Our story

We envision a world where all orphaned and vulnerable children are given the opportunity to reach their full potential becoming secure, healthy, connected community members who are able to care for themselves and their siblings.

Learn more about why and how we do what we do.

Our history

The Crisis of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children

Zoe Empowers started as a relief mission responding to the 2004 HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. That pandemic left hundreds of thousands of children without one or both parents. Zoe began its work in Zimbabwe where we funded feeding programs, medical services and other relief activities for orphaned children through schools, churches and government entities.

Zimbabwe Orphan Endeavor originally influenced the name Zoe Empowers. As the program expanded, we adopted the Greek definition for the word ‘zoe’, which is ‘life’.

An Unconventional Response

In 2007, Zoe Empowers missionaries were connected to a team of Rwandan social workers, led by Epiphanie Mujawimana, who introduced us to an unconventional response to the crisis of orphaned children in Rwanda. Instead of giving away resources, further propelling a cycle of dependency on adults, the Rwandan social workers were teaching orphans how to care for themselves and their siblings. And to everyone’s surprise, the results far exceeded expectations!

Implementing Empowerment

Within a year, the effectiveness of the Rwandan program so significantly outperformed Zoe’s relief efforts in other parts of Africa that Zoe abandoned all efforts at relief and completely adopted and embraced the Rwandan empowerment model in all our countries. Epiphanie was also added to the Zoe Empowers staff as Empowerment Program Founder and Rwanda Country Manager, a position she continues to hold today.

Our impact

To date, Zoe Empowers has expanded to 7 countries — Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Rwanda, Liberia, Tanzania, and India—and has helped more than 100,000 vulnerable children overcome extreme poverty to achieve sustainable self-sufficiency across eight areas of life. The three year empowerment program requires less than $290 per child  or only $8 per month, making it 5-20 times more economically efficient than traditional short-term relief efforts.

Read news and impact stories from the field.

Learn more about the people who make up our team.

Independence

We promote independence by not doing anything for the children that they can be equipped to do for themselves. We have structured the program in a way that allows participants to take ownership of the process.

Holistic

We understand the complexity of extreme poverty and the layers of issues keeping children trapped within it. We address these issues simultaneously, impacting at least eight major areas of a child’s life.

Entrepreneurship

We understand the complexity of extreme poverty and the layers of issues keeping children trapped within it. We address these issues simultaneously, impacting at least eight major areas of a child’s life.

Transparency

We are a GuideStar Platinum-rated charity committed to transparency, accountability and sustainability. Our annual financial statements are audited, and we publish full audits and all 990 Federal Tax Returns on our website.

Indigenous Staff

We employ one in-country staff person for every 1,000 children, allowing each program facilitator to guide and assist but remain distant enough to promote decision-making amongst the group.

Faith Driven

We are religiously nonrestrictive in whom we serve and noncoercive in sharing the Christian faith with participants. We share and show the gospel, but regardless of religious beliefs, every child is welcome in Zoe Empowers.

100,000+ lives impacted and counting.

Join with others to collectively fund an empowerment group or chat with our team about how we can partner to transform lives.