Heifer's unique approach

Together with our partners, we work towards a common goal: improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by creating food security and assisting them towards a sustainable living income.

Of course, we do not do this alone. It is a collaboration of NGOs, knowledge institutes, government agencies, the private sector, and many other partners worldwide.

We are not the only organization working on important issues such as income improvement, food security, gender equality, and climate change. What makes Heifer unique? Here are a few reasons to get to know Heifer and our work better:

1. Long history


We have 80 years of experience! Since 1944, Heifer has been dedicated to the fight against hunger and poverty. Learn more about our approach. What began with transporting cows by boat from America has grown into a global organization with local roots. We are incredibly proud of this history and our success so far. With our international network, we have helped nearly 43 million families on their way to a dignified life. Our long lifespan demonstrates both our commitment to our mission and our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

2. More than livestock


Our history is based on donating livestock, but animals are just a fraction of our work. We cooperate with smallholder farmers and their communities to sustainably transform hunger and poverty into food security and a dignified livelihood. To achieve this, we employ a holistic approach focusing on income improvement, food security, and addressing climate change. When these components are strengthened by empowering women, increasing opportunities for youth and community development, we create strong and resilient communities and achieve a structural reduction in hunger and poverty.

3. Bottom up


Heifer’s approach revolves around the power of teamwork. Farmers take the lead, organizing themselves into groups within their communities. They collaborate closely, sharing knowledge, passing on seeds and livestock (known as Passing on the Gift), and setting up savings and loan systems. This collective effort strengthens their position in the market. Cooperatives are instrumental, providing advantages such as improved prices, guaranteed product sales, and access to financial services. As a result, farmers experience increased incomes, higher production levels, and contribute to better food security in their region.

4. Long term approach


To permanently eradicate hunger and poverty, it takes more than just lifting families above the poverty line. They need sufficient income to provide for all family members’ basic needs and to remain out of poverty even in times of adversity. That’s why we help families work towards a sustainable living income — the money needed to afford essentials like food, clean water, housing, quality education, clothing, and other necessities within their local context.