Living on One Dollar a Day: Documentary Initiative Creates Global Awareness

By Kelsey Browne, Student Correspondent The Office of Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Living on One Large view

If you looked up “innovator” in the dictionary, the Living on One Team would be included in the entry. This team of 20-somethings, Chris Temple, Hannah Gregg, Zach Ingrasci, and Sean Kusanagi, embody the entrepreneurial spirit. They are filmmakers by happenstance but social
entrepreneurs by definitive choice.

They made their national film tour stop at Wake Forest University on September 21, with a screening of their film including a student question and answer session amid their one-of-a kind bus. What was simply meant as a journey for friends to view as a video blog eventually received over 600,000 views on YouTube. With the camera containing more than mere footage; this team had a real story.

When questioned as to their mission, Zach replied “our goal is to engage our peers with the issue of global poverty in a unique way so we decided to live on one dollar a day for two months over the summer.” The team had always heard the statistic that 1.1 billion people live under a dollar a day but could never really understand its magnitude. Zach and filmmaker Sean remained friends since high school while Zach met Chris and Hannah at Claremont McKenna College in California. Both Zach and Chris majored in Economics and became fascinated with microfinance during college.

Chris specifically became interested even more when he worked for the Whole Planet Foundation, the philanthropy sector of Whole Foods. Whole Planet was their safety net when they were in Guatemala and they’re currently sponsoring Living on One today. They influence over 53 countries and only support the microfinance groups that put the needs of the poor first, instead of focusing on profit. Guatemala is a place where 50% of the country lives below the poverty line and microfinance loans enable boundless improvement.

Microfinance works its way into the film when a main character, Rosa, benefits from a small loan entrusted by a local bank. Small loans and savings accounts had huge impacts on the lives that the team filmed. For example, in Rosa’s situation she was able to take a small microfinance loan for $125 and start a weaving business and with that business she was able to pay for schooling to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse’s assistant.

Living on One, their non-profit organization launched this past spring and encourages the creation of media that will engage young people with the issue of global poverty. Living
on One is sponsored by Creative Visions Foundation and all donations to the organization are tax deductible. Other ways the team seeks support are by enlisting students to join the Student Microfinance Movement, a group the team created on their website that includes free simulcast classes taught by Professor Sean Foote of Stanford University, free of charge to the public. The Living on One team will conclude their tour where it all began, in Guatemala to screen the film once more. To find out more ways you can help the organization, visit their website at


The Living on One Film Tour was co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Microfinance Club and the Entrepreneurship Society.