Core Issue: In the past few decades, the Tibetan economic landscape has undergone a dramatic degree of change, shifting from a predominantly subsistence, agricultural economy to a new mixed economy. This new marketplace is dominated by the commercial interests of Han migrants, making the traditional bartering system of local Tibetans no longer viable. Many villagers, including young girls, have migrated to bigger cities such as Lhasa to look for jobs in housekeeping, childcare, and in restaurants. But once there, they have been exploited. At the same time, many Han migrants have moved into villages and townships to set up businesses and send earnings to their families in other provinces, instead of reinvesting in the local community. This situation calls for an economic empowerment program for Tibetans that includes training in employable skills, access to capital and business know-how in order to compete with Han businesses, and an emphasis on preserving Tibetan cultural identity. The need for this type of program is especially urgent for Tibetans who were hit the hardest by the Yushu earthquake, as they need to rebuild their lives as well as the local economy.
Our Target: TVP’s main focus is in rural villages and townships where about 80% of Tibetans still live and maintain strong cultural identities. While most micro-finance programs work directly with the poorest of the poor, TVP identifies entrepreneurs with proven successes. That is, those who are ready, willing and able to create social change in their own communities by starting or improving small businesses, creating jobs, employing locals, and helping others to help themselves.
TVP’s Social Enterprise Program embodies the old adage, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life.” Our objectives are to alleviate poverty and preserve Tibetan culture by providing culturally-appropriate skills training, business education, and enterprise loans. Many of our loan recipients in rural villages are farmers and nomads who do not have formal education or marketable skills, assets which are often necessary before starting a business. To read more about our social enterprise success stories, click here.