BOUNTIFUL—The best way to solve poverty is to help people find jobs, according to Dean Curtis.
“You might think it’s business versus philanthropy,” said Curtis, “but it can be both – it’s got to be philanthropic but can at the same time be business.”
Curtis was in Bountiful last week to support a volunteer enterprise he co-founded after his retirement and his service as a mission president for the LDS Church in Mexico.
“Interweave Solutions” is a non-profit organization that teaches self-reliance in communities around the world.
Simply giving money to the poor “rarely solves long-term poverty,” Curtis writes in a book he published. “People in poverty can identify their own problems and help each other find their own solutions.”
Even the title of the book sends the message he is so passionate about: “Charity with a bottom line … Business with a Heart.”
Course materials have been published in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and, most recently, Arabic, with an aim of teaching people how to help themselves, according to Curtis.
Last Thursday, he was at Lamplight Art Gallery to share information about his work and to help celebrate the success of two refugees who are starting their own businesses.
During an open house at the gallery, Entisar Shaker stood near her colorful creations and answered questions about their design and her methodology. At the other end of the gallery, Ammal watched as people enjoyed the baklava and mouajanat she had prepared as part of her catering business.
Shaker was an artist in Iraq before coming here, and her art was purchased for homes, for hospitals and more. She is hoping it will be embraced in America as well.
Ammal is from Kuwait, though her children were born in Iraq and Syria. She still gets help with English translation from her children, but that hasn’t stopped her from establishing Ammal’s Tasty Pastry as a way to help her family.
Language is not a problem for those who are learning about business in Curtis’ program, because Interweave Solutions has made it a priority to teach people in their native language.
Also at the gallery open house, representatives from the Refugee Immigrant Center of the Asian Association of Utah and the Salt Lake branch of the International Rescue Committee spoke of their work to help refugees at the open house.
“This work is so pivotal,” said Andrea Sherman, who represented the Asia Association. “It is so important to help people be successful, to integrate and to become more self-sufficient.”
She encouraged people to find ways to get involved by going to justserve.org.
More information on the work of Curtis’ organization is available at interweavesolutions.org.