Information and stories about economy.

Indonesia’s economy
Indonesia’s economy was a part of the “fragile five” emerging economies according to U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley in 2013. Experts considered it to be the most vulnerable to any jumps in U.S. interest rates. However, Indonesia has remained surprisingly stable a decade later as U.S. interest rates have risen rapidly and a global energy, food and climate crisis are happening. With a booming economy and a stable political arena, Indonesia’s currency is currently performing the best in Asia. In addition, the country’s stock market is hitting record highs. As other countries in the region struggle to keep afloat, Indonesia prospers due to unique circumstances.

Indonesia’s Economy in 2022

The southeast Asian country, with a population of around 276 million, is extremely resource-rich. It has undergone impressive economic growth ever since the 1990s Asian financial crisis. According to the World Bank, Indonesia is not just the largest economy in the South-East Asian region but is also the 10th largest economy globally in terms of purchasing power parity. Since 1999, Indonesia has cut poverty rates by more than half to about 10% prior to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a slight halt in the progress of Indonesia’s economy. For example, poverty rates rose from 9.2% in September 2019 to 9.7% in September 2021. Estimates indicated that the GDP growth of the country was 5.1% in 2022 as Indonesia recovers from COVID-19’s impact. One of the most significant impacts the pandemic had was on children’s learning capabilities. The pandemic resulted in the closing down of schools and could result in the stunting rate of the country increasing.

However, as of September 2022, Indonesia sees unprecedented growth and stability. The country has one of the lowest inflation rates in the world at 4.7% in August 2022, and the country’s GDP has expanded to 5.4%, much more than the amount that was estimated. With exports also increasing to 30.2%, the highest they have been on record, Indonesia’s economy stands in stark contrast to other countries in the region that have struggled with COVID-19’s impact.

Reasons for Indonesia’s Prosperity

One can credit the success of Indonesia’s economy to multiple factors:

  • Political Stability: A large part of Indonesia’s success lies with President Joko Widodo. He has remained popular with the population as well as investors for eight years. A poll that Indikator Politik conducted this month showed his approval rating to be 62.6%, a 10% drop from May 2022, but still significant to show his immense support in the country. With Widodo also hosting the G20 summit in Bali in November 2022, his popularity has kept investors interested in the country’s future.
  • Low Inflation Rates: In comparison to many neighboring countries, Indonesia’s inflation rates have remained consistently low. Combined with interest rates raised for the first time in three years to 3.75%, there have not been major shocks to the system for Indonesians. Although exports are quite high, other factors have also had a significant impact. For example, Widodo’s “omnibus law” aimed at job creation by reducing employment regulations.
  • Indonesia’s Nickel Reserves: With one of the biggest reserves of nickel in the world, Indonesia stands at an advantage, particularly in the electric vehicle industry. The country will likely provide a significant chunk of the nickel supply that the global electric vehicles industry requires going forward. This will also further help the exports of the country.

Concerns for the Future

While Indonesia’s economy has remained stable, there are some concerns for the coming years. While the economy’s stability is not causing concern, the political factors are. Widodo’s lack of a clear candidate combined with the recent drop in his popularity due to cuts in fuel subsidies has raised concerns. Moreover, the country’s main commodity exports like coal are still a huge driving force behind the economy. Additionally, future commodity prices should drop. Many also predict an increase in inflation by October.

Despite such concerns, Indonesia has shown to be invulnerable to shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to outperform other countries in the region.

– Umaima Munir
Photo: Unsplash

Fashion Waste and Poverty
Infinited Fiber is a Finnish start-up company developing new clothing from old materials. The impact of waste management for textiles is more than $1 billion annually, and garment workers globally receive, at best, mediocre pay. Infinited Fiber strives to create longer-lasting clothes to reduce textile waste while paying garment workers appropriate salaries. Longer-lasting clothes will be more cost-effective for the individual and help with the more significant issues of fashion waste management and poverty, including the ever-rising costs in the clothing market.

Poverty in the Fashion Industry

Fashion waste and poverty are significant problems in the fashion industry that Infinited Fiber is tackling. Garment workers are incredibly subject to poverty while working in the fashion industry. There is an overwhelming wage gap between garment workers and their company’s CEOs. The Industry We Want, an organization fighting for fair wages for garment workers, found significant wage gaps between the workers’ earnings and what they should be earning. Globally, garment workers earn only about 55% of the wages they need to have a living wage.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the treatment of garment workers worsened. Many garment workers went extended periods without receiving any compensation. When in-person shopping stopped globally, many factories paused operations, leaving the garment workers destitute. In those factories, garment workers deal with poverty regularly due to the economic status of their home countries. Still, the stopped income left them facing starvation. Fashion waste and poverty do not end with garment workers. Unfortunately, their poverty and economic struggles are a large portion of why Infinited Fiber seeks new techniques and practices in the fashion industry.

Devastating Fashion Waste and “Fast Fashion”

“Fast fashion” is cheap, easy-to-produce fashion that often goes to waste quickly. Fast fashion is a sector of the fashion market that employs exceptionally cheap labor. This form of fashion marketing took over the global-fashion market when large-name brands like Zara and Forever 21 began expanding business operations. Fast fashion proved to be a profitable market, causing fashion industry markets to see substantial increases in generated income. Despite the promising outlook of fast fashion, due to the quick turnaround in products, the industry will likely see decreases of up to $52 billion in profits due to waste management and textile losses. Management for textile waste costs up to $100 billion annually.

One of the methods for waste management that will also cut costs globally for waste management is transforming the clothing production process. There are calls to improve recycling methods for textiles, beginning with policymakers. Textile recycling is an expanding market for investment in the fashion industry. As of 2021, the textile recycling industry had a value of $4.5 billion in 2021, with expectations for fast economic growth. Thankfully, textile recycling also reduces the costs of dealing with textile waste management. While textile waste costs continue to mount and landfills fill up rapidly, textile recycling benefits all involved by taking the wasted textiles, cleaning them and repurposing them workers create a new product. The repurposed textiles save money in landfill and textile waste management and create new job opportunities as textile recycling grows in popularity. Infinite Fiber’s goal is to end the cycle of fashion waste and poverty through textile recycling.

Infinited Fiber’s Goal to Ending the Cycle of Fashion Poverty

The company’s founder and CEO, Petri Alava, hopes the clothing the company produces will be low-cost for the consumer, long-lasting and reduce textile waste. The company creates “circular fibers” by taking old materials, cleaning them and breaking them down to a polymeric level. The process requires fewer chemicals and leaves less waste than the typical processes of fast fashion.

Infinite Fiber is partnering with large-name brands, such as H&M and Inditex. Inditex is Zara’s parent company and is known not to pay its garment workers a fair wage. As the company is expanding and creating its partnerships, Infinite Fiber is receiving significant investment opportunities that are proving beneficial to the company, and its workers, while spreading its influence of eliminating fashion waste and poverty.

Infinite Fiber recently signed a new deal to develop a partnership with Patagonia, a U.S.-based clothing retailer with operations worldwide. One of the keys to operating with Patagonia is that Patagonia implements safety precautions that many garment factories do not. Patagonia also pays its garment workers fair wages. The connections Infinited Fiber makes with companies like Patagonia prove its commitment to a “Fair Trade” life with improved wages and social and economic improvement is on the horizon globally.

Infinite Fiber’s work creating new textiles is becoming a global operation, presenting job opportunities everywhere the company reaches. In Brazil, Infinite fiber’s work to erase fashion waste and poverty involves taking wood pulp and turning it into new textiles. The company’s goal is to slash fashion waste and poverty that result from waste. Infinite Fiber is dedicated to improving the quality of the fashion industry, which comes with living wages for all workers, minimal waste, and job opportunities worldwide.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Economic Improvement in Asia
Technological expansion facilitated a globalized community that improved industry and revolutionized society. There are, however, inconsistencies with the level of technological innovation that each country receives. Further inequalities in the field of technology exacerbate issues such as poverty and advancements in education and medicine. Many organizations make goals to advance the utilization of technology and work on economic improvement in Asia.

The Asia Foundation

One prominent organization that provides an inclusive environment for addressing issues related to gender equality, the environment and economic improvement in Asia is the Asia Foundation. The Asia Foundation began making an impact in the world in 1954 when several members from different sectors of society including leaders of corporations, university presidents and writers united to develop the unique organization.

The international nonprofit works primarily in the Asia-Pacific region through its 18 offices as well as its Washington, D.C. office and its headquarters in San Francisco, California. In 2021, the programs of the Asia Foundation provided direct support valued at $82.7 million.

The Upskilling Initiative

On September 9, 2022, the Asia Foundation announced its partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative to begin the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) Upskilling Initiative. Participants include Brunei, India, Indonesia and the Philippines among others. The IPEF is a program that began in May 2022. The program hopes to facilitate economic improvement in Asia to become more connected, resilient, environmentally friendly and fair. The Upskilling Initiative is one way in which the program begins economic improvement in Asia through the implementation of digital skills training for women and girls.

The intention of the project is to expand the middle class by allowing women and girls the opportunities that promote this goal. The initiative is beneficial primarily because it includes partnerships between nonprofit organizations such as the Asia Foundation, governments such as the United States of America and U.S.-based companies such as Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. These private businesses will arrange digital skills improvement opportunities in IPEF countries through 2032. Concrete skills include training in innovative areas like artificial intelligence, cyber-security, business development and digital literacy and content creation.

Digital Literacy and the Economy

Increasingly, the ability to utilize technological resources relates to the improvement of the economy, which is why many organizations throughout Asia emphasize digital skills improvement as one step in economic improvement in Asia. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), digital literacy falls for those populations that are rural or those in the population minority, and digital literacy is lower for least developed countries in Asia.

Many young people in Asian countries state that digital literacy assists in skills development and education. Examples of the shortcomings of the lack of digitalization include the fact that 61% of South Asians do not use the internet despite installed infrastructure. Likewise, inequalities exist. For example, while Singapore experiences a high level of digital inclusiveness, more than 150 million people throughout South-East Asia are not able to use certain types of technologies. South-East Asia receives a ranking of fifth out of seven regions around the world for digital inclusiveness due to low scores on affordability and digital literacy.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the rate at which the world uses technology to facilitate interactions among various communities. Economic growth in Asia and Southeast Asia is improving significantly with digitization with countries such as the Philippines and Malaysia leading the increase in e-commerce retail. The process reveals new opportunities, especially for the younger generation.

With continued input from partnerships such as the Asia Foundation and the U.S. Department of Commerce, countries in Asia will continue on the journey to improve the lives of the Asian population, especially women and young girls, to become a key player in the world economy.

– Kaylee Messick
Photo: Pexels

Startups in Kenya
Startups in Kenya are notable contributors to its economy, making up 30% of the national value. Home to more than 200 startups, Kenya is a regional leader in terms of a successful startup ecosystem, which is improving the lives of Kenyans by bringing modern and sustainable solutions to society’s biggest day-to-day issues. According to a 2022 report by StartupBlink, Kenya is amongst the top five startup ecosystems in the Middle East and Africa region and is third in Africa.

Startups in Kenya Increasing Capital

Kenyan startups broke their own records in the amount of funding raised yearly since 2019. In 2021, Kenyan startups had $291 million worth of investments in total. A major portion of investments goes to startups operating in financial tech, agriculture and energy industries.

With more than 30% of the population having access to the internet compared to 17% in 2017, Kenyans are able to reap more of the benefits tech startup companies bring. Government support to local tech startups began with the project of Konza Technopolis, a hub for tech companies just outside of Nairobi.

The idea for one of the first startups in Kenya emerged in response to the problem of insufficient systems set up for money transfers. For Kenyans working in the city to send money to their relatives in the countryside, the logistics of money transfers have always been complicated. Startups such as M-Pesa helped facilitate money transfers through mobile phones, eliminating the reality of a commute from the city to the countryside.


M-Pesa allows Kenyans to use their mobile phones to keep and transfer money, without the need for the internet. Mobile numbers act as account numbers and transactions only need a SIM card to go through, making it more accessible to the communities without internet access. Essentially, M-Pesa’s goal is to achieve financial inclusion in Kenyan society.

Although M-Pesa came to life through the joint partnership of two well-established communication companies, the idea of M-Pesa emerged both from the companies and the Kenyan people to respond to a long-lasting problem that has occurred for a long time.

M-Pesa is currently available and used in 10 countries with 50 million active users in Africa. Analysts estimate the company’s value to be around $3 billion.


With six global offices and more than 1,000 employees, M-KOPA came alive in 2010 with the dream of improving living conditions for Kenyans by making goods and services easier to attain. The company’s 2021 impact report shows that less than half the adults in Kenya have access to bank accounts, limiting Kenyans’ participation in the formal economy.

With limited access to financial institutions and tools, establishing a credit score becomes a challenge. M-KOPA provides a pay-as-you-go financial model for the ownership of tech products ranging from phones to solar energy home products like TVs and refrigerators. The enterprise further loans cash and an insurance plan called Hospicash.

The startup currently has 20 million customers in its network and has helped 75% of customers earn additional income by making pay-as-you-go devices available for their use to further support their enterprises. Besides finance-tech startups, retail and e-commerce startups in Kenya play a significant role as well, in improving livelihoods by facilitating the integration of sellers into the market.

Twiga Foods

The startup set off by facilitating the selling of bananas from farmers to retailers. The goal of the company is to lay out a durable and modern solution to the insufficient and inefficient supply chain in Kenya. By signing up for the software as a vendor, Kenyans can easily bring together their good with retailers with the facilitation of Twiga Foods startup. A solution as such brings food security to the people and real financial profit to the sellers struggling to safely put their goods on the market. Generating $50 million in income in 2021, Twiga is a great asset to the Kenyan economy.

Lory Systems

Launched in 2016, Lori Systems is an app providing logistics services and controlling haulage across markets. In Africa, more than 70% of a product’s cost is due to logistics, compared to 6% in a country like the U.S. Lori Systems aims to lower the cost of logistics which automatically lowers the cost of the product, making it easier to attain. Lori Systems operates in six countries in Africa and specializes in the transport of goods such as bulk grains, fertilizers, containers steel and bitumen.

Apollo Agriculture

Apollo Agriculture is an agro-tech company that assists small-scale farmers in maximizing their profits. Apollo combines all of a farmer’s requirements, including guidance, insurance, market access and finance for farm inputs in order to provide them with the services they need to grow their businesses and maximize crop productivity.

The startup uses satellite data imagery of farms and machine learning to run the process of determining a farmer’s credit score. Apollo Agriculture is rather new to Kenya’s startup ecosystem, as the company originated in 2016. About 30% of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comes from agriculture, making agriculture a notable asset for the Kenyan economy. The creation of startups such as Apollo Agriculture is a big first step in improving livelihoods from the roots. Startups in Kenya raised more money in the first half of 2022 than they did in 2021, coming close to $1 billion, leaving a promising impression for the rest of the year and the future.

– Selin Oztuncman
Photo: Unsplash

Guatemalan economy
In 2018, the Guatemalan economy produced one new job per every 15 workers joining the labor force. Furthermore, in 2018, 70% of the Guatemalan economy was informal, with workers severely challenged by low wages, low efficiency and a lack of access to economic opportunities. USAID has been in a partnership with Walmart Mexico and Walmart Central America since 2002 to increase economic opportunities in Guatemala and reduce poverty through “the empowerment of women-led small businesses.” This initiative is aimed at creating more jobs, expanding markets for goods produced in Guatemala and making business more inclusive and accessible to all people.

USAID’s Collective Focus in Guatemala

The initiative puts particular focus on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that have the potential to eradicate poverty and transform the Guatemalan economy. This is especially true in emerging cities in Guatemala, where USAID helps provide vocational training to young and indigenous workers.

USAID’s work in Guatemala does not end with Guatemala’s economy. USAID has also partnered with the local government and local communities to fight food insecurity, chronic malnutrition, environmental protection and biodiversity initiatives. USAID believes that decentralizing key resources and services in Guatemala can be productive for its economy. Moreover, USAID has also tried to drive more civilian participation in decision-making processes and encouraged the people of Guatemala to hold their government accountable.

USAID Partnership With Walmart

Walmart is one of USAID’s top 40 corporate partners and USAID has worked with Walmart in Latin America and the Caribbean since 2002. Since joining forces, the organizations have provided training and granted financial support and market opportunities to small-scale farmers, women, at-risk youth and local entrepreneurs. Moreover, these organizations also launched the “Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative” in 2011 which focused on women and farmers.

Fighting Infrastructural Battles in Guatemala

Although these commitments have helped to improve Guatemala’s economy, there are still some structural difficulties that need addressing in the coming years. For instance, Guatemala’s population is predominantly young, with more than 60% of the population being below the age of 25. More than half of the local population lives in urban areas and the country continues to urbanize rapidly, however, there is a lack of infrastructure connecting cities.

In 2022, a large number of migrants traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Consequently, this has created a temporary vacuum in the labor market, but USAID and Walmart are working to strengthen their partnerships to help create more jobs and uplift the Guatemalan economy. In spite of these challenges, Guatemala is expected to see a 3.4% growth in GDP in 2022. Although this number is not drastic by any means, it shows that economic growth and poverty reduction are possible when countries commit to creating new jobs, expanding markets and investing in their youth. With the help of initiatives by USAID, Walmart Central America and numerous others, Guatemala’s economy will continue to steadily grow.

– Samyudha Rajesh
Photo: Unsplash

Ethnic inequality in Malaysia
Malaysia made remarkable success fighting poverty over the past 50 years, dropping from 50% in 1970 to almost zero in 2014, in large part due to the decreased ethnic and racial differences in living standards. The road that the country laid to get there, nevertheless, has regrettably led to widespread racial or ethnic inequality and violence in Malaysia.

The Disparity in Living Standards Between Racial Groups and the 1969 Riot

Since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957, the Bumiputera have maintained their status as the poorest group with the lowest average income, as a result of the British colonial heritage in contrast to the wealthier minority contingent of ethnic Chinese and Indians. After independence, the government gave emphasis on economic development, but until roughly 1970, it seems that policymakers were less concerned with ethnic inequality in Malaysia.

A Sino-Malay race riot broke out in 1969 when new opposition parties led by Malaysian Chinese gained more votes than the multiethnic Alliance party that had been in power since independence. The government’s lack of concern for the country’s pervasive ethnic injustices and the Chinese-dominated party’s win, which appeared to be further detrimental to the living condition of the Malays, were the primary motives behind the riot. Malaysia then declared an emergency and suspended Parliament for two years as a result.

Malaysia’s New Economic Policy (NEP)

The government created the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1970 as a comprehensive affirmative action strategy in response to the race riot in 1969. Many viewed addressing the enormous racial disparities in the county as essential to accomplishing both its dual goals of eradicating poverty and restructuring society. The NEP officially launched in 1971 and ran for 20 years.

In addition to intending to reduce the poverty rate from 49% to 17% in 1990, the extensive affirmative action favored the Bumiputera by ensuring that they held at least 30% of corporate wealth by that year and that all initial public offerings set aside a 30% share for Bumiputera investors. The Bumiputera were promised preferential treatment when it came to housing, employment opportunities in the public sector, company share ownership and essentially in all other possible fields. By using quotas and university scholarships, the Bumiputera received preference in access to public education.

Next, the objective of greater economic growth allowed the non-Bumiputera sector’s share of the economy to decline while, in absolute terms, allowing non-Bumiputera commercial interests to expand. This was known as the “expanding pie theory” in some circles because it predicted that the Bumiputra share of the pie would grow without the size of the non-Bumiputra pieces of the pie decreasing.

This occurred to help the Bumiputera catch up economically with other Malaysians. To assure this, Malaysia enforced ethnic restrictions on share ownership in public companies. The following eight crucial strategies served as the New Economy Policy’s main drivers.

8 Crucial Strategies that are the New Economy Policy’s Main Drivers

  1. Deciding on a definition and metric for poverty.
  2. Raising productivity and enhancing revenue diversity.
  3. Focusing on the extreme poor through a unique program tailored to their requirements and providing other suitable aid to better their circumstances.
  4. Engaging NGOs and private sector entities.
  5. Enhancing the quality of life for the poor by supplying them with social and physical facilities including roads, power, piped water and schools for the rural population.
  6. Offering welfare support to the poor who were old or crippled and hence unemployed.
  7. Maintaining stable prices, which included state interference in the markets for a limited range of foods and other necessities.
  8. Lowering or eliminating the income tax rates for low-income individuals.

The Outcome of NEP

Martin Ravallion wrote in his paper about ethnic inequality and poverty in Malaysia that this country managed ethnic inequality better than many other nations. From 0.51 in 1970 to 0.40 in 2016, the Gini index of household earnings decreased. About 25% of the decline in absolute poverty was due to lower inequality (a pro-poor shift in distribution at a given mean), and the remaining 75% was due to an increase in mean income.

From 4% in 1970 to nearly 20% in 1997, the bumiputras’ share of global wealth increased. The country’s overall wealth increased as well; the per capita GNP increased from RM1,142 in 1970 to RM12,102 in 1997.

Since 1970, the mean income of the poor Bumiputeras has grown more quickly than that of the Chinese or the Indians, but the difference in growth rates has not been sufficient to close the wide absolute differences in mean incomes between racial groups. Relative mean incomes will continue to diverge if the pattern from 1970 to 2016 holds.


Policies that lessen racial disparities, such as affirmative action, can further social objectives besides eradicating poverty, such as encouraging cooperation and social solidarity. The majority status of the poorest ethnic group in Malaysia led to intense political pressure to rectify racial inequity, at least after the loud voices of dissent were heard in 1969. However, it is understandable that poverty reduction in Malaysia is a key metric for gauging the success of virtually any policies, including ethnically-based redistributive initiatives, in a nation like Malaysia, where there are significant racial disparities and an official poverty rate of close to 50% in 1970. While the official poverty rate has nearly reached zero over the same time period, the government has made significant strides in its fight against poverty, although the previous official poverty level is almost probably too low by today’s standards.

– Karisma Maran
Photo: Unsplash

Rupee’s Resilience
Turbulence in South Asian economies, political upheaval and international events such as the Russia-Ukraine war have caused inflation and a drop in the value of the Indian rupee. The Indian rupee has still performed better in these times of turmoil and global inflation issues in comparison to other Asian and European currencies. The government and the Reserve Bank of India have taken precautions and put controls on imports of goods and overseas investments. The rupee’s resilience has proven to be impressive in many ways and efforts to preserve its value are continuing to impact the cost of living in developing countries in South Asia. Without measures to protect the value of the rupee, inflation could have disastrous effects on the working class and impoverished people whose wages can no longer meet the cost of living.

Increasing inflation and poverty rates are inextricably linked. As the prices of basic commodities increase and the value of a currency decreases, vulnerable populations are unable to keep up with the expenses. The rupee’s resilience will be beneficial in keeping the poverty level relatively stable.

Recent Depreciation

The ongoing war in Ukraine and the subsequent market volatility, combined with U.S. Federal Reserve’s actions to tighten monetary policy have drastically impacted the global market in terms of access to imported goods and depreciation of foreign currencies.

During the month of July, the Indian rupee reached an all-time low. Its value has fallen below 80 rupees per $1 USD as of July 19, 2022, equating to a total value fall of 7.1% since January 19, 2022. Other South Asian countries have followed a similar, worsening trend. For example, Sri Lanka’s currency has fallen almost 80% to 362 Sri Lankan rupees per $1 USD in the same time period. This is due to multiple other factors, including political upheaval and bankruptcy, as the country is facing its “worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.” Less drastically, the value of the Pakistani rupee has fallen about 22% to 216 Pakistani rupees per $1 USD.

Considering the large drops in rupee values and increasing U.S. interest rates, the Indian rupee’s resilience has proven impressive. Falling exchange rates have not caused irreversible damage to the domestic currency as Indian investments are still attractive to foreign investors since the U.S. dollar is simultaneously getting stronger and allowing investors to buy more valuable shares. The Indian central bank has made one of its main goals to maintain a sense of stability and prevent market volatility from impacting its emerging economy. With a stable market and prices, vulnerable populations will be able to access food and basic resources with steady wages.

Effects on Cost of Living

Poverty remains a widespread problem in India, with about 176 million Indians living in extreme poverty as of 2015. The country has made progress in lifting itself from these high rates of poverty with action from the government and Reserve Bank of India, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures include “monetary and fiscal policy measures,” increased spending on health and social protection and economic decisions relating to imports and trading with foreign countries.

India relies on imports to provide consumers and its market with services and goods and the depreciating rupee and inflation will undoubtedly prove difficult for the working population of India. Worsening depreciation leads to inflation and higher costs for foreign commodities, including imports such as fuel and oil, imported foods and foreign education. This, in turn, decreases the purchasing power of people’s salaries, which is the most hard-hitting for India’s vulnerable working populations.

However, the depreciation of the rupee “can also support India’s exports as our goods and services become cheaper for foreign importers,” India’s CRISIL analytical company said.

Preserving Value

The rupee has been holding its ground against the dollar due to a fall in oil prices as well as efforts by India’s central bank. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) increased its intervention in the market over the past decade. Currently, it buys an average of $7 billion from the market every month. RBI also announced in July 2022 that it will “allow trade settlements between India and other countries in rupees.”

The Government of India, also known as the Centre, has also taken measures to safeguard the rupee’s resilience to prevent the rupee from further depreciating and impacting consumer markets to an even greater extent. Investments are one of the main focuses in maintaining the value of the rupee against global market uncertainty. The government is considering lowering limits on overseas investments by Indian residents to counteract depreciation and is making efforts to speed up USD remittances that exporters owe. The Centre could also attempt entering a bond index for more securities and inflow to sell back to investors.

Looking Ahead

Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman has shared that inflation is not expected to severely worsen poverty in India as no one will be pushed “below the lower poverty line of $1.9/day, while only 0.02% & 0.04% of the population will go below higher poverty lines of $3.3/day and $5.5/day, respectively.”

The efforts of the government to protect the purchasing power of the rupee are necessary for consumers to continue supporting themselves, especially those that poverty already impacted. In September 2022, Reuters reported that a minimum of 10 Indian states announced [support of more than] 1 trillion rupees ($12.6 billion), mainly in cash transfers and electricity subsidies, for households to combat inflation.”

– Nethya Samarakkodige
Photo: Flickr

Libya’s Digital Strategy
Libya is a country in North Africa. One of the largest countries in Africa, Libya has many deserts and is rich in culture and natural resources. There is a greater requirement for a digital lifestyle in today’s culture. The expanding digitalization in Libya is now undergoing exploitation effectively for the country’s benefit. Beginning on February 15, 2022, in New York, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Libya will concentrate on a new digital strategy to help communities and countries use digital technology as a tool to help combat and expand economic opportunity, promote diversity and reduce inequality. UNDP intends to keep up with the constantly evolving digital landscape and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with its daring new Digital Strategy 2022–2025.


According to UNDP Libya, the strategy provides a three-pronged strategy for how UNDP would help countries profit from digital technology. First, UNDP will integrate digital into its work, experiment with new methods and technologies, scale up effective solutions and use foresight to comprehend potential futures in order to amplify development outcomes. Second, it will ensure that everyone is included in digital technology by making building more “inclusive digital ecosystems.” Third, UNDP will keep evolving and setting the bar high in order to satisfy present and foreseeable technical needs. To promote cooperation around the ethical and sustainable use of technology, UNDP will also interact with business entrepreneurs, academics, researchers, students and policymakers.

The Reason the Digital Strategy is Necessary

Libya has grappled with the problem of conflict since April 2019. Unfortunately, this has negatively affected Libya’s services such as electricity. According to a Human Rights Watch article, “The United Nations-recognized and Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) has been embroiled in an armed conflict with the rival Interim Government based in eastern Libya.” As a result, violence impeded the delivery of essential services, including power and health care. Armed groups on all sides persisted in carrying out illegal killings and indiscriminate shelling that killed civilians and destroyed crucial infrastructure.

In addition, when Libya’s provisional unity government formed in March 2021, internet freedom declined significantly. The population became less able to have access to the internet. The population grew adamant about better living conditions and less corruption in 2020 and as a result, local authorities throttled cell service. Libya has endured technological issues and the plan will guide UNDP’s efforts to address the new issues that the new digital environment brought on. There is also a large digital gap that UNDP is trying to diminish. There is a digital gap of about 2.9 billion people in developing countries and this consists mainly of women and children. Digital technology has the potential to amplify biases and further inequities if it is not used responsibly.

A Promising Future

Libya’s digital strategy has a strong potential for success. It will help Libya to benefit from a more digitized economy. According to UNDP Libya, “the strategy complements the U.N.’s global efforts to expand access to affordable broadband and enhance the digital capacity of key groups including women and people with disabilities – ultimately creating new opportunities like jobs while boosting human development.” Libya’s Digital Strategy is helping lessen the burden on the less fortunate by ensuring that everyone has access to digital futures, which can improve job opportunities and education.

– Frema Mensah
Photo: Flickr

World Bicycle Relief
In 2018, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for two-thirds of the global population living in extreme poverty. Although the poverty rate across the region decreased by 1.6% from 2015 to 2018, the benefits of improved infrastructure, education and health care have not reached those living in rural areas without safe and easy transport systems to access essential services and opportunities. World Bicycle Relief works to lessen this disadvantage by providing bicycles to members of rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Founded in 2005 by F.K. Day and Leah Missbach Day, the organization empowers millions to pull themselves out of poverty.

Gender Equality

World Bicycle Relief places priority on women and girls, with the organization striving for females to account for 70% of bicycle beneficiaries. Girls in sub-Saharan Africa often find that traditional gender expectations for them to take long walks for water and firewood daily, journeys that are sometimes unsafe and increase the risk of assault and harassment, stunt their personal agency. Riding bicycles not only cuts down on time taken for domestic chores but also allows girls to travel to school safely and quickly.

Over the last 10 years, World Bicycle Relief has worked in partnership with the Ministry of Education in Zambia to provide almost 37,000 rural girls with bicycles. A controlled trial found that the bicycles reduced the likelihood of girls dropping out of school by 19%, decreased school absenteeism rates by 28% and reduced school commute times by 33%. Furthermore, experiences of sexual harassment while journeying to school decreased by 22%.

In Kenya, health care workers using World Bicycle Relief-provided bicycles served “88% more patients,” highlighting the importance of effective transport in health and well-being in rural communities.

In a USAID-funded project from 2006-2009, World Bicycle Relief partnered with RAPIDS (Reaching HIV/AIDS Affected People with Integrated Development and Support) to tackle the AIDS crisis in Zambia. The organization gave more than 18,000 bicycles to RAPIDS caregivers, allowing RAPIDS to reach more people and deliver higher quality care due to more frequent visits. Since World Bicycle Relief’s participation in RAPIDS, caregiver retention has risen to 66%, a marked increase from earlier stages.

Rural Economic Development

To ensure that users utilize the bicycles to their best potential, World Bicycle Relief gives each community the responsibility to design and adapt its own bicycle program. The organization’s “field team also helps local leaders establish a Bicycle Supervisory Committee,” which selects each individual bicycle recipient based on factors such as commute time and potential for improved service with a bicycle. Each bicycle recipient “enters into a time-bound term agreement” with the Committee and officially owns the bike upon attainment of specific requirements, such as completing their education, helping to further community development or supplying health or financial services.

In October 2021, USAID announced an allocation of funding of $3.5 million to the Bicycles for Growth Initiative, helping J.E Austin Associates and World Bicycle Relief expand mobility in rural sub-Saharan Africa by facilitating transport through bicycles.

The initiative will support research on “access to bicycles in Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia,” giving more people the chance to access education, health care services and opportunities for income generation.

– Imogen Scott
Photo: Flickr

Circular Economy Projects
Southern Africa faces huge numerous management issues, with South Africa recovering or recycling only 34.5% of its waste in 2017. However, organizations are mobilizing communities to tackle both this issue of waste and poverty through one tactic. Circular economy projects empower disadvantaged communities to clear and upcycle waste, creating income opportunities and helping the environment. Here is some information about some circular economy projects and what they are doing to eliminate poverty in southern Africa.

Wasteland Graced Land Project

Headed by Dreamcatcher Foundation’s Anthea Roussow and University of Brighton waste expert Ryan Woodward, the 2020 Wasteland Graced Land project has helped transform the South African town of Melkhoutfontein into a tourist destination by turning its plastic waste into sellable products. Thanks to a £65,000 grant from the British Council’s Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies, the project has empowered locals to create crafts and souvenirs such as jewelry, toys, mosaics and bowls – all from Melhoutfontein’s waste products. Grant money goes toward paying stipends to crafters and provides a small income for waste collectors, enabling many women and unemployed youth to better provide for their families and develop their business skills.

Flip Flop Recycling Company

Founded by Julie Church in 2005, the Nairobi-based FlipFlop Recycling Company (FFRC) upcycles flip-flops that have washed up on the shores of the Kenyan coast into 100 different products. This includes jewelry – some of which has appeared on the catwalk at Paris fashion week. The company buys flip-flops from women who collect them at the coast, employs workers to wash and repair these flip-flops and pays artisans to rehash the flip-flops into various products which it finally sells to the shop. The FFRC provides communities with business training and multiple income opportunities, employing around 40 people at its Nairobi facility in 2012.

3R Ecopoint Network

3R Ecopoint Network is based in the seaside town of Vilanculos, Mozambique, and is focused on reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the Indian Ocean. However, it has also improved the lives of local waste pickers, who play a vital role in salvaging reusable material yet are socially excluded and often seen as criminals or failures. By setting up secondary collection points which buy recyclable waste and selling this waste to recycling industries, 3R Ecopoint Network has not only reduced waste volumes in Vilanculos but also increased the revenue for waste pickers by 23, 525MZN from 2019-2022. One impacted individual is Teresa Navelane, who is now able to buy basic food items using the income she receives from collecting recyclables.

Watamu Marine Association

Negative perceptions about waste pickers are also an issue in Kenya, where the informal waste management sector continues to suffer without proper infrastructure and government support. The Watamu Marine Association (WMA) assists waste pickers outcast by society by creating a plastic waste value chain running between the local community and tourism industry in Watamu and surrounding areas. WMA has employed 100 waste pickers from disadvantaged backgrounds, who earn a weekly income through the sponsored “Cash 4 Trash” beach clean-ups. This income empowers women and youth to participate in business ventures and improve their living standards.

These four circular economy projects have had a significant impact on the communities they work in. Their continued work should offer livelihoods to many individuals and have an even further effect on the reduction of waste.

– Imogen Scott
Photo: Flickr