OUR FOUNDER

Darius Coulibaly, Ph.D.

Empowering The Poor is the brainchild of Darius Coulibaly, a Vanderbilt University graduate and native of Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. Darius is from the villages of Tongon, Benguebougou, Gaba, and Olibroubouo. Darius was born and raised in a poor and rural environment in northern and southern Côte d’Ivoire, where he witnessed poverty firsthand. Darius grew up without electricity, clean and running water, health centers, and indoor plumbing. Like millions of boys and girls in impoverished and rural Sub Saharan Africa, Darius walked long distances to fetch water, wood, farm, and go to school. He witnessed firsthand children, women, and men dying from preventable and curable diseases like yellow fever, malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, etc. By the grace of God, Darius survived several episodes of malaria, chicken pox, cholera, infectious diseases, and two near-death experiences due to illness. By the grace of God and through the guidance of his “Vieux Pere”, Agnimel Aristide, Darius landed miraculously in America at age 17, leaving behind his parents, siblings, friends, and villages. However, the village never left his heart as Darius came to America with his childhood dream in his pocket. That is, to combat poverty in his country, in Sub Saharan Africa, and wherever it exists.

Darius finds Africa’s conundrum sickening and mind-numbing: a continent so rich in natural, mineral, cultural, and human resources, yet so destitute. In addition to these natural endowments, Sub Saharan African received more than $3 trillion of foreign aid in the past 4 or 5 decades from large international organizations and European governments. Yet, every 21 seconds a child dies from water-related diseases in Sub Saharan Africa (UNICEF, 2019); every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria in Africa (WHO, 2015). Africa is home to 71% of all people living with HIV in the world yet it represents only 11% of the world’s population (WHO, 2014); One (1) out of 2 primary schools in Africa do not have toilets and drinking water (UNESCO, 2017); Africa has the highest rates of educational exclusion in the world with 34 million school-aged children (UNESCO, 2017).

Darius believes that the root causes of the endemic and systemic poverty in Sub Saharan Africa lie in two main factors. First, the lack of high-quality and equitable education opportunities. Most Sub Saharan African countries continue to use the educational system designed and built by the colonial masters which educates Africans to serve the economic, political, and cultural interests of the colonial masters such as France, England, etc. Second, most African governments are staffed with kleptocrats, inept, incompetent individuals who are more interested in serving their selfish economic and political interests and those of the neocolonial masters who maintained them in power.

Darius is blessed with three awesome families, The Jacksons, the Tinnermons, and Morrisseys who took him in their homes, loved and nurtured him since he was a high school student at St John’s Prospect Hall, Frederick, MD, and Greensboro Day School, Greensboro, N.C. Darius is proud and blessed to call them family and maintained this powerful bond and demonstration of God’s unconditional love and grace. Darius is a husband, married to his beautiful queen Sophonie, a father to 3 beautiful girls and one handsome boy, and an uncle to several low-income black and brown middle and high school male students in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, who he mentors. Darius is a special education teacher and a college professor of Economics.

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