CONSERVATION THROUGH POVERTY ALLEVIATION INTERNATIONAL INC

Rating: 5 stars   23 reviews

Issues: Technology, Environment, International, Economic Development, Microfinance

Location: 221 Lincoln Rd Lincoln MA 01773 USA

Mission: CPALI develops sustainable livelihoods for rural farmers through the cultivation of native resources. At CPALI, we work to build a partnership between local people and the environment and allow our farmers to experience the value in conservation.
Results: CPALI has identified native resource farming as a new means of income-generation where few were available before. We have designed new products, including a non-spun textile made with local tools that sells for $100/ yard on international markets, as well as designs that can be marketed locally. Today, CPALI works with a continuously growing network of farmers’ groups representing 13 different communities and over 300 farmers. Together, our farmers have planted over 30,000 trees, reforested more than 75,000 square meters of buffer forest and produced over 40,000 silk cocoons. Our greatest accomplishment, although less tangible, is the foundation of trust we have built with our farmers. Our membership continues to grow by 40-50% per year.
Target demographics: rural farmers
Direct beneficiaries per year: 300 farmers build a path to a better future.
Geographic areas served: Madagascar
Programs: developing sustainable livelihoods through the cultivation of natural resources.

2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars   Featured Review

On the basis of ~10 years of field work, CPALI and its Malagasy Partner, SEPALI, have recently broadened their mission in response to the needs of the community they serve. The core mission stays the same: use entrepreneurship to create an economically self sufficient enterprise that maintains and enhances Madagascar's fragile, unique biological heritage.

The increased breadth stems from the recognition that the original product, non-woven textiles made from the cocoons of wild silk moths, offers co-products that are immediately valuable to the farmers and their families. So, CPALI/SEPALI are building expertise in the served communities to benefit from the protein available in the excess pupae and the mushrooms that grow on the agricultural waste. The goal is the sort of integration that was key to the success of family farms that preceded industrial farming.

At least as important has been the transition from a US leadership to Madagascar leadership with US consultation and marketing. Thus, CPALI is the rare nonprofit that is trying to put itself out of business by devolving responsibility onto a successor organization that is well positioned, geographically and culturally to succeed.

Both organizations operate frugally, transparently and cooperatively.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

Watching CPALI in the past 3 1/2 years, I have been so impressed with its development. The idea is simple: If local people get value from the forest, they won't cut it down, thus saving the myriad of rare species that live there. But it's not so simple to show the local people how valuable the forest is. CPALI's promotion of silk-worm farming and production of such amazing silk is growing fast. It is both alleviating poverty and conserving wildlife.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Help it grow faster and find more markets for the products.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

I was so impressed with an article I read in the Boston Globe that I sought out Cay and Bob to get more information about their work and also introduced them to a friend with years of experience in what major foundations would require before making major grants. In the last year or so, I've watched with pleasure as they've made huge strides toward taking off. Madagascar is an ecology on the edge; making protection of the forest economically rewarding for the people who live there is the secret to success. Fortunately, Cay's expertise in silk worms (a PhD in the field) helped her choose the right species to protect the forest and develop an ecologically sound industry.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

serious and impressive human beings.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

recruit more farmers and begin to reverse the destruction of Madagascar's forests.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

My name is Nirina and I joined the SEPALI farmers group here in Ambinanitelo last year. It was really exciting for me to learn to sew the cocoons that are made by the silkworms, really exciting. The cocoon training allowed me to learn sewing techniques that I can apply to many different types of handicraft." - Nirina, CPALI farmer since 2011. Quote from video Interview, 2012.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

"Before, the host tree had no use to us here. Then (SEPALI) came and showed us how to use our resources here in Madagascar and it brings me great happiness. I am in this group, not to plant trees, but to remind my group of the reason we need projects like this. It makes me happy to see Madagascar move forward and to see people from abroad taking an interest in our development. Things that had no use to us here before now have meaning. The work of SEPALI has blossomed in this community." - Trozona, Village Elder and honorary CPALI member since 2009. Video interview, 2012

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

"My name is Mr. Jaonary Jean. I live in Ambodivoangy. In 2009, I planted the trees you see here. There are about 260 trees here. In addition to using my land to rear silkworms, I also pasture my cows here and down below is my rice field. But of all my activities, rearing silkworms is my favorite because the silk worms can be very productive on these trees." -Jaonary Jean, CPALI farmer since 2009 in video interview, 2012.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  


Conservation through Poverty Alleviation Inc. (CPALI) is founded upon two basic principles: one, any conservation project in third world rural areas must address the poverty problems of the people living there, and two, the effort must be bottom up, not top down. In a remote area of Madagascar, where the traditional farming has been slash and burn, CPALI is working to get the farmers to take advantage of the country’s rich natural resources as a source of supplementary income. They have introduced raising silk worms and weaving silk textiles; in addition, they are exploring new sources of nutrition. The local farmers and women meet to organize and make decisions about where and how to concentrate their efforts. CPALI and a small staff have been providing supplies, training and support. The farming communities are adjacent to protected forest land. It has not been easy, entrepreneurship is not a part of their traditional culture, and progress has been slow, but there is a building momentum toward sustainability at this pilot site.
As a Board Member, I have been lucky to have the opportunity to work with Cay Craig and try to help make her vision a reality.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

In 2011, I took the long boat trip to up river into the remote wilderness area of Madagascar to meet the CPALI farmers. I saw first hand the creative process of this project: The indigenous trees that had been planted to rear the moths and the ironing and assembling of moth cocoons into the end product. I saw a program with committed local leaders and strong community support. The Farmers had fully invested in the CPALI goals of protecting their rainforest environment and producing some beautiful and unique fabrics. They seemed genuinely proud of their success. I don’t know if CPALI will become a self-sufficient business venture, but it is an audacious, imaginative and dynamic. It is helping to safeguard the world’s most important and threatened ecosystem and it deserves significant and continued support. At the end of the day, if CPALI flourishes, everyone wins.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

Madagascar has already suffered great environmental devastation. Destruction of forests, harmful farming practices, several unique species in danger of extinction . . . the list goes on. I donate to CPALI because it gives the delicate habitats of the island a shot in the arm, by encouraging Malagasys themselves not only to protect their environment but also to improve it. And in doing so, they benefit both financially and in terms of local pride.

Diana Abrashkin

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

After having lived in this region for 10 years, I can attest that this organization provides a novel opportunity for a win-win solution to the conservation and rural development issues that plague this area. With increased funding, there could be an increased capacity to pilot this work in several areas within the region. Community engagement and follow-up are key and they are working on their objectives with local community members so that they have a genuine stake in the work. Below, I was asked to mark how much of an impact this organization has-- I did not give a stellar rating because they haven't had ample time to finish their project. With increased funding and more work, their impact could be tremendous!

-Christopher Golden PhD, MPH
Harvard School of Public Health

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If I would change one thing in this organization (and I am biased because of my research background), I would use a stronger empirical approach to monitoring and evaluating the success of their program using quantitative study designs. In this way, their successes can be evidence-based and lead to others in this country to adopting similar approaches. Good luck!

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Quite well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Some

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

This is an organization that truly touches my heart. I went out to Madagascar and have seen for myself the green spaces where trees are now growing, met the farmers who have joined together in this venture as a community, and felt the sense of pride that all share in what they are accomplishing. What CPALI is doing is nothing short of incredible.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful?