Sustainable Villages

Supporting social entrepreneurs

Since 1988, Anhart has funded more than 500 initiatives of grassroots organizations in East Africa and Haiti, through a program called Sustainable Villages, which has its own website here. The program provides capital grants and pay-forward business loans for projects that improve the health, education and well-being of communities.

Here’s how Sustainable Villages empowers entrepreneurs to carry out their plans to build small businesses, maternity clinics and schools.

Community-based organizations

Anhart works with these local groups, which are deeply embedded in African history and culture. They are similar to non-profits, but usually formed by a group of neighbours. In the absence of many government services for health, education and social security, the members of a CBO can only rely on each other. They pool resources and share skills to do farming or another small business.

Women Alliance and Children Affairs is a CBO in rural Uganda. The members farm together and many of them are taking care of orphan children.

When we are choosing to partner with a group, we consider the following factors: 

  • the organization’s ability to impact a community
  • the leaders’ willingness to learn new skills, including management of funds, accounting, record-keeping and reporting 
  • whether women are involved in leadership roles
  • the organization’s commitment to paying their loans forward to benefit other groups

Local leadership

Anhart relies on Africa-based regional leaders, all of whom have successfully founded and operated CBOs, completed projects, and mentored other groups. These leaders are instrumental in helping other groups organize, selecting projects for funding, and monitoring projects. 

Start-up grant

The first step in the partnership is for the group to organize and incorporate. Anhart provides a $300 start-up grant to cover the following expenses: 

  • Cell phone. Data and cell service is affordable and accessible in regions where Anhart operates. A cell phone allows CBO members to communicate with Anhart’s regional leaders, share progress and ideas with other CBOs, and upload receipts and reports to the Anhart database. 
  • Registration. Anhart encourages individuals to form community-based organizations, (CBO). Most African countries have a legal structure for a CBO with benefits including lower or no taxes on their business activities. 
  • Bank account. This is required for transfer of funds and accountability. Financial services in many African countries are expensive and beyond the reach of individuals. 

Pay-forward loans

Once registered, a CBO can apply for an interest and security-free loan for a small business project, usually to a maximum of $2,500. Projects have included chicken or goat raising, maize or bean farming, tailoring shops, internet cafes, pharmacies and day cares. Anhart regional leaders vet proposals and recommend projects for funding. 

The applicant must meet the following requirements: 

  • the project provides a health, social or economic benefit to the community
  • the project provides employment
  • the CBO has a satisfactory governance structure in place with management and administrative oversight
  • the CBO leadership participates in planning, reporting and monitoring meetings with Anhart regional leaders
  • The CBO leadership provides receipts, bookkeeping and field reports 
  • the CBO pays forward the amount of the loan within an agreed time frame

Enterprising Non-Profits

These larger-scale farms have been purchased through a partnership between Anhart and a local regional leader. There are currently four: Uganda; Tanzania; Goma and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. These businesses were established to generate profits that support local community groups and to serve as regional learning centres. Read about ENP Uganda here.

Health clinics

Dr. Joshuwa Felix speaks to a group of women at the Maman Mwilu clinic in Mugunga, DRC. More than 300 babies are delivered at the clinic each month.

Anhart provides capital funding for health clinics in areas where women do not have access to medical services. Anhart has funded six clinics in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the government staffs and operates the facility once it is built. 


A teacher with her students at Mananga Primary School near Goma, DRC, built with support from Anhart in 2019.

Anhart provides capital funding for schools in areas where children have no access to education. School-building projects, like maternity clinics, are spearheaded by regional leaders who are part of the local culture. Two elementary schools have been built near Goma, DRC. 

Anhart chooses to fund maternity clinics and schools based on the following criteria: 

  • a regional leader with a significant track record of completing projects is managing the project
  • the project has a viable budget, timeline and construction plan
  • the project has an operations plan that does not require further Anhart funds


Sustainable Villages is a program of Anhart Community Housing Society, a Canadian registered charity, and is funded through private donation. To support social entrepreneurs building small business, maternity clinics and schools, please click here