Poverty Mindset

The Poverty Mentality and the Poverty Cycle

For someone trapped in a cycle of poverty, a poverty mentality is likely an additional obstacle they must overcome. This mentality acts as blinders, preventing the individual from seeing possibilities beyond their present circumstance. One’s attitude in life is fixed, often not daring to hope for anything better.

When someone is entrenched in poverty, it drains their cognitive resources, and often leaves them unable to consider the future.1 They focus on urgent needs at the expense of long-term benefits. This suppression on one’s “cognitive development, executive functioning and attention” becomes “fuel for poverty’s unending cycle.”2

Poverty often inhibits a person’s ability to make good financial decisions.3 They can’t plan ahead or invest in the future when not even their basic needs are met. Instead, they trudge along, focusing on today and their very survival. This short-sighted view is then passed on to their children, and the cycle continues.

But what are parents to do when they are among the 736 million people struggling to live on $1.90 a day?4 Some sacrifice their children’s education for an additional income from child labor, focused on the family’s urgent need for food and shelter. One must eat to survive. Many may wish to provide a better life for their children than that which they grew up in, but they see no other option.

GFA World has been offering people in need alternate options since 1979. They come alongside the “least of these” with practical assistance to empower people to not only break the cycle of poverty but alter their mentality, giving them hope for the future.

Income-generating gifts such as cows, goats, chickens, sewing machines and rickshaws, empower men and women to provide for their families.

With immediate needs met, they can plan for the future. They can build herds and businesses that sustain them and their children. By proving life doesn’t have to be as it’s always been, views alter as hope dawns.

GFA World also invests in minds, both adults and children.

Literacy programs and vocational training offer education many individuals simply couldn’t afford in their impoverished childhoods. These life skills build confidence and shape mindsets, offering possibilities as simple as reading labels and conducting business in the local market or as ambitious as building a business.

For children, GFA World offers its child sponsorship program, which helps boys and girls establish a solid foundation of learning, in the realm of academics as well as civics. These children learn to be good citizens and grow up to be contributing—not just surviving—members of society. Education offers them opportunities largely out of reach for their parents. With a shift away from poverty, these children dare to dream.

Cycles are broken.
Values are formed.
Future generations will be impacted.

1 Heshmat, Shahram, Ph.D. “The Scarcity Mindset: How does being poor change the way we feel and think?” Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201504/the-scarcity-mindset. April 2, 2015.
2 Sleek, Scott. “How Poverty Affects the Brain and Behavior.” Association for Psychological Science. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/how-poverty-affects-the-brain-and-behavior. August 31, 2015.
3 Gilbert, Matthew B. “Breaking Down the Scarcity Mindset.” The Harvard Crimson. https://www.thecrimson.com/column/a-time-for-new-ideas/article/2020/5/1/gilbert-breaking-down-scarcity-mindset/. May 1, 2020.
4 “Poverty.” The World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/overview. Accessed August 5, 2021.