Pathway to Prosperity

Photo by Heidi Yanulis for CRS

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CRS works with smallholder farm families because they are at the heart of our mission to serve the poorest of the poor. Our aim is to move families from subsistence farming where many struggle to feed their own family, to a fully functioning agri-business in which they are contributing to the local and global food supply.

With the right inputs and capacities, any family with land of adequate quality can feed itself. At this stage, while still monetarily poor, a stable food supply and income allows them the breathing room to plan and build.

From there, farmers grow by learning key skills to operate a successful business.

They learn how to organize, manage resources, gain financial strength, adapt to changing conditions, and acquire marketing and business skills. When farmers are ready, we introduce them to markets. With those connections they can begin to earn more for their products.

CRS’s Pathway to Prosperity illustrates the process and progression from emergency to subsistence to agri-business. Please click the image below for details into the Pathway to Prosperity process. 


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Any work to end poverty must meet people where they are. The Pathway recognizes three general states in chronic poverty:

  • Recover: Most of the people CRS serves throughout the world live at or just above the poverty line. They are emerging from a disaster or barely eking out a living. Many earn less than $2 a day — a general indicator of abject poverty. At this stage, CRS serves smallholder farm families in establishing a stable income so they can begin to plan their escape from poverty. 
  • Build: Farmers may be stable but extremely vulnerable to setbacks. They lack the contemporary skills required to improve their farms and advance economically. Without support, they are unlikely, to improve their standard of living. CRS introduces contemporary skills and connects farmers to local markets. This stage can also include a Rebound period.
    • Smallholder farmers need five key Smart Skills to progress along the Pathway to Prosperity. The five skills are group organization, financial management, natural resource management, innovation and research, and marketing and enterprise.
  • Grow: Farmers who are ready to grow may have healthy farms but need to enter more lucrative markets, join with other growers to increase their competitiveness and acquire business skills. In the right markets, members of this group can move quickly out of poverty. CRS serves farmers by increasing their market competitiveness and connections.