Growing up in Ecuador, our founder Davis Smith was moved by the inequality and poverty he witnessed there. It’s that experience that, in part, motivated Davis to start a company that would be a vehicle for alleviating the poverty he observed throughout Latin America.
Ecuador is also home to Mt. Cotopaxi, the active volcano that served as another source of inspiration for Davis as he built his company. As a sustainably minded brand, we also love that Ecuador was the first country ever to formally recognize the rights of nature in its constitution.
For these and more reasons, we’re beyond excited to welcome CARE Ecuador as our newest nonprofit partner. A branch of the nonprofit organization CARE International, CARE Ecuador has had a presence in Ecuador since 1959, and has officially had a dedicated branch working toward gender equity and community resilience since 1962.
Photo by Paddy Dowling/CARE - Translator Martin Fuentes entertains children at a shelter for Venezuelan refugees in Ecuador.
For the rest of 2022, our grant to CARE Ecuador will help provide immediate assistance to those affected by flooding in the Cotopaxi Province, as well as to the growing number of Venezuelan refugees fleeing to Ecuador. Beginning in 2023, our partnership will assist CARE Ecuador’s innovative work supporting food security and gender equity. CARE Ecuador program manager Andrés Córdova says of our newfound partnership: “We saw that we could be a link between CARE and the Cotopaxi Foundation for humanitarian assistance, especially to women.”
Currently, CARE Ecuador has projects in three provinces: Cotopaxi, Bolivar, and Chimborazo. Our Cotopaxi Foundation support will help build resilience in these three communities. In these provinces, the organization is focused on improving food security, fighting climate change, and supporting gender equity. Here’s a deeper look at these three challenges and how CARE Ecuador is tackling them.
In Ecuador, 27% of children under the age of two suffer from chronic malnutrition. That statistic is even more startling among indigenous children: 39% (UNICEF). Poverty also grew in the country in 2022, especially in rural areas. This past year, 22.7% of people living in rural areas were affected by extreme poverty, which is commonly defined as those living on less than $1.90 per day.
Photo by Peter Caton/LendwithCARE
To help those suffering from chronic malnutrition and this level of poverty, CARE Ecuador works to foster local (and social) economies, as well as improves access to land and resources. One example of their efforts is the Village Savings and Loan Association, which helps women safely store their money and provides them access to loans or capital.
Since the ‘80s, climate change has resulted in the loss of 30-50% of the Andean glaciers. It’s caused flooding, as well as droughts, which wreak havoc on agriculture and livelihoods.
The impacts of climate change also, of course, decrease food security by making farming more challenging. CARE Ecuador is working on teaching farmers the climate-resilient techniques they need to restore ecosystems and grow crops. The nonprofit also helps local governments plan for climate change through sustainable agriculture.
To address the increase in disasters caused or exacerbated by climate change, CARE Ecuador helps with emergency preparedness, resilience, and recovery, including restoring water sources and connecting communities with services.
Photo by Ana Maria Buitron/CARE - Participants from the Federation of Women of Sucumbíos (a CARE partner) meet to plan activities for International Women’s Day.
CARE Ecuador knows that it can’t meet its goal of overcoming poverty without equality among all Ecuadorians. That’s why it centers its aid on women and girls. Given Ecuador’s high rates of violence and self-harm impacting women, CARE programs attempt to provide female participants access to education without the fear or threat of violence.
Another key tactic is helping more women achieve leadership roles. In the province of Cotopaxi, CARE Ecuador program manager Andrés Córdova explains, “We want to work on empowering women, preparing them against disasters, and giving them a voice in the decision-making process.” The nonprofit also partners with women-led organizations to help support their work.
If you want to join us in supporting CARE Ecuador, you can learn more at care.org.ec (use Google Translate to view in English), follow along on Instagram @care.ecuador, or donate to CARE International here.