gross Income (AGI) is now tax deductible — up from 60%.
  • You can take deductions for up to $300 in charitable contributions without itemizations.
  • You can receive stimulus checks if you are eligible in the amount of $1,200 (or less).

You might be a financially fortunate person, who’s in a position to donate your stimulus check. Or you might be someone who wants to help, and in a position to take advantage of the new tax rules.

Personally, I’m doubling down on my support for the BOMA Project (full disclosure: I’m the chairman of their board). The BOMA Project gives women in Africa the confidence and skills to start new businesses, and “graduates” them out of poverty. Here are three reasons I’m supporting the BOMA Project – and hope that you will too:

1. BOMA’s graduation approach does more than deliver aid. Much more.

Traditional poverty aid approaches are often not effective in the long-term. We’ve all seen scenarios where aid keeps flowing in, but nothing really changes. The BOMA Project doesn’t deliver aid. Instead, it empowers the “ultra-poor” to learn life and leadership skills, and makes them self-reliant, so they can bring themselves out of poverty.

We have had 30 years of government and donor funded projects in our county and have seen no changes in the levels of poverty. BOMA came here just 18 months ago with a pilot project and already we have seen close to 10,000 women and children move out of poverty.

Julius Leseetho, Deputy Governor of Samburu County

It’s like that saying about teaching a man to fish. But why teach men, when you can create a more lasting change by teaching women?

2. The BOMA Project empowers women

Emergencies like the current COVID-19 crisis disproportionately impact women and young girls in more traditional societies. For example, they are expected to care for the sick, and assume roles that place them at a greater risk.

The BOMA Project trains women over a two-year period with life, leadership and business skills to move themselves and their families out of poverty. I’ve personally seen the difference. On my last visit to Kenya in 2019, I had the good fortune of meeting with these women entrepreneurs.

In the graduation program, recipients of livestock were inspired to work more hours, even in areas unrelated to the livestock. They took more odd jobs. Their savings rose. Their mental health improved.

Nicholas Kristoff, The New York Times

The women who were entering the mentoring process were often shy and reserved. The women who had graduated were truly confident and empowered. They had become courageous leaders who are shaping a new world for all the boys and girls who will follow.

But graduation is not a new approach. It’s been tried and tested around the world. So what’s different about the BOMA Project?

3. The BOMA project is data-driven

What really sets the BOMA Project is their willingness to adopt new technologies, and their culture of data-driven analysis. It’s something I can respect after a career in finance.

To give just two examples, they use Salesforce to monitor the impact of their work in real-time. And today, they are using technologies like Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) to train women entrepreneurs in the age of social distancing.

I’ve had people reach out and ask me about supporting local causes right here in the United States of America. I am also doing that – and encourage you to support the brave men and women who are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic right here at home.

But I also know that the coronavirus pandemic has made one thing clear. We no longer live in a world of national borders. Today, a proverbial butterfly can flap its wings in a faraway country – and cause irreparable damage to our own.

But just how can we stop a person in a faraway country from doing something that causes widespread damage to our shared environment?

Jane Goodall recently said, “You can’t just stop somebody doing something when they have absolutely no money to support themselves or their families. But at least this pandemic should have taught us the kind of things to do to prevent another one.”

Today, more than ever, we must do everything to empower the most vulnerable people, no matter where they are. We must collectively uplift each other, so that none of us is forced to make a choice that can harm us all.

When this pandemic passes, I hope you will have the opportunity to travel with me to Samburu County in Northern Kenya to see a BOMA woman stare down a man, and get him to buy a goat at her price. It’s a simple enough interaction – but it inspires so much hope that our world is moving in the right direction.

Perry Boyle, Chair, Board of Directors, The BOMA Project

How Can you Help?

You can help by making a donation to support woman entrepreneurs in the short and long term.

  • Give $25 and help purchase face mask sets for 8 mentors working at the frontlines of the crisis.
  • $100 – Help purchase a monthly supply of hand sanitizers for 20 BOMA staff members.
  • $300 – Sponsor all of the startup costs for one business operated by three women.
  •  $1200 – Help 3 women start their own businesses and graduate themselves and their families (18 people total) out of extreme poverty.