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Unless you work in the world of NGOs, you've probably never heard of Bangladesh's BRAC. But don't let that mislead you: the organization has close to 100,000 full-time staff, 8,000 working outside of of their home country. And in the last year alone, BRAC worked to educate more than a million children, and lent money to nearly eight million striving people.

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As a youngster growing up in California's Salinas Valley, Fabiola Moreno Ruelas dealt with more than her share of hardship. She saw her father deported, and her family routinely struggled with housing and basic needs, at one point facing eviction.

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When Ali Takata and her husband moved to Austin from the San Francisco Bay Area three and a half years ago, she was immediately struck by the lack of diversity. "I was surprised by how white Austin felt," she says. But Takata soon realized that Austin wasn't particularly white--it was just very segregated.

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Here at Billions Rising we have always emphasized self-reliance, and solutions that empower those in poverty to better themselves and their communities. One organization that is doing great work in this area is Street Business School, a non-profit that works with other orgs to provide next-level entrepreneurial training for women.

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Though difficult for most of us to even imagine, it's a reality for tens of millions of impoverished kids around the world: living every day without shoes on your feet. In India, it's shockingly common to see shoeless infants and toddlers, an obvious health risk that can lead to infections like hookworm and even elephantiasis.

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Despite the fact that standards of life in the U.S. are generally far higher than those in Africa, social scientists puzzle over the fact that suicide rates in Africa are much lower than in the Americas–and nearly half those in Europe. In a culture that is objectively cleaner, safer and more orderly, what breeds this desperation?

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By any estimation, Twotone Grant had a difficult childhood. By the age of 12, Grant was living on the streets, and she spent nearly 8 years drifting in and out of homelessness. Her mother had severe issues with addiction and mental illness, and at times Grant felt like the streets of Los Angeles were the safest place for her to be.

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Growing up as one of six children in a single-parent household in Myanmar, Ma Khin learned a thing or two about poverty. So when she decided to open a restaurant that trains homeless street kids to be chefs and waiters, she knew she would be throwing herself into a tricky role. “The children on the streets have psychological issues,” the former tour guide says. “Sometimes we have children with criminal records. Sometimes we have thieves....on the streets, they steal in order to fill their stomachs.”

Still, Ma Khin's premise was sound; the restaurant, named LinkAge, has persevered. And Ma Khin is just one of twenty entrepreneurs being celebrated for working to uplift Asian communities, by Channel NewsAsia’s Ch...

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Here at Billions Rising, we've always been focused on self-reliance, so there are some organizations that will always hold a special place in our hearts. One of these is Bead For Life in Kampala, Uganda.

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