Social and Economic Development

Social and Economic Development

For communities to be rebuilt and lives restored, families must have a chance to break the cycle of poverty and dependence on outside assistance. With the hope of creating sustainable, self-sufficient communities, our team implements a broad range of capacity-building programs (both social and economic) that promote diverse participation, local responsibility, and skill development.

We believe building local capacity is accomplished by educating individual beneficiaries and mentoring local organizations and institutions to increase their ability to effectively work within their villages. The goal of our social development initiatives are sustainability, independence, and self-sufficiency, all of which are difficult to accomplish without financial stability. In turn, we offer creative economic development programs that give communities a chance to receive training, earn income, and launch new small businesses.

Small-Medium Enterprise Development

Small and medium enterprises are often the engines that keep communities growing. They provide an opportunity to increase income and generate employment opportunities. Our team offers creative and multifaceted economic development programs that focus on increasing the capacity of small and medium sized enterprises.

Each program is designed to build and strengthen the relationships between community members and their local, regional and national markets. Programs are developed contextually based on the individual’s skills and resources, and often include training in basic business skills and management.  This combination encourages communities to graduate from reliance and dependence on international aid, and towards a process that builds on the ingenuity of people in thriving markets.

Vocational Training and Education

Across the world and across all industries, a successful business, and economy, is dependent on educated, highly skilled workers. Our team offers a variety of vocational training and employment opportunities to help communities reestablish livelihoods and earn an income to support their families. Our projects are designed to build local capacity whenever possible, whether that be through knowledge sharing or skills training.

For instance, instead of purchasing construction materials from a large manufacturer, SFL will train local men in carpentry, hire them to produce doors and windows, and then use the materials in new shelter projects. In order to benefit the local economy, SFL employs from within the community and purchases materials locally whenever available.

Access to Financial Services

Despite significant progress and the increased technical and financial resources devoted to financial inclusion, many people around the world still lack access to financial services. Over the years, we have implemented a variety of programs that connect community enterprises to financial services, such as banks or cooperatives. In addition, we provide direct financial assistance in the form of micro and small loans, income generating assets (such as chickens and cows), and facilitate investment in local enterprises.

The provision of startup capital paves the way for sustainable ventures and market engagement, and provides an opportunity to empower women to become active participants in their communities and markets. As a result, families have expanded agricultural production, purchased livestock, started small retail ventures, and initiated other creative enterprises within their community.

Community-Based Organizations

Community-based organizations (CBOs) are imperative to building local capacity and generating sustainable communities. Our programs enable residents to establish and operate CBOs that address various civic and social issues. Every CBO determines its own mission and emphasis, whether it be for business training, financial credits, vocational workshop trades, women’s health education, clean water projects, community improvement projects, or HIV-AIDS and drug/narcotics awareness.

We believe that our role is that of a mentor and trainer. We work alongside CBOs, enabling them to develop their own mission, operational plan, organizational structure, and to officially register the CBO within their country. In conjunction with these activities, we offer training in basic organizational skills, including leadership, strategic planning, financial management, communication, grant writing, report writing, public relations, and ethics and accountability.


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"When the road was completed, we came back and realized that the road had also brought peace with it." ~Bourama

Mustafa Omar
Chief Executive Officer

Mustafa Omar has worked in Shelter For Life’s field projects and headquarters organizational management positions, leading operations and business development around the world. Mr. Omar has managed and overseen a variety of projects in some of the world’s most difficult places to work, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, and South Sudan. He holds a degree in Economics from University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, and a graduate degree in Urban Planning from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Gordon Wright
Vice Chairman

Gordon A. Wright is Founder and President of over 40 years with JIMI International and is an Elder at Tulsa Christian Fellowship. Mr. Wright owned and operated a lawn and tree service business for nearly 15 years. Mr. Wright also served with the US Army for three years in the 1960s.Two of Mr. Wright’s years were spent in South Korea as a Brigade Intelligence Sergeant. Mr. Wright has provided mentoring and counseling to spiritual leaders around the world; with specific attention to individuals in Russia, Ukraine and former Soviet Bloc countries. Mr. Wright helped to found and direct East/West Resources International and Global Assistance Partners International. Mr. Wright has served as one of the original founding board of directors for Shelter For Life International. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, Gordon grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.