A set of twelve essential principles and values called Cornerstones at the heart and center of Heifer's interventions that are followed to make development economically viable, socially benefited, environmentally sound and culturally appropriate. The Cornerstones stimulate personal insights and group wisdom and they keep people's hearts, minds and body action balanced, focused and productive.

Passing on the Gift
passing on the gift

Passing on the Gift is the heart of our sustainable community development philosophy. Every family who receives an animal must pass on one or more of the animal’s offspring, along with other inputs, training and skills, to other families in need. This unique approach creates a ripple effect that transforms lives and communities. Recipients build new levels of self-confidence and fulfillment as they become donors themselves.

We provide guidelines for planning projects, screening recipients, monitoring progress and conducting self-evaluations. Groups define their own needs, set goals and plan appropriate strategies to achieve them. They work to mutually track and document their progress so they can report to Heifer periodically and continually plan to improve.
Sharing and Caring
sharing and caring

We believe global problems can be solved if all people commit to sharing what they have and caring about others. Sharing and Caring is an integral part of our vision for a just world.
Sustainability and Self-reliance
sustainability and self reliance
Because we fund projects for a limited time, project groups and communities must devise strategies for their continuity. In our experience, self-reliance is most easily achieved when a group has varied self-directed activities and generates support from several sources. This leads to building trust among community members, causing them to join together and drive the development of their community.
Improved Animal and Resource Management
improved animal and resource management
Feed, water, shelter, reproductive efficiency and health are the essential ingredients in successful livestock management. The animal must be an appropriate breed for the area and should be a vital part of the farm activities without placing an extra burden on the family or resources. Likewise, improved management is a practice that is applied to maximize all of the participants’ resources, whether physical, human, environmental or other.
Nutrition and Income
nutrition and income

Livestock contribute directly to human nutrition by providing high-quality protein. Indirectly, they provide draft power for cultivation and transportation, as well as manure for soil fertility. By engaging farmers to take a stronger role in the market system, livestock can provide income for education, health care and housing, and provide long-term economic stability as living savings accounts.

Gender and Family Focus
gender and family focus
Gender refers to the socially defined roles of women and men in each culture. We encourage women and men to share in decision-making, animal ownership, labor and benefits. Also, we emphasize the empowerment of women and girls to ensure women develop skills to take on leadership roles at group and community levels.
Genuine Need and Justice
genuine need and justice
We are a partner to people in need who can improve their quality of life with modest support. Priority is given to marginalized groups. We work with entire communities, but ensure that the poorest ones are selected to receive assistance. Families are eligible regardless of creed or ethnic heritage. We aim for systemic changes that are often necessary for permanent results.
Improving the Environment
improving the environment
Improving the environment through sound conservation practices is key to sustaining development gains. Our programs and projects adopt agroecological farming practices, promote natural resource management and adapt to climate change, contributing to resilient livelihoods. The introduction of our projects should have a positive impact on one or more of the following: soil erosion, soil fertility, sanitation, forestation, biodiversity, pollution, wildlife and watershed conditions.
Full Participation
full participation
We are committed to involving all members in decision-making, working with grassroots groups to develop strong leadership and organization. Group members each have ownership of the project and control over all key decisions.
Training, Education and Communication
training education and communication
Groups determine their own training needs, and local people serve as trainers. Training includes formal sessions as well as informal farm visits and demonstrations. As their capacity increases, participants communicate with various stakeholders, such as local governments, markets, civil societies and others, about their activities and achievements, positioning themselves as agents of change in their communities.
Spirituality is common to all people, regardless of their religion or beliefs. It is expressed in their values, connectedness to the Earth and shared vision of the future. It helps people transform personally and grow from a state of self-centeredness to altruism. Spirituality often creates a strong bond among group members, giving them faith, hope and a sense of responsibility to work together for a better future.

Heifer's 12 Cornerstones

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Heifer Cornerstones Song


Contact us

Heifer International Bangladesh

Gold House

House # 38, Flat # 5B (5th Floor), Road # 11 (New)

Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1209, Bangladesh

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