Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Using Entrepreneurship to Combat Global Poverty

By Marita Greenidge

"Multiply the population of the US by three. That’s how many people around the world live on about a dollar a day.

Do it again and now you have the number closer to $2. About forty percent of the world lives on $2 or less a day.

What’s that like? What happens to you when you have two dollars a day to live on. It’s almost impossible to imagine. I mean, $2 is the rent on your apartment for about 45 minutes. $2 buys you one bite of lunch at a local restaurant...

And yet, two billion people survive on that sort of income. "

Those are the opening lines from Seth Godin's post last week Friday. You should definitely read the entire post here. Godin speaks about why entrepreneurship is so important to social and economic development. The focus eventually turns to the Acumen Fund, a non-profit Seth will be working with. I particularly like the Acumen Fund because they seem to share our ideals here at KVI. Here's an explanation of what they do:

"Acumen Fund is a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. We seek to prove that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined with large doses of business acumen, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of the poor. Our investments focus on delivering affordable, critical goods and services – like health, water, housing and energy – through innovative, market-oriented approaches." - Acumen Fund Wesbite

So the idea is that charity alone is not the answer because it creates dependency. However using charity and investing in projects that have the potential to offer the world's disadvantaged ways to support themselves negates the need for continual charitable donations. This is very important because it means that if charitable dollars run out, persons aren't instataneously transported back to poverty. Donations become more like investments than hand-outs.

This is why we at KVI believe in Fair Trade and helping our artisans find marketable solutions to their economic problems. We are facilitators giving artisans connections to distribution channels they wouldn't normally have so that they can chart their own entrepreneurial course.

Of course this brings into question what happens when we aren't there to facilitate but that's a discussion for another post when we'll talk about why succession planning is so important.


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