5 minutes with a Hunger Project investor and Unleashed Women brand partner – Dr Joanna Martin
Dr Joanna Martin is a long-time investor and supporter of The Hunger Project and advocate of our work.
We spoke to Joanna about her passion for and connection with The Hunger Project and our methodology for ending hunger sustainably.
I was first introduced to The Hunger Project in Australia by Cathy Burke, who was then Country Director. Cathy attended one of my speaker trainings, and is such a passionate and extraordinary human being that when I saw how much The Hunger Project’s work set her on fire I wanted to be a part of it too! I’m an entrepreneur, so I immediately understood The Hunger Project’s business case – community-led development, women at the core, an empowered volunteer-based workforce, and true partnership at the centre of it.
The saying goes: “give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. The Hunger Project helps people to access that they themselves can figure out “how to fish”, through their own creativity and knowledge, and become leaders in doing it. This I believe is the right way to approach a problem as complex as hunger.
I was also so inspired by the calibre of the organisation’s investors, and their conviction that this is the smart way to be ending hunger. At the beginning it was this, Cathy Burke’s passion and the business case that drew me to the organisation. I worked to help Cathy to refine and replicate the Rethinking What’s Possible leadership workshop, where we trained 70 leaders. It was great to be able use some of my skills and what I’m good at to support the organisation.
And then I went on my first investor trip to Bangladesh.
By this point I’d been giving for a good couple of years but that investor trip really changed things for me. I felt the chemistry between the investors, being connected, in that same room together, I fell in love with the organisation, its people and their commitment, and the amazing partners we have in the rural villages of Bangladesh. It was humbling to see the deep commitment and passion these people have to end their own hunger. I felt like I belonged to a powerful community. One where its not “ donors” and “recipients” but “partners in the end of hunger”- all of us.
That investor trip also gave me so much feeling of passion and commitment in my own life and business. I expected to feel pity and guilt, but I felt none of that. I felt deeply humbled and inspired. I had never seen the level of commitment that I saw from some of the women that we met there.
What connects me to The Hunger Project are the women we work with, our partners, their stories, and I want to tell these women’s stories. As British women, and Australian women, what have we got to complain about when we think about what these women are doing: ending hunger in their communities, bringing elective representation, working 4am-10pm or beyond, with no spare moment in the day. They have so much less than us and do so much more.
Hunger is not just a problem in India or Bangladesh, it’s a global problem. And it’s not ok. It’s not ok that because of where I was born I am less likely to die in childbirth than a woman in Bangladesh, just because she was born somewhere else. It’s not about ability, we have a responsibility, and we can do it. We can feel into our partnership with these courageous people. We have a shared humanity that is available to us all.
I invest in The Hunger Project because I know what it takes to get this work done. I trust where my investment is going. I know this is a smart organisation. One of Many is a great match with the Unleashed Women movement. What I do in a room in London as part of One of Many is what the Vision, Commitment and Action workshops do in Bangladesh, India and in Africa. One of Many is a place where I can spread the message of The Hunger Project in my business and fund the development of women leaders in these countries, and help to grow The Hunger Project community.
As an entrepreneur I love a start-up, I enjoy rolling my sleeves up and contributing and getting things off the ground, and so I’m really excited to support The Hunger Project UK where the investor community is still growing and where there is that real start-up feeling. I want to deepen our relationship as One of Many so that women in our community can experience The Hunger Project’s work on the ground more deeply, fundraise, and at the same time experience a huge leadership transformation themselves.
I will never forget something that Cathy Burke told me: There is a revolution happening, and it will be quite fierce in places, with or without us. Our job is to step up and support as much as we can and make transition easier in these areas for people. Through The Hunger Project’s model of education, support, and training, we can ensure that change can happen in a sustainable way.
A huge Hunger Project thank you to Joanna for her continued support and partnership in the end of hunger. If you would like speak to us about becoming part of the community to end hunger and poverty, please get in touch with our Country Director, Sophie Noonan. Sophie.firstname.lastname@example.org