Our Story

How did The Townships Project begin?

In this photo is Martha Deacon wearing her choir uniform from the 8th Assembly of the World Council of Churches Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, where herself and Jocelyn Pritchard sang in the choir for 10 days in November/December 1998.

That’s where The Townships Project was born. Jocelyn was our first Chair and is still on our board. She was 70 at the time they were in Zimbabwe, now nearly 93! Still a valued and contributing member of our board and Chair Emerita.

“What will you do to fight poverty in my country?”

In 1998, Nelson Mandela challenged the World Council of Churches to fight poverty in South Africa.

Canadian Martha Deacon responded by founding The Townships Project to support micro-businesses in township areas through micro-loans, micro-franchises, and community development.

In 2017 The Townships Project Partnered with Rotary Clubs in District 9400 to start the “Build Better Businesses” Symposium. This is an annual event to support entrepreneurs in either establishing their own businesses or to help them grow their businesses.”

The ‘Building Better Businesses’ Symposium provides a forum for all small business owners to find financing, marketing, mentoring, accounting, and other skills while also giving networking opportunities. There are also various prizes each year, to reward businesses showing the strongest progress.