We have supported thousands of people across the world to develop sustainable livelihoods since 1984

Action on Poverty was founded in 1984 by three engineers, Rob Hitchings, Jim Tanburn and Michael Walsby. They had seen for themselves the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of communities in developing countries and were inspired to provide a little extra help. The three engineers set to work from the back of one of their garages, designing tools and equipment for small enterprises, such as clamps and metal sheet rollers, as well as providing technical expertise. We also designed tools for small businesses supported by Practical Action (formerly ITDG). This was the start of our long-term commitment to support people living in poverty to build their self-reliance and develop small enterprises. Michael was awarded an OBE in 2006 for his work on enterprise development in Africa.

Over the years we have supported thousands of people across the world to develop sustainable livelihoods – in Africa and Asia, as well as parts of Central America and the Middle East. Initially this was through training courses, but to maximise our impact, we have built long-term partnerships with numerous local organisations in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. The first of these were in Uganda and Kenya in 1992. We also deepened our approach by committing to tackling the root causes of poverty alongside providing practical support to help people develop sustainable livelihoods, and addressing inequalities is a fundamental component of our work today.

“We have maintained our focus and drive to build the self-reliance of vulnerable people.”

Although we have remained a small organisation within the UK, we have expanded our impact whilst increasing our cost-effectiveness. Our partnerships with local organisations are crucial to ensure that our work is sustainable and have enabled many more vulnerable people to earn sustainable incomes to support themselves and their families.