© 2022 UnPoverty and Mark K. Lutz

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Mark Lutz Headshot

Mark Lutz Speaking

Mark Lutz On TV


Mark In Cartagena

Mark in a home in Cartagena, made of sticks and mud by this Opportunity International loan client.

Mark Lutz moved to South Africa when he was one year old.

Living for 20 years under apartheid had shaped Mark to become an advocate for justice. Visits to some 50 countries sharpened his vision for a world free from extreme poverty.

After earning a master’s degree in cross cultural communications from Wheaton College, he worked for over 30 years raising money for Opportunity International where he is the senior vice president of global philanthropy. They release $2 billion in loans annually to some of the poorest people in the world.

“My richest lessons come from the poorest people. They deepen my understanding of what really matters in life. I listen to their stories and they compel me to speak out—for their sake and ours. As you read their tales, you will gain new optimism and hope. You will recognize that they are poor only in material terms. Given an opportunity to help themselves they unloose the chains of poverty for their families and communities. From around the world, they invite you to join them in an accelerating revolution to eradicate extreme poverty during our lifetime.” –Mark Lutz


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“Can we envision a world where extreme poverty is replaced with dignity and simple prosperity? This book shows us how people in developing countries are ‘undoing poverty’ by building thriving businesses through microfinance.” Richard Stearns, President, World Vision U.S. and author of The Hole in Our Gospel

“The writer of Proverbs says that one who helps the poor lends to the Lord. Mark Lutz helps show the way.” John Ortberg, Author and Senior Pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church

“I grew up in South Africa like Mark, and have seen the people he describes. He spent his life serving the poor and now shares their inspiring stories. It is an absorbing read. The stories may change your life.” Peter Thorrington, Chair, Board of Directors, Opportunity International U.S.

“As an entrepreneur, I have nothing but awe, admiration and respect for the entrepreneurs I was privileged to meet among the poor in Ghana. In this insightful book, Mark has captured the heart and faith of their stories, and how we can collectively transform lives and make ‘unpoverty’ a reality.” Dr.Sandra Davis, CEO, MDA Leadership Consulting

“Can we really eradicate severe poverty? Mark Lutz makes a strong case that we can. These inspiring stories give the world’s poor their rightful dignity and showcase their determination to earn their way out of poverty.” Bob Buford, Founder, Leadership Network, and Author of Halftime and Finishing Well

“Our abundance can render us tone-deaf to the needs of the extremely poor, yet we have more in common with them than we may realize. We value hard work. We care about each other. We act in good faith. We are proud of ourselves when we make a difference. Mark Lutz shows us how.” Claudia Kennedy, Retired Three-star General, U.S. Army

“Two thousand Bible verses call on us to respond to the needs of the poor. Eliminating poverty can be accomplished through job creation. Mark Lutz tells amazing stories of how that happens through Opportunity International. These microenterprises clearly demonstrate that economic improvement comes from the bottom up.” Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus, Eastern University

“Mark Lutz has captured what I have seen to be true over and over again around the world. We have much to learn from the resilience, determination and generosity of the families in these stories and countless more who are able to do so much if only given a chance.” Jonathan T.M. Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International

“Do you love your family and hope your children will grow up to be healthy and productive? Do you love feeling a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day? Then, believe it or not, you have something in common with the poorest of the poor. Mark Lutz tells the stories of real people striving to succeed despite the bleakest of circumstances. I can assure you that these stories will change your thinking about whether it’s possible to wipe out poverty in the world—-it is.” Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Managerand Lead Like Jesus

“Joining persuasive voices arguing that extreme poverty can — and therefore must — be eliminated in our lifetime, Mark Lutz, from his on-the-ground microfinance experience, offers gripping stories helping us grasp why this worthy aspiration can become reality.” Robert W. Lane, Retired Chairman, John Deere

“Every person should understand poverty–what it is and isn’t. Extreme poverty can be eradicated, one life at a time. Microfinance can give dignity, self worth, and a path for the poor to better their lives forever”. Warren Staley, Retired Chairman and CEO, Cargill

“How powerful — to be mentored by the marginalized about what it means to be generous and to live with dignity.  Through personal vignettes I discovered unconventional wisdom that if heeded will see ‘unpoverty’ as our global footprint.” Paula A. Curtis, President and CEO, Opportunity International Canada

“If those cool antipoverty ads starring Brad Pitt and Bono got you wanting to make poverty history, read this book. Mark Lutz brings his readers face-to-face with hard-working, persistent, innovative poor people who, when you give them a chance, can make themselves a success and share their generosity with others. Lutz believes we can make extreme poverty obsolete. These stories render his radical vision plausible.” David Neff, Editor In Chief & Vice President,Christianity TodayMedia Group

“You’ll find yourself inspired by Mark’s passion and encouraged to act by his commitment and hope. I’m grateful for a voice like his, which calls each of us to engage our minds and hearts to draw near to the billions in our world who live in extreme poverty.” Gary Haugen, President and CEO, International Justice Mission

“I know the poverty that Mark Lutz describes from personal experience. This is a must read book for all those who genuinely seek to raise themselves from the poverty that I experienced, or that they may be experiencing right now.  Mark hits the nail on the head – extreme poverty can be eradicated with the right kind of empowering support.” Rev.Dr.Kwabena Darko, Darko Farms and Company, Ltd., Ghana

“Mark and I share a passion for empowering the poor. We also share the love of a good story. You will be enlightened by the stories, challenged by the need and encouraged with the results. Mark Lutz has spent his life making the world better, now it is your turn. Unpoverty really is happening — today.” Kevin Compton, Co-owner, National Hockey League San Jose Sharks, Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment

“Instead of stirring feelings of pity in his readers, Mark Lutz reveals the resilience, perseverance, wisdom, and willingness of the working poor. Through his personal interactions with those living in incomprehensible poverty, as well as his own genuine “ah ha” moments, the author builds a deeper level of understanding. By joining hands with the poor, we can go beyond  good intentions to genuine change.” Sammy T. Mah, Former President and CEO, World Relief

“Mark’s stories and observations provide a very different perspective on the poor and turn conventional wisdom about who is better off upside down. Finding grateful hearts and dignity among those facing such gut-wrenching hardships pushes us to rethink what is important. Mark’s stories give hope and confidence that we can, individually and collectively, make a significant difference in the lives of the world’s poor.” Dick Gochnauer, President and CEO, United Stationers

“Mark Lutz has challenged us to team up with others to eradicate poverty. These stories of the poor have convinced us that, given a chance, the poor are ready to use their God-given talents to become self- sufficient. We want to be one of the givers that makes this a reality.”

Doris and Don Meyer, Baillie Lumber Co., Hamburg, New York “Having visited some 130 nations, I have been richly blessed by the poor people I’ve met. They really teach us a lot about ourselves and God. Read Mark Lutz’s  stories of incredible people.”

Ambassador Tony P. Hall, Former U.S. Congressman and U.S. Ambassador “By sharing compelling stories from some of the world’s impoverished people and through his personal, honest reflection, Mark Lutz radically transforms our perspective about the gifts that make us truly wealthy.”

Michael J. Mantel PhD, President and CEO, Living Water International “Mark catches the plight of people in poverty. Through their stories, he shows that the path to “unpoverty” is possible when helping hands enable the poor to help themselves.”

Roy L. Rogers, private investor, a former Managing Partner, Hambrecht and Quist “Why we have enough food, clothing and shelter is an accident of our birth. What are we to do about the injustice of those in real poverty vs. our relative wealth? In this book we are challenged, yet encouraged. What could happen if more of us started lending a hand up to those in need?” David Weekley, Chairman, David Weekley Homes

“What does one do in response to the issues of poverty and justice for the poor? Mark Lutz has spent much of his life as part of the leadership team of Opportunity International, an organization that responds in a meaningful way to this question. This book reminds all of us how we can participate.” C. William Pollard, Chairman Emeritus, The ServiceMaster Company

“Our family has inspected microfinance and other poverty alleviation programs on several continents. We’ve seen firsthand the transformation these interventions offer. Instead of arriving with the answers, Mark Lutz has watched and listened as he has traveled the world. Thank you Mark, for sharing what you have learned.” Katherine and Alan Barnhart, Barnhart Crane and Rigging

“An inspiration. Mark Lutz has enlightened us through the stories of poor people who have proved how they can transform lives—their own as well as others—with a little help from the more fortunate of us. I have been privileged to meet a few of them. I recommend UnPoverty to all who dream of helping create a better and more equitable world.” Fred McDougal, Former CEO of McDougal Littell

“Stories remain the most effective way to transfer truth from over-loaded heads to under-developed hearts. By the end of UnPoverty I wondered how often I’ve traveled around the world and missed life’s lessons from the very people I tried to help!  Give this book to everyone you know who remains cynical of the need to engage ‘the least, the lost and the left behind!’” John Crosby, Senior Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church, Edina, Minnesota

“In this poignant book, the quiet lives of voiceless people struggling to survive on the margins speak out powerfully.  Mark Lutz invites us to walk with him into the world of grinding poverty seldom seen by outsiders. UnPoverty is a treasure of inspiration and encouragement for those who desire to make a difference in their world.” Bob Lupton, Founder and President, FCS Urban Ministries

“Our world is so small. Mark’s book helps us see what we all have in common and understand how we affect each other’s lives. I have known Mark for more than 20 years, and through these years I have grown to love and better understand the working poor. Mark has put his heart into this book and you will grow through Mark’s experiences as I have.” John Weberg, Weberg Furniture Stores

“Mark Lutz is the real deal — a true friend to the poor and a master story-teller. His deeply personal reflections and insightful windows into the lives of hardworking poor people around the world are inspiring. Rich stories, indeed!” Susy Cheston, Co-Chair of the Microenterprise Coalition

“Mark Lutz uses the power of personal stories to convincingly show how extreme poverty in much of the world can be eradicated. Everyone can learn a lot for everyday life; a book full of inspiration, practical advice and call to action.” Gary Schwammlein, Executive Vice President, Willow Creek Association International

“As an expert in international development, Mark Lutz leads us on a journey beyond our nation’s borders and into communities known primarily for their physical poverty. UnPoverty is not idealistic optimism; rather, this is a glimpse at how the ingenuity of the world’s poor could lead to a world without extreme poverty.” Peter Greer, President, HOPE International and co-author of The Poor Will Be Glad

“This book is redemptive and an inspiration. Mark’s deep analysis will be a great encouragement to third world readers and a transformational instruction to the western world. He encourages us to respect, trust and facilitate this positive change. Poverty anywhere in this world can be eradicated. I hope many will be joining the growing chorus that ‘it can be done!’” The Rt. Rev. John Rucyahana, Bishop of Shyira Diocese, Rwanda

Congratulations to Opportunity International for over 50 years of providing financial solutions and training, empowering people living in poverty to transform their lives, their children’s futures and their communities.


Opportunity Intl.

550 West Van Buren St.

Chicago, IL 60607

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