Stephen Paul Fitch, founder and president of Eden Reforestation Projects, talked to Central Christian College students about how to take their passions and make them reality.
Fitch’s “Not necessarily non-profit” lecture was a part of Central’s annual BG Products Business Lecture Series Wednesday.
Fitch encouraged students to ask themselves what they were passionate about, and to find one thing that they are good at. To illustrate his point, Fitch related a story about a fox hunting a hedgehog — no matter what trick the fox would try, the hedgehog would keep rolling into a ball to prevent being eaten.
Fitch’s company, Eden Reforestation Projects, is a non-profit organization that focuses on planting new trees in deforested areas of Ethiopia, Madagascar and Haiti.
Fitch said a non-profit company is not necessarily non-profit.
“The love of money may be the root of all evil, but the extreme opposite of that comes at a close second,” he said.
In order for a nonprofit to accomplish its goals, funds must be raised.
The project asks for a 10 cent donation per tree for trees to be planted in Madagascar and Ethiopia. With that model, $2 million would have to be raised for the project. That cost doesn’t cover the paychecks for local workers on these projects.
Fitch said the best way Eden Reforestation Projects raises money is by “telling our story.” He illustrated how his company revitalizes the local economy of African villages by replanting trees.
“If the environment fails, the crops will fail as well,” he said.
And as the animals, water and soil change due to deforestation, crops yields are decreased, poverty goes up and the desperately poor resort to forced labor and sex slavery.
Eden Reforestation Projects will hire local workers within the villages to aid in the reforestation process. The restoration of forests also restores clean water and farmable soil to these villages, and decreases extreme poverty. With the improvement to the local economy, many lives are saved in the process.
To donate to Eden Reforestation Projects, or get more information about how you can help, visit www.edenprojects.org.