Karen Bruton’s passions collided in 2007 when she found her life’s work to use the power of business to make an enduring impact that transforms lives. Before founding Just Hope International, Karen had participated in numerous mission trips to feed the hungry, build churches, and drill wells. Her experiences convinced her that God was calling her to help people living in poverty and that handouts are a dead end to lasting change. While traveling to Peru in 2007, Karen experienced her first “Ah-ha!” moment in Anyana, a small village destroyed by two decades of attacks and oppression by Shining Path terrorists. During that trip, Karen brought guinea pigs, chickens, and seeds to people working to rebuild their lives. They used the livestock and agricultural supplies to grow businesses to provide sustainable and steady income. A hand up, says Karen, is the way to make a lasting difference.
That same year, Karen left the comfort of her corporate job, began trading professionally, and pursued her desire to make a lasting impact. She founded Just Hope International with the mission to empower people living in some of the world’s most difficult living conditions. Her focus is to help remarkable people provide for themselves by earning a sustaining household income. In addition to Karen’s service in Peru, Just Hope has implemented programs in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Togo, Panama, Honduras, Thailand, India, Malawi, and Nicaragua. Programs include agriculture training, savings groups, and business mentoring.
Today Just Hope serves in Colombia, South America, achieving its mission of economic empowerment through orphan transition work known as Thriving Skills. Just Hope created this program to equip teenaged residents under institutional care with practical knowledge and skills for life once they age out, often by eighteen.
Karen graduated from the University of North Carolina and holds an MBA from Wake Forest University. She spent more than 25 years as a vice president and corporate controller of two corporations. In any week, you might find Karen watching the markets, working in the field in Sierra Leone, or listening to young women in an orphanage in Panama.
Learn about Karen and Just Hope International at JustHopeInternational.org.
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