Information and news about business

Modern Business Opportunities in Africa
Over the next 10 years, Africa’s total populace could surpass 1.5 billion. Moreover, only 20% of the continent’s predicted population growth will transpire in rural areas. Therefore, an industrial transformation is occurring. International markets now have multiple modern business opportunities in Africa.

Online Finance Services

The demand for financial consulting is immense. Estimates have determined that 80% of Africa’s population does not have access to banking or financial services. Therefore, the evolution of the FinTech industry is underway. FinTech utilizes modern technology to improve the affordability and accessibility of financial services. Approximately 88% of sub-Saharan African countries now implement FinTech policies. Companies such as M-Pesa and Branch have successfully established their business strategies in these regions.

Branch is a digital financial service provider that capitalizes on the worldwide growth of smartphone usage to deliver financial consultation to those in need. The company operates in Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria. Branch currently serves 3 million customers. Recently, Branch acquired over $150 million in funding to further pursue its initiative. The company hopes that providing small loans will stimulate economic development in low-income areas.

Virtual Healthcare

Providing equal access to affordable healthcare is an objective modern technology can accomplish. In sub-Saharan Africa, only one physician is available for every 5,000 people. In the U.S., there is one physician per 384 citizens. Generating digital platforms to further distribute healthcare in Africa is an under-crowded market. Companies such as Redbank and Lafiya Telehealth App now operate in this sector.

Lafiya Telehealth App incorporates smartphone application technology to provide healthcare to citizens of Nigeria. Lafiya focuses specifically on individuals living in isolated areas, who tend to be poorer. Lafiya’s programs aim to replace in-person medical examinations with voice calls, video calls and instant messaging. With wide and accessible reach, Lafiya is serving an enormous market.

United States Government Initiatives Promoting Commerce with Africa

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a U.S. government initiative that provides African countries with access to thousands of American commodities. In order for countries to participate, they must launch programs to decrease poverty, protect individual rights, institute a criminal justice system and more. Currently, 38 African countries are eligible to engage in trade and investment with the U.S. AGOA has directly created over 100,000 American jobs, connected U.S. businesses with buyers and suppliers in Africa and generated over $1 billion in exports. Trade between the U.S. and African nations has grown by 300% since the Act came into effect. The U.S. government has extended this program to 2025.

The success of AGOA has prompted the creation of Prosper Africa. Prosper Africa is a U.S. policy with a design to further increase opportunities for trade between the United States and Africa. Prosper Africa increases Africa’s availability to U.S. digital and in-person services, supports commerce by advancing profit-making contracts and enhancing cooperation with African institutions to create healthy business environments. The completion of these objectives will produce profits for employees, businesses and stakeholders among both regions.

The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development recognized Africa as one of the most profitable regions in the world. The continent’s growing urban population, increase in consumer spending and largely untapped markets provide ample scenarios for international corporations. Modern business opportunities in Africa will continue to grow with the implementation of U.S. government initiatives to improve local economies, promote stable growth and persuade future business investments. These modern business opportunities in Africa will expand as wealthy nations share resources and generate economic growth in regions across the continent.

John Brinkman
Photo: pxfuel

Brands Addressing Global Poverty
Cosmetics is a booming industry, with an estimated value of $532 billion, it continues to grow. However, for a long time, many beauty brands have been associated with unconscionable practices as a means to drive profits and sales — such as the use of child labor and unethical sourcing of materials. However, brands addressing global poverty may have an impact not only on worldwide poverty but also on themselves.

Business Structure & Social Impact

In a joint study by The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development and Oxfam, researchers concluded that “business structure can influence the social impact of a company…,” meaning that how a business is operated, keeping the supply chain in mind, can have either positive or negative effects on the social environment that the business engages with.

Inclusive businesses aim to incorporate impoverished people into the supply chain — as suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and customers which encourages economic growth. For a beauty brand addressing global poverty, working with an inclusive business model in mind and working towards more ethical and sustainable practices in the industry — are crucial steps in uplifting and collaborating with emerging markets. Here are five beauty brands addressing global poverty, today.

5 Beauty Brands Addressing Global Poverty

  1. Human Nature: A beauty brand based in the Philippines with compassion at its core. Human Nature creates products with raw materials from community-based suppliers. Working with fair trade principles in mind, the brand ensures that it pays appropriate (sometimes above-market) prices for suppliers’ goods. Human Nature also pays its employees fair living wages to combat poverty in the region.
  2. The Body Shop: The Body Shop believes that business can be a force for good with the motto “Enrich Not Exploit.” The brand engages in ethical trade practices, where retailers and suppliers are accountable for the conditions of their workers. Part of The Body Shop’s global commitment is to help economically, vulnerable people find work. The brand also pledges to invest 250,000 hours of skill-building in the communities where it operates.
  3. L’Occitane: L’Occitane is an eco-friendly, beauty brand addressing global poverty through its philanthropic efforts. The brand maintains a key partnership with women in Burkina Faso who produce shea butter for certain products. L’Occitane provides literacy programs, business training and microcredit opportunities to support women’s leadership and economic empowerment. Since 2006, more than 26,000 women have benefited from the brand’s support.
  4. Karité: Founded by three sisters from Ghana — Karité specializes in ethically sourced shea butter, palm oil and coconut oil from Ghana. Manufacturing is located in New Jersey. This international partnership works with women-run, co-ops supporting economic activity in both Ghana and the U.S. The brand has developed various projects (e.g., the Shea for Soles Initiative) that benefit Ghanan communities. Karité observed the needs of the women who work on the co-ops, noticing that many only wore flip-flops. Subsequently, the brand launched a campaign to provide shoes to the workers.
  5. Conscious Coconut: Conscious Coconut is another international, beauty brand addressing poverty through its fair trade and sustainable sourcing practices. Working globally — growers and workers are paid fair wages, ensuring that employees in poor communities can meet their basic needs. Conscious Coconut advocates against the use of child labor and human rights abuse. Moreover, the brand cultivates close relationships with its suppliers to make certain that they have dignified working conditions. Packaging for the company occurs in Florida at the MacDonald Training Center — which gives work opportunities to adults with disabilities.

An Admirable Business Model

While not all brands follow the same principles that guide these five previously mentioned — each additional brand that joins the cause represents progress. As the world becomes more connected, the global economy plays an increasingly significant role in fighting global poverty. Brands like the five mentioned here are taking an admirable, active role in addressing their business objectives and global poverty, simultaneously.

Melanie McCrackin
Photo: Pixabay

Incentives to Invest in Developing CountriesIn an era of large corporate business and capitalism, many low-income nations are struggling to increase economic growth. Although industries like fast fashion utilize cheap labor in developing countries, these companies neither invest in local economies nor help improve living standards for their employees. Businesses have the potential to play a major role in strengthening low-income economies and bringing citizens out of poverty. Thus, it is critical to create and publicize incentives to motivate businesses to invest in developing countries.

Incentives for Investing

  1. Fiscal Incentives. Fiscal incentives are one of the most common incentives used to attract businesses to developing countries. Fiscal incentives include tax exemptions, tax holidays and loans. Other examples include reduced restrictions on shareholders and stocks, as well as greater access to domestic and international partners. These rewards can be provided by local or city governments, and are designed to encourage businesses to expand into developing countries. The presence of fiscal incentives in these nations can draw in new investors, skilled workers and economic growth.
  2. Privileged Treatment. Some businesses, especially major corporations, may ask for “preferential treatment in the domestic market.”  Privileges could include increased access to resources, less regulation and priority for business decisions.
  3. Resources and Infrastructure. If a business opens in a developing country, it may possess the authority to demand lower infrastructure costs or resources. These businesses can also request lower interest rates on imports and exports in order to expand their international networks, as well as request resources to increase long-term investment domestically and internationally. Large corporations often have the power to request assistance in increasing local ties with other firms and organizations. Overall, due to developing countries’ strong desire for economic investment, companies choosing to establish this presence gain access to a plethora of resources.

Potential Risks

While incentives for businesses to invest in developing countries are certainly important, disadvantages to this practice are also worth noting. Incentives can distort the market and even create dominant monopolies. Monopolistic competition makes it difficult for small businesses to gain traction and thrive long-term, which can lead to unemployment for many local workers and business owners. Furthermore, with fiscal incentives come greater risks for inflation, corruption and fraud. Therefore, although incentives may be critical in creating economic growth and development, it is important to address their drawbacks.

Deciding Whether to Provide Incentives

In sum, encouraging large businesses to operate in low-income countries boosts profits and yields exposure to new markets. Perhaps more importantly, though, developing countries themselves benefit immensely. Corporate presence from just one company opens the door for other businesses to expand into these countries, attracting new jobs, income, resources and opportunities. This economic growth can help reduce extreme poverty by involving more citizens in the job market.

However, it remains essential for developing countries to acknowledge the potential drawbacks of corporate investment and make economic decisions accordingly. Regardless, providing incentives for business investment has the potential to give hope to low-income countries aiming to improve life for their citizens.

– Sophia McWilliams
Photo: Flickr

Rafode
For many years, microfinance was viewed as one of the most successful means of raising individuals and communities out of poverty. In Myanmar, small and medium enterprises made up 99% of the country’s businesses. Most of those were, to no surprise, micro-businesses. In particular, the tool of microfinance was viewed as especially helpful to women. Yet, it turns out that studies found that microloans were not actually as impactful as many wanted them to be. The problem is that, because microloans are often given to those considered high-risk borrowers, high-interest rates are charged, making it difficult for those receiving the loans in the long run. The way to make microloans sustainable is by diverting the focus away from scalability and immediate returns. Rafode, a startup in Kenya, has done just that.

Headquartered in Kisumu, Kenya, Rafode is a “non-deposit taking Microfinance Institution.” With its main focus on women in rural communities, Rafode has successfully distributed over 40,000 loans, all with a value of around 700 million Kenya Shillings or $6.5 million. Relying on technology to deliver its products and services, Rafode has succeeded in reaching rural communities and uplifting both men and women through microloans.

Products and Services

Rafode has eight different products, all in the form of loans for different purposes.

  1. Inuka Business Loan: As a group loan, this is intended to encourage clients to create, upgrade or expand a business. This loan is the first step to receiving an individual loan and can range from 10,000 to 480,000 Kenya shillings.
  2. Masomo Loan: Dedicated to education, this loan is aimed to support a client’s family in receiving an education.
  3. Green Energy Loan: Working with other companies that provide green products, including Burn, Marathoner and Sunking, this group loan provides support for rural clients seeking access to affordable green energy products.
  4. Agribusiness Loan: As the name would suggest, this loan exists to specifically help small scale farmers in the agribusiness industry.
  5. Pamoja Loan: As another group loan, this works to support a group hoping to support its local economy.
  6. Emergency Loan: As an individual loan, the Emergency Loan serves to cater to the client’s emergencies, typically related to their business.
  7. Individual Business Loan: A more selective loan to receive, this loan exists exclusively for clients who already have businesses, and who already have businesses that are stable and have a reliable source of profits.
  8. Asset Loan: This final loan is self-securing. Providing real flexibility to clients, they gain the ability to finance movable assets and free up cash they might not have had before. Like the Individual Business Loan, this exists for clients who already are seeing their business profit, and hope to expand or grow it even more.

The Value of Microfinance

While conventional microloans have not been so effective, researchers have found that by providing microloans with little to no collateral, there are usually better results. Specifically, when given to women, these results are even more effective. This is because, especially in developing countries, microloans are among the only things that increase women’s decision-making power. In other words, microloans undeniably empower women.

So, Rafode’s efforts to give 85% of their microloans to women, focusing on rural communities and offering a plethora of different types of loans, all with very little collateral, have enabled this startup to do extremely impactful work that provides mutual benefits to the clients and back to the company. The most successful microfinance products allow flexible payment periods, individual liability contracts and one of Rafode’s main tools, the use of technology.

By believing in microfinance and adjusting to what will work by trusting in their clients, Rafode has raised individuals and families out of poverty, as well as revitalized economies in the process.

– Olivia Fish
Photo: Flickr

US Enterprise Funds
Many post-communist states have met with challenges, as without a working market economy, private capital is scarce. Enter U.S. enterprise funds, providing loans to businesses to improve their standing, create jobs and return money to U.S. coffers—a win-win situation.

US Enterprise Funds

Enterprise funds operate as a venture capital firm, with an emphasis on lending to small and medium businesses (SMEs) in the countries where they exist. They have a limited lifetime—usually 10 to 15 years. Each fund also has a board of directors, with appointees from both U.S. businesses and local enterprises. For the most part, the funds work with great autonomy under USAID’s umbrella. There were political concerns regarding early enterprise funds, as some believed USAID lacked sufficient business know-how. However, it turned out that their involvement would be beneficial.

The funds also have a dual mandate. They are to “promote private sector development” while “generat[ing] financial returns for the U.S. government,” according to The Hill.

Post-Soviet Funds

In post-communist Eastern Europe, the George H. Bush Administration first deployed enterprise funds to help former Soviet states rebuild. The first two such occurred in Hungary and Poland, with a total investment of $300 million. By investing in private companies, the Funds aimed to help develop these states’ free market. In Poland, for example, the Fund helped start a micro-lending company, Fundusz Mikro, that is still operational today and has loaned money to over 57,000 small and micro-business owners.

Congress established 10 enterprise funds across Europe in the 1990s, which generated almost $7 billion in private capital and “as much as $1.7 billion of net proceeds from successful investments,” according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. They also helped create more than 300,000 jobs in the Eastern and Central European regions. For the United States, these funds contributed to stabilizing the region, fostering private investment and returned $200 million to the U.S. Treasury.

Current Funds

Today, only two enterprise funds remain. These emerged under the Obama Administration in Tunisia and Egypt, in 2012. Aiming to support post-Arab Spring markets, these funds granted annual cash infusions, with total funding capped at $100 million and $300 million, respectively, for the life of the programs.

In Tunisia, the Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund (TAEF) has seen success, investing in information and technology, construction and other sectors. One company, Net-Info, a school offering courses in 3D animation and gaming in the North African region, received funding from TAEF to open a campus in Tunisia’s capital, Tunis. Africa’s population is both young and growing, and youth make up 60% of the continent’s unemployed, so institutions like Net-Info that give marketable skills can reduce joblessness and instability. In sum, TAEF has supported around 5,000 jobs in Tunisia.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund (EAEF) has experienced similar success. EAEF has assisted 140,000 SMEs, like Fawry and Sarwa Capital, companies focusing on improving financial accessibility in a country where two-thirds of citizens are unbanked. Both companies have seen substantial growth, with Fawry adding more than 6 million customers since EAEF’s initial investment. Another financial services company, Flat6Labs Cairo, has given seed money to several small businesses, 31% of which women own. In 2017, reports determined that the fund directly generated 430 jobs in the country.

Enterprise funds, historically, have accomplished their mandate well. Congress has considered expanding certain enterprise funds. For example, an Enterprise Fund in Jordan emerged but never received funding. A logical step for Congress would be to continue this fund and consider establishing similar enterprises in other states where businesses have insufficient access to capital.

Jonathan Helton
Photo: Flickr

tech startups in Latin America
According to the Vice President for Finance and World Bank Controller Jorge Familiar, “We should adopt and promote technology and innovation to boost economic growth, poverty reduction and increase opportunities for all, rather than planning barriers.” In recent years, Latin America has followed Familiar’s advice as it has seen a dramatic rise in access to technology and a sense of entrepreneurship. Below are seven facts about tech startups in Latin America.

7 Facts About Tech Startups in Latin America

  1. Latin America is more connected than it has ever been, a necessity for the success of tech startups. More than 70 percent of South Americans had access to the internet as of January 2020, up from 55 percent in 2017. There are about 500 million smartphone subscriptions across the region. Brazil and Mexico rank fourth and fifth in the number of Facebook users with 120 million and 84 million users respectively. Additionally, Latin America has been one of the top growing markets for Spotify and Netflix.
  2. E-commerce sales in the region reached $53.2 billion in 2018, up 18 percent from 2017. This is attracting attention from international e-commerce businesses such as Amazon, which opened its first distribution center in Brazil in 2019.
  3. Venture capital investments in Latin America surpassed $1 billion at the end of 2017. There were 25 new global investors that year. These investors include Softbank, Telstra Ventures and Rethink Education.
  4. Three tech startups surpassed $1 billion valuations at the beginning of 2018. These startups include Nubank, an online banking service, and PagSeguro, an e-commerce service for commercial operations.
  5. Strong institutional support in the region has facilitated the expansion of startups. Startup Chile and Mexico’s Fund of Funds are government-initiated investment firms that act as accelerators to provide capital to small and medium enterprises to get them off the ground. Similar organizations exist in Argentina, Peru and Columbia. Brazil’s development bank has played a critical role in the provision of capital to small businesses as well.
  6. The share of female participation in creating startups is higher in Latin America than in Europe. The failure rate of startups is higher than ever in many Latin American countries. However, this is due to a growing sense of entrepreneurship amongst men and women alike.
  7. The Tech Growth Coalition began in 2018 to facilitate investment in the region’s startups. One of the issues Latin American startups face is the small domestic markets the countries have. However, by working together as a region, countries can overcome this problem. The Tech Growth Coalition, which consists of large investors such as Google and Facebook, emerged to help with this cross-border collaboration. The parent organization, the Latin American Venture Capital Association, which originated in 2002 and consists of more than 190 firms of all types and sizes, has built up $65 billion worth of assets “directed at capitalizing and growing Latin American businesses.”

The growth in the number and size of tech startups in Latin America is key for several reasons. One key reason is the opening of foreign markets and the attraction of foreign investment and businesses. This not only leads to increased “investible resources and capital formation” but “a means of transferring production technology, skills, innovative capacity and organizational and managerial practices between locations, as well as of accessing international marketing networks.”

Scott Boyce
Photo: Flickr

Because International is Aiding Children
There is an invention that is changing the lives of millions living in poverty around the world. A leather sandal, called The Shoe That Grows, has been making a big difference for children living without shoes that properly fit them. Kenton Lee, a pastor and founder of the nonprofit organization Because International, designed the shoe. He came up with the idea during a six-month stay in Kenya. He originated this new brand of footwear that has benefited those who have outgrown their previous pairs of shoes. Because International is aiding children in developing countries that live without proper-sized shoes and are vulnerable to serious injuries and parasites.

More than 300 children from poor families are in need of a pair of properly fitting and long-lasting shoes. Using materials around his house, Lee used the plastic part of a baseball cap to have a makeshift expanding shoe. He also used tacks and soft foam to create pegs, allowing the shoe to expand.

“The design process was interesting because I am not a designer, and I knew nothing about shoes,” Lee told Bored Panda. “I was just a normal guy with an idea.”

Helminth Infections

More than 225,000 pairs of adjustable sandals are distributed to more than 100 countries around the world. The previous lack of this resource has prevented kids from attending school daily and staying healthy. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide have suffered from soil-transmitted helminth infections, in which parasitic worms transmitted by eggs pass through the feces of those infected by the disease. The adult worms live in the intestines where they produce eggs every day. Helminth infections also weaken an individual’s nutritional status by feeding on host tissues including blood which leads to a loss of protein and iron. In addition to helminth infections, hookworms, which are also parasitic, cause intestinal blood loss that results in anemia.

As for the organization’s long-term goals, it plans on continuing distribution to poor countries. This provides an economic improvement, in which job creation appears, low shipping for merchants, decreased carbon footprinting and overall innovation of footwear that will increase economic growth while fighting poverty.

The Bednet Buddy

Because International is also aiding children through its invention to protect kids vulnerable to mosquitoes. The Bednet Buddy is also available on its official website; a pop-up net lined with long-lasting insecticides, which are synthetic substances for killing insects. The Bednet Buddy has the guarentee to protect children aged 5 and under from mosquito bites while sleeping. Lee, who also invented this protective kit, came up with the idea during the same visit to Kenya. He visited an orphanage where children were sleeping without bedding or a roof over their heads during the night, leaving them more vulnerable for mosquito bites, increasing the chance of catching malaria.

The organization has made about 1,000 nets and sent 700 to the west-central region of Africa for testing, so the organization has already manufactured the product and some have already used it. Because International is still working toward making improvements to the product that it has yet to reveal.

GroFive

Because International also has a sister company for commercial use called GroFive. Because International primarily owns GroFive and is a small-time player in the American footwear industry. Where parents typically run out to buy their children more pairs of shoes, costing them hundreds of dollars, the company decided to use the idea of The Shoe That Grows for American consumers. The key is to sell the product domestically where parents can purchase this type of shoe for a low price instead of buying multiple pairs for higher prices. GroFive sells its expanded sandals, or “expandals,” for both kids and adults at $39.95 a pair.

Pursuit Incubator

In addition, Because International has also developed a program for struggling entrepreneurs to take their new ideas to the next level. Known as the Pursuit Incubator, Because International offers training to get new businesses off the ground and to mobilize them to their target audience. It even gives guidance and funding that help support these new entrepreneurs as they embark on growing their businesses.

Overall, Because International is aiding children through its consistency in making products and services that can help serve those in need. In addition to The Shoe That Grows, it is capable of making more products. It can market these for use in underprivileged and developed nations alike. Finally, it provides services to help others with their own products.

– Tom Cintula
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Companies Reducing Poverty
Since the 1970s scare, the state of the earth, specifically in regards to climate change, has been a hot topic of conversation in the scientific community. The degradation of farmlands, dangerous weather patterns and the gradual deconstruction of global ecosystems are becoming more apparent. With a growing cause for concern, scientists, corporations and individuals have come to understand that a change must occur.

On the other hand, alleviating global poverty is a pressing issue also. The world could dramatically reduce international poverty with longterm investment and adequate programming. Therefore, it can be challenging to determine where to allocate resources. Despite this conundrum, three companies have proven that resource allocation might not have to be a choice if they become sustainable companies reducing poverty. The Plastic Bank, Chr. Hansen and M-KOPA have dramatically improved the lives of impoverished and/or food insecure individuals while maintaining a corporate focus towards alleviating global sustainability issues.

3 Sustainable Companies Reducing Poverty

  1. Plastic Bank: The Plastic Bank is a Canadian company that started in 2013 with the goal of reducing plastic waste in the ocean. Impoverished and overpopulated areas with little to no waste management systems are primary sources of ocean plastic build-up. The organization works with local residents in Haiti, the Philippines, Indonesia and soon Brazil to mitigate plastic waste by mobilizing locals. It accomplishes this by imploring the citizens to collect and deposit plastic buildup in exchange for credits that they can use to buy necessities such as food, medicine and cleaning products. Not only does this reduce individual waste production, but it improves the lives of those who partake in the exchange and those around them. Plastic Bank has committed itself to the implementation of activities to educate these communities about ecological health and the science of sustainability in addition to trading labor for goods.
  2. Chr. Hansen: Chr. Hansen began in 1873 as a single pharmaceutical factory and has grown into a global force in food production and sustainability. In 2019, Corporate Knights acknowledged the Denmark-based company as the world’s most sustainable company. The organization continues to pursue these sustainability goals through the improvement of natural food longevity agents and reducing dairy waste. Further, the company floods investment into alleviating food insecurity with a primary focus on the second U.N. Sustainable Development goal. To accomplish such a goal, the company works with local agencies and/or other civil society organizations to support local, small-scale dairies in developing countries.  Chr. Hansen also devotes attention to the dairy market in Northern Africa where camels are more common than cows. Through this work, the company is investing in research about processing for preservation to decrease camel milk waste and giving local residents affordable access to these products.
  3. M-KOPA Solar: M-Kopa Solar is a Kenya-based company that has implemented solar power to over 750,000 homes and businesses in the region. Not only does the company provide clean energy, but these highly efficient systems also provide low-cost energy to the user. M-KOPA provides rural and off-grid individuals with the comfort of electricity that would otherwise be fiscally or physically inaccessible. Not only do the consumers benefit from the energy but there is also potential to profit from the sale of that power to others. Providing this energy permits consumers to focus less on how to afford power and gives them autonomy. M-Kopa is one of the few African-based sustainable companies reducing poverty within the residing country. This organization is working to expand its reach further through Kenya and into other regions.

These companies have proven that resource allocation is not a choice. These three sustainable companies reducing poverty have done so through corporate missions and societal impact initiatives.

Kayla Brown
Photo: Unsplash

Global poverty is an ever prevalent issue in the world today. Poverty affects at least one billion children worldwide and is responsible for the death of 22,000 children daily. Many companies are emerging with missions to help stop global poverty by selling things jewelry or food products and donating some of the proceeds to charitable organizations. Some companies are working directly with the people they are helping. A way to contribute to the fight to stop global poverty is to support and buy from these companies fighting poverty.

Jewelry Companies Fighting Poverty

There is an exorbitant number of accessory companies around the world. In 2018, people spent 18 billion euros on luxury jewelry globally. Many people buy jewelry from large, name-brand corporations. One way to help global poverty is by buying jewelry from smaller companies who give back to the cause. Here are companies fighting poverty with jewelry sales.

  1. Starfish Project: Starfish Project is a jewelry company whose mission is to help exploited women in Asia through a variety of Holistic Care programs. The project’s Community Outreach Services are helping train women to be entrepreneurs. So far, more than 140 women have found employment through Starfish Project.
  2. Noonday Collection: Noonday Collection is a small business created by Jessica Honegger that specializes in selling jewelry. Women learn to make and then sell jewelry at Noonday jewelry markets called Trunk Shows. So far, Noonday Collection has helped more than 1,700 women around the world launched their own businesses.
  3. Nightlight Design: Nightlight Design is an international organization whose mission is to end commercial sexual exploitation in Thailand. The jewelry proceeds go towards supporting the organization and its efforts to employ these women.

Food Companies Fighting Poverty

Hunger is a pressing issue that comes with global poverty. Those in extreme poverty often do not have the resources to get access to food. In developing countries, 12.9 percent of the population suffers from undernourishment. There are many companies that sell food in order to fight world hunger. Here are some companies fighting poverty that are giving back by selling food.

  1. KIND: KIND is a company that mostly sells granola bars. The KIND Movement started in 2004 as the company’s way of trying to make the world a little better and a little kinder. KIND and The Kind Foundation have spent more than $34.5 million to fight world hunger. Volunteers through the companies have donated 50,490 hours to charitable causes.
  2. Annie’s: Annie’s is a company famous for its boxed macaroni and cheese as well as other snacks. Its creator and founder, Annie Withey, has strong values geared towards helping the planet and the people on it. She set out to create a socially conscious business through Annie’s. In the last six years, Annie’s has “donated more than $2.5 million” to a variety of organizations working to make a better world.
  3. Justin’s: Justin’s is a nut butter company created by Justin Gold. It gives back to the planet through poverty relief efforts. The company works with the Whole Planet Foundation and Conscious Alliance to provide hunger relief around the world. Justin’s works with many other organizations committed to helping global poverty.

Clothing Companies Fighting Poverty

For those living in poverty around the world, clothing is a huge problem. Many do not have the resources to buy clothing that accommodates often harsh weather conditions, leading to sickness and injury. Fortunately, there are many clothing companies who give back by employing people in developing countries. Through the proceeds, these people are able to make a living. Here are some poverty helping companies that give back by selling clothing.

  1. ASOS: ASOS is a large clothing company that is home to hundreds of well-known brands. It recently launched ASOS ‘Made in Kenya,’ a line encouraging people to live up to their ethical values by buying clothes made by garment workers in Kenya. ASOS has also released 11 collaborations with SOKO, Kenya. Proceeds from the collection boosted the workforce and helped parents afford school for their children.
  2. People Tree: People Tree is a clothing company based in the U.K. whose supply chain is 100 percent ethical and fair trade. The clothing company partnered with many humanitarian organizations such as Bombolulu Workshop, which works to empower physically disabled people in Kenya. It works with a variety of groups in several countries.
  3. Elegantees: Elegantees is a clothing company whose mission is to end sex trafficking largely caused by poverty in Nepal. The company’s goal is to employ women from Nepal to help manufacture their clothing. It offers women stable jobs to provide for themselves and their families and keep them safe from sex trafficking.

Although world poverty numbers can seem daunting at times, there are many small choices one can make in their everyday lives to help create an impact. One way to help end global poverty is to buy products such as clothes, food and jewelry from companies fighting poverty.

Natalie Chen and Jenna Chrol
Photo: Pixabay

New Business Opportunities in Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia is a 600-island nation in the Pacific Ocean where 40 percent of the population lived in poverty as of 2014 and 32 out of 1,000 children died before the age of 5 as of 2017. Micronesia is heavily reliant on U.S. aid since the nation’s independence in 1986, but many expect it to end by 2023 as the country struggles with unemployment, over-reliance on fishing and a stagnant local business sector with uncertainty looming. Micronesia’s private sector will need a significant boost when aid from the U.S. comes to an end. Opening new business opportunities in Micronesia, specifically at the local level, is a priority the Pacific island nation needs to capitalize on.

Connecting Micronesia

The rise of the internet has been an important business driver for the private sectors for many nations. Micronesia has been tackling a project to expand the country’s own servers both locally and globally. The Pacific Regional Connectivity Project by the World Bank is a long-term project that will not only connect Micronesia with its neighbors Palau, Nauru and Kiribati via a fiber network, but also allows Micronesia to open and regulate the market to allow the private to build and improve domestic businesses that the current satellite connections would not be able to bring. The building of the lines to improve networking and connections is a pivotal investment to increase the domestic business sector to boost the local economy. Exploiting the internet is an important objective for opening new business opportunities in Micronesia and evolve the local marketplace.

Tourism Sector in Micronesia

Improving the tourism sector is also a priority Micronesia should exploit to bolster its economy. Neighboring countries such as Palau, Nauru and the Northern Marina Islands, a U.S. territory, have strong connections to various Asian countries to allow easier access to their respective areas of interest, which Micronesia also currently relies on if falling short. States within Micronesia have taken steps to rectify the tourism concern, such as when Yap made a controversial deal with the Chinese development company Exhibition & Travel Group in 2011 to develop tourist destinations 1,000 acres across the state. Meanwhile, the Papua New Guinea-based airline Air Niugini established connections to Chuuk and Pohnpei, Micronesia in 2016 and increased flight capacity in 2017.

Fishing Sector in Micronesia

While Micronesia has been improving its tourism sector, it has also made deals with countries outside of the U.S. to bolster its fishing sector which has been in major need of development. Focusing on the regional neighbors has been a major step in that development. As an island nation, fishing is one of Micronesia’s main economic sources, however, there have been concerns about its long-term reliability, and thus, the country’s management of resources has become necessary. Chuuk has size-based policies to control and maintain fish populations during appropriate seasons, balancing the marketplace and keeping fish populations at sustainable levels. Micronesia also began a transparency program in its tuna fishing sector in 2018, a measure to monitor and sustain the tuna population for both local and international marketplaces. Fishing is an important asset for Micronesia; maintaining the population levels of various species including tuna is a priority the country be paying attention to for years to come.

Opening new business opportunities in Micronesia requires the country to branch out from the guiding hand of the U.S. and beseech nearby neighbors to bolster the local economy. Micronesia also expects to sustain its local fish populations to enhance the markets both locally and internationally. While the steps have been small, the Federated States of Micronesia has made the necessary moves in the event that the United States end its aid in 2023.

Henry Elliott
Photo: Flickr