Worker Remittances and Poverty in the Arab World
The Arab world has one of the highest proportions of migrant to local workers in the world, with over 32 million migrant workers in the Arab states in 2015 alone. In addition, the region has one of the largest diasporas in the world. This means that many skilled workers are emigrating to wealthier countries and sending money home via remittances. But what do remittances in the Arab World mean for the region and its inhabitants?

Brain Drain vs. Gain

In Lebanon and Jordan, unskilled labor is provided by growing numbers of refugees and foreign workers, totaling over five million in 2015. However, as more foreign workers enter the country, growing numbers of high-skilled Lebanese and Jordanian nationals are emigrating. This often occurs when opportunities are limited, when unemployment is high and economic growth slows. The phenomenon is dubbed ‘brain drain’ as opposed to ‘brain gain’, whereby an increasing stock of human capital boosts economies. A drain occurs while poor countries lose their most high-skilled workers and wealthier countries in turn gain these educated professionals.

Remittances in the Arab World

These expatriates commonly work to improve their own living situations while also helping to support their friends and families. This is where remittances come into play. As defined by the Migration Data Portal, remittances are financial or in-kind transfers made by migrants to friends and relatives in their communities of origin. Remittances often exceed official development aid.  They are also frequently more effective in alleviating poverty. In 2014 alone, the Arab states remitted more than $109 billion, largely from the United States followed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

There is no denying that remittances can be a strong driving force for the socioeconomic stability of many Arab countries. But not all the influences are positive. Some experts argue that remittances can actually hurt the development of recipient countries. Their arguments cite potential negative effects of labor mobility and over-reliance on remittances. They emphasize that this can create dependency which undermines recipients’ incentive to find work. All this means an overall slowing of economic growth and a perpetuation of current socioeconomic status.

The Force of the Diaspora

The link between remittances in the Arab world and poverty is clear. Brain drain perpetuates and high amounts of remittance inflow and outflow persist if living conditions remain unchanged. Policymakers are therefore focusing efforts on enticing emigrants to return to their countries of origin. By strengthening ties with migrant networks, and implementing strategies like entrepreneurial start-up incentives and talent plans, the initial negative effects of brain drain could be curbed.

Overall, though brain drain and remittances can seem to hurt development in the short-term, if policies can draw high-skilled workers back, contributions to long-term economic development can erase these negative aspects altogether. Young populations that have emigrated to more developed countries acquire education and valuable experience that is essential to promote entrepreneurship in their home countries. Moreover, their experiences in advanced democracies can bolster their contribution to improved governance in their countries of origin. The Arab world’s greatest untapped potential is its diaspora, and it could be the key to a more prosperous future, if only it can be harnessed.

Natalie Marie Abdou
Photo: Flickr

Start Up Nation 
Out of the ashes of World War II rose a small, independent nation situated on the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1948, the nation of Israel has become a great leader in innovation and technology. In just 70 years, Israeli settlers have transformed the country’s desert landscape into lush green gardens by high-tech agricultural methods. With a population just over 8.5 million, Israel has earned the nickname “Start-Up Nation” which rose to popularity in 2009 after Israeli author Dan Senor’s book.

MASHAV Providing Humanitarian Aid

Since 1958, Israel has been committed to providing humanitarian aid through the Foreign Ministry’s Center for International Cooperation and provides more assistance to more than 140 countries. MASHAV helps alleviate hunger, disease and poverty by providing technology and training to places all across the globe including Cambodia, Guatemala, Albania and Ethiopia.

Since 1959, MASHAV has been sending Israeli eye-doctors to countries throughout the developing world to help combat preventable blindness and ocular disease. It has also introduced Israeli drip-irrigation systems to sub-Saharan African countries to aid in providing water to more regions, especially during times of drought. MASHAV has also started a project called Indo-Israel Agriculture Project, which teaches farmers throughout India new agricultural methods.

The Pears Program for Global Innovation

Israel has made it a priority to assist developing countries through entrepreneurial efforts. The country has “the largest number of startups per capita in the world, 1 startup for every 1,400 people.” One example is a company called The Pears Program for Global Innovation, which aids people affected by poverty by supporting Israeli innovators and companies that create technology-based, financially sustainable solutions.

The Pears Program is responsible for several innovations that could have a lasting impact on the world. For example, through its support to the Mosteq company, Israel has found a way to sterilize mosquitos, which could significantly lower, and eventually, end the spread of diseases like malaria. The company, Soapy, has invented smart capsules containing soap and water to facilitate hygiene in countries where sanitation is an issue or there is little access to clean water.

Ideas for the Future

According to Technion International, “Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than Europe, Japan, Korea, India, and China combined.” What is the secret that makes Israel so ingenious and resourceful? “At the heart of this combined impulse is an instinctive understanding that the challenge facing every developed country […] is to become an idea factory, which includes both generating ideas at home and taking advantage of ideas generated elsewhere,” says Senor in his book “Start-Up Nation.”  Furthermore, Israel values education, which helps to foster innovation.

Idea generation has become the backbone of Israeli society. It has allowed the country to thrive in a desert ecosystem, deliver aid to thousands of countries and defend itself from outside attacks. According to the New York Times, “Years of dealing with terrorist attacks, combined with an advanced medical technology sector, have made Israel one of the nimblest countries in disaster relief.” Other humanitarian programs in Israel are continuing efforts outside and inside the country, like Ziv Hospital, which has treated more than 2,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border seeking urgent medical attention.

The Israeli Innovation Authority estimates that, over the next decade, there will be a shortage of 10,000 engineers and programmers in the high-tech sector. Although this gap allows for future economic growth, it is a big concern for policymakers. Who will fill these gaps? Will Israel continue to be the Start-Up Nation of the World? Hopefully, Israel’s commitment to entrepreneurship in developing countries will come in handy and create more jobs within the country for migrant workers.

Grace Klein

Photo: Flickr

Guyana microfinance, social entrepreneurship
Guyana is a small South American nation with a population just over 700,000. The country is sparsely populated, with the majority of the population identifying as East-Indian or Afro-Guyanese. According to the World Bank, Guyana is an upper/middle-income country, with a GDP of around $3.6 billion. Guyana’s economy is primarily agricultural, with over 60 percent being comprised of six main exports: sugar, shrimp, gold, bauxite, rice and timber. One way to improve the economy, though, could be through increased levels of entrepreneurship in Guyana.

Guyanese Economic Growth Status

Recently, the fractured Guyanese government fell in a no-confidence vote, endangering already fragile race relations. Economic growth has slowed in the past five years, one-third of the population lives below the poverty line and youth unemployment stands at a staggering 21.6 percent. Many Guyanese agricultural enterprises lack credit history and find it difficult to use livestock as collateral on secured loans, making for higher credit risk.

In addition, over 80 percent of Guyanese citizens with tertiary education reside abroad. The emigration of highly educated citizens may pose another threat, as economic growth is often predicated on national education levels. These underlying issues have contributed to distressingly high youth poverty levels. How can the English-speaking South American country alleviate poverty and unemployment? The answer may lie in microfinance and social entrepreneurship.

Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship in Guyana

In Guyana, there are several privatized financial institutions focused on micro-loans and credit access for the nation’s underbanked. These institutions are characterized as microfinance institutions, and help to provide banking and financial literacy instruction to people and small businesses who would otherwise not receive such support. The main source of income for these institutions comes from interest payments on loans. This financial support is critical for diminishing poverty and improving social mobility.

Microfinance can be significantly expanded among the young people of Guyana. The Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) and the Small Business Development Finance Trust (SBDFT) are two main microfinance organizations and the primary contributors to Guyana’s microfinance sector. As of 2016, the IPED dispersed micro-loans to over 4,500 small businesses — of which only 12 percent of these borrowers were young adults.

This low proportion of youth borrowing could be significantly expanded, as roughly 46 percent of the population in Guyana is under 24 years old. Microfinance efforts have been largely successful in other parts of the world. India’s Range De has successfully reached over 18 Indian states with a 93 percent repayment rate, collateral-free.

Potential for Social Entrepreneurship

Another key element to alleviating poverty in Guyana is expanding social entrepreneurship. According to a Duke University newsletter, social entrepreneurs are defined as business innovators that “play the role of change agents in the social sector.” Focusing loan and microfinance efforts on young entrepreneurs with a social focus will help to decrease youth unemployment rates while simultaneously lowering overall poverty.

Not only would educated citizens choose to remain in Guyana, but lucrative business prospects may attract non-natives to the country. Incubators and credit advisory services are two financial inclusion tactics that have taken root in Africa and South Asia. Tiwale, a Malawi-based startup focused on empowering female education, serve as an excellent role-model for similar enterprises in Guyana. These market-based solutions would help to alleviate poverty and simultaneously stimulate the economy.

Spurring Progress

Credit access and social enterprise efforts have already begun to transpire within the nation. IPED’s recent expansion will help to spur financial access for Guyana’s underbanked. Technological growth and introduction in Guyana will also augment social enterprises and allow for increased scalability. If the microfinance and social entrepreneurship sectors are able to flourish in Guyana, there is a bright future for the nation’s youth.

– Alexander Aguilera
Photo: Flickr

Women Entrepreneurship Opportunities Many governments and companies around the world have come to realize that encouraging the advancement of women is essential to the development of communities as a whole.

Five organizations, in particular, are making huge strides to help women entrepreneurship through financing and training programs.

Kiva

Kiva is a crowdfunded lending organization that gives loans to those who can’t access fair and affordable sources of credit.

As an international nonprofit organization operating in over 80 countries, it provides opportunities for people who are financially excluded from the capital to become farmers, pursue an education, or develop business ventures.

It operates by pooling money from lenders that each pay a small part of the loans to minimize the cost to individual lenders while maximizing its effectiveness by joining resources with others.

Since 2005, Kiva has funded $1.22 billion worth of loans to 3 million lenders. While loans are available to both men and women, 81 percent of Kiva borrowers are women.

In support of Kiva’s values and success, Bank of America and the U.S. Department of State partnered with Kiva in 2017 to support the “Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund” that hopes to support 1 million women entrepreneurs by 2021.

Kula Project

The Kula Project is an organization that works out of Rwanda. It is designed to develop entrepreneurs through vocational fellowship programs.

These programs provide business investment training, tips on creating or improving business plans and industry training in artisan goods, coffee farming and agribusiness.

Another important part of the Kula Project’s resources is its one-on-one mentorships that provide information on financial planning, family health and business leadership.

Both men and women can participate in the Kula Project’s fellowship program, but women are particularly benefitting through the organization’s Women’s Centers that focus on training them to create their own sewing, weaving and agriculture businesses to sell handmade products on the local market.

With a business model that focuses on listening to the needs of the community, Kula Project is working to plant the seeds for future success and allow the community to sustain its own development.

Women’s Global Empowerment Fund

The Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (WGEF) provides both microcredit loans and vocational training for business and leadership development for women in Uganda.

WGEF aims to create sustainable human development through the use of social capital building programs that aim to alleviate poverty, empower women, strengthen food security and health among families and generate an atmosphere of self-determination.

The Credit Plus program created by WGEF has assisted women in opening restaurants, bakeries, hotels, construction projects and small to medium scale agriculture projects that also increase local food production, giving women entrepreneurs the opportunity to be new leaders in society.

These successes are even more impressive due to the nature of the post-conflict region.

The clients of WGEF have been former abductees, child soldiers and victims of gender-based violence and they have the full support of the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund.

Friendship Bridge

According to the United Nations and Harvard Business Review, when women earn an income, they invest 90 percent of it into their families and communities. In comparison, men invest 35 percent for the same purpose.

With this understanding, Friendship Bridge works with a mission to empower impoverished communities in Guatemala by supporting women entrepreneurs.

Friendship Bridge uses their Microcredit Plus Program, small loans to impoverished women, as a sustainable business model to lift women out of poverty.

The organization relies on a group lending model that they call “Trust Banks” to instill accountability but also to create support through social capital. Today, the organization helps to support as many as 22,000 women.

Friendship Bridge’s Client Continuum strategy believes that the combination of financial capital (credit), human capital (skills) and social capital (networks) accelerate the services they provide to not only become entrepreneurs but leaders as well.

Clients are required to undergo non-formal education sessions to accompany their microloans, with options for further mentorship and advanced training in business practices or technical training.

These educational advancements have helped women open businesses in textiles, the food industry and has given people the opportunity to access education.

As an added bonus to this organization’s great work in alleviating poverty, it is addressing the largest group of immigrants coming to America, assist them in creating livelihoods and make them want to stay.

Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi)

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, backed by the World Bank, works to address the financial and social constraints that small and medium women-owned enterprises face in developing countries.

This is a widespread collaborative initiative that includes 14 governments, 8 multilateral development banks and both public and private stakeholders.

Starting with $340 million for women entrepreneurs in the first year, the organization is expected to mobilize $1.6 billion in additional investment funds from the public and private sectors and development partners.

These funds will work to provide women with access to debt, equity, venture capital and insurance markets, link women-led small and medium enterprises to supply chains, connect women entrepreneurs with networks and mentorship and improve legal limitations that constrain women-led businesses.

These five organizations and initiatives have proven invaluable in changing the quality of women’s lives, and consequently, transforming the communities in which they live.

Advocacy remains an important part of this change in making sure that people are aware of these ideas and opportunities for change.

– Sara Andresen

Photo: Flickr

 

Youth Entrepreneurs in Africa
The world is full of innovative thinkers and passionate experimenters. To ensure that these minds are able to make a lasting impact on the world, there needs to be certain types of support to exponentially increase the success rate of the idea. One such support avenue is to encourage youth entrepreneurs in Africa to utilize their skill sets and ideas to benefit not only their communities but also the globe.

The Youth for Africa and SDGs (YAS!) Portal Platform

Recently, the United Nations Development Program launched a Pan-African Entrepreneurship Portal-Platform with the help of Accenture in East, West, and Southern Africa to create an online support community for youth entrepreneurs in Africa.

The Youth for Africa and SDGs (YAS!) Portal Platform was designed and implemented with the intention to cultivate an online network that would promote mentorship between youth entrepreneurs in Africa and established professionals, funding for members and projects, sharing of information that would lead to future developments, and networking between individuals with similar interests and goals.

“YAS! will better serve the private sector with innovation, supplier diversification and talent on the African continent and in parallel accelerate the growth of the entrepreneurship eco-system,” said Sandiso Sibisi, Accenture Africa’s Open Innovation Lead.

Youth for Africa and SDGs’ Four Pillars of Support

The Youth for Africa and SDGs focus on its four pillars of support: Learn, Ecosystem Map, Challenges, and Opportunities.

  1. Learning would help youth entrepreneurs in Africa start strongly with their entrepreneurship. The YAS! Portal-Platform would provide its members with key concepts important in having a successful enterprise development as well as news about other African leaders.
  2. An ecosystem map allows for users to provide or accept funding for certain entrepreneurships and have access to a network of other professionals and young African entrepreneurs. This map would connect the entrepreneurship stakeholders with service providers, corporations.
  3. There are certain challenges that young African entrepreneurs can focus on to receive recognition of a financial award. These challenges are related to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations. This specific pillar is critical for the purpose of this organization as ending poverty and creating a better future for the futures of young African entrepreneurs drives this platform.
  1. Lastly, the opportunities that come with the platform is indispensable for youth entrepreneurs in Africa. These young individuals are able to learn more about the global entrepreneurship and connect with leading entrepreneurs, potential investors, and opportunistic corporates.

“YAS! is a much needed Pan African digital mechanism for youth entrepreneurs to access opportunities and contribute to the positive transformation of the continent through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Tomas Sales, the United Nations Development Programme Advisor for Private Sector.

YAS! and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals are important in any plan for the future because those 17 goals are designed to apply universally to all peoples.

As the Millennium Development Goals are the predecessors to the SDGs, it can be stated without a doubt that these goals are working towards a better world for all. In the case of YAS!, the most important goals are to end poverty, protect the environment and allow people to have the freedom of choice in their futures.

A New and Improved World

A YAS! Informational Leaflet asserts that it focuses on Sustainable Development Goals because they “present a universal call to action by the United Nations for all stakeholders to join efforts to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.”

This digital platform serves to be a place for young entrepreneur minds to flourish and grow while serving as an advocate for achieving the U.N.’s SDGs.

It will allow people to connect with each other as well as work together in achieving something more than just an idea or a project. With YAS!, the entire future can change as these young minds are given the opportunity to work for bettering the world and their lives.

– Jenny S. Park
Photo: Flickr

Female Entrepreneurs in Latin AmericaThe entrepreneurial spirit is catching in South America. According to the World Bank, 63 percent of Latin Americans believe they have what it takes to start a successful business. Meanwhile, local governments are offering support to local entrepreneurs. In Chile, the environment is so strong for startups that it has been dubbed “Chilecon Valley.”

Despite this, there is still widespread poverty in the region. An estimated 25 percent of the population lives below the poverty line of $4 a day. The situation is even worse for women, as only 53 percent participate in the labor force. Fortunately, three women are aiming to change that by helping their local communities and being role models for prospective female entrepreneurs in Latin America.

Leila Velez

Leila Velez is a Brazilian entrepreneur who is aiming to bring the efficiency of waste management in the fast food industry to beauty salons. She started her business, Beleza Natural, at 19 years old with the hope of bringing the accessibility of places like McDonald’s to the beauty industry. Now, her company has locations all over Brazil and employs 3,000 people, many of whom Velez says are single mothers in their early 20s.

While Velez may have modeled aspects of her salons after fast food, she did not want them to become another low paying job people take on temporarily. She wanted to provide career opportunities that give her employees sustainability in life. She says working at her salon is the first job of 90 percent of her employees and she wants her company to offer the opportunity to build a career rather than be a temporary stop.

Jimena Flórez

When Jimena Flórez began her initiative to educate rural farmers about sustainability, she had no idea it would lead to an international snack food company. Chaak Healthy Snacks, originally called Crispy Fruits, works closely with local Colombian farmers to provide healthy snack foods like low sugar brownies to 90,000 kids per month.

Flórez’s company started out trying to help out local Colombian farmers by helping them use organic techniques she learned from relatives in Germany. When she visited her family’s German brewery after college, she knew she could bring the information back to help Columbians. This led to a dry fruit company that later rebranded to healthy snack foods to appeal to an international audience.

In 2015, former President Barack Obama invited Florez to attend a Global Entrepreneurship Event where he thanked her for “helping to lift up his community.” As one of six young entrepreneurs invited, Florez is primed to expand and continue to provide healthy snacks all over the world as one of the many rising female entrepreneurs in Latin America.

Marian Villa Roldán

Being a female entrepreneur is difficult anywhere, but in Latin America, where a certain level of masculinity called “machismo” is integral to the culture, it is more difficult. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean found that 40 percent of Latin American women have been on the receiving end of violence in their lives. This negative attitude toward femininity goes all the way to the top, where only 17 percent of executive positions are held by women.

Marian Villa Roldan and her company Eversocial are out to change that. Eversocial, an online marketing and design company, has supported numerous initiatives that empower Latin American women, including PionerasDev, which helps teach young women how to code. Eversocial has also supported Geek Girls LatAm, a similar organization that helps Latin American women get into STEM fields.

Success for Female Entrepreneurs in Latin America

Latin American women pursuing careers in entrepreneurship are succeeding in a tough environment, but they do not let that stop them from giving back to their communities. Whether it be through providing employment, offering a helpful product, or supporting noble causes, these women fight poverty and serve as role models for the next generation of female entrepreneurs in Latin America.

– Jonathon Ayers
Photo: Flickr

Empowering Women Through Education and Entrepreneurship
A majority of the world’s poor are women, and gender inequality pervasive in countries around the world is a key reason for this occurrence. Women face barriers to obtaining education and entering the economy that men do not — globally, 33 million fewer girls than boys are enrolled in primary education, and women constitute 61 percent of the illiterate population between the ages of 15 and 24.

Education and Entrepreneurship

Empowering women through education and entrepreneurship reduces poverty by increasing their employability and enabling them to provide for their families and contribute to the economic development of their communities.

Without education, girls are more likely to be trafficked or become child brides; it is also more likely that women and their families will live in poverty. Education is crucial to the reduction of poverty, as it enables women to acquire jobs, help provide for their families and contribute to their local economy.

Women’s incomes rise between 10-20 percent per year of education they receive. This rise in income can be the factor that raises families out of poverty, as women reinvest 90 percent of their incomes into their families (50-60 percent more than men do). This can improve a family’s economic status and increases its food security.

Empowerment in the Workplace

However, many women and girls do not receive the education they need to acquire good jobs. Even women who can obtain an education are not guaranteed work in some developing countries where social norms relegate women to the domestic sphere. In fact, these options can often consign women to duties of housework and childcare and discourage them from entering the workforce.

By empowering women through education and entrepreneurship, women can break down these social norms that restrict not only their own success, but also the prosperity of their communities.

Women who are able to work still face substantial inequality. They often have lower incomes than men in the same positions, and more than one billion women cannot access basic financial services. For example, women farmers in many developing countries are restricted from owning land, accessing credit and acquiring productive resources.

Women also do not receive the same support from national and international development organizations as men do, though they on average produce higher values of output than men. Empowering women through education and entrepreneurship can reduce poverty by allowing women to be productive workers and contribute to the economy.

Economic Benefits of Female Empowerment

The World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization estimate that developing countries’ agricultural output would increase by between 2.5-4 percent if female farmers had equal access to productive agricultural resources and services. If such resources became available, it would reduce the number of hungry people worldwide by 150 million.

In Malawi and Ghana, improving women’s access to resources increased the production of corn by more than 15 percent, and Burkina Faso experienced a production gain of six percent when fertilizer and labor were reallocated on an equal basis.

With the rapidly rising global population, this increase in food production is crucial to people’s survival. In addition, if gender inequality and the financial barriers women face are addressed, $28 trillion could be added to the global annual GDP by 2025.

Addressing & Reducing Global Poverty

To reduce global poverty, the world needs women; but women need the opportunity to obtain an education and be a part of the economy. The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act and the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act both empower women. They both have the ability to reduce poverty by helping women achieve equality and would each cost less than $500,000 over a four-year period.

The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education Act would prioritize efforts to provide girls and women — particularly those in vulnerable settings such as conflict zones and refugee camps — access to safe primary and secondary education. It would focus on reducing discrimination against displaced girls and improving their educational and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act would require the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to conduct a gender-analysis to identify and understand gender gaps so as to better address these in the workplace. Gender-specific measures to empower women would be established in USAID programs, and the agency would expand support for businesses owned and managed by women. The act also emphasizes the importance of eliminating gender-based violence.

Goal of Gender Equality

The United Nations, FAO, World Bank, World Economic Forum and others all recognize the importance of gender equality in the reduction of global poverty. The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act and the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act are two bills the United States government could pass to help solve the issue of gender inequality and poverty.

Empowering women through education and entrepreneurship will reduce poverty levels among current and future generations, and will benefit not only developing countries but the whole world as well. ­

– Laura Turner
Photo: Flickr

Ghana
In early Ghanaian society women were seen only as child-bearers subservient to male dominance. In fact, a famous Ghanaian proverb states, “A house without a woman is like a barn without cows.” Women in Ghana have faced strict societal gender norms and fought to make great strides towards overcoming them, specifically in the workforce.

Ghanaian Women in the Workforce

Ghanaian women in the workforce are greatly involved, and heavily impact Ghana’s economy. These improvements for Ghanaian women have come in the last decade, and one company, “Divine Chocolate,” has been a huge contributor for this change.

Divine Chocolate has changed the lives of many farmers, and has specifically improved conditions for Ghanaian women in the workforce. The organization started a Women’s Cocoa Farming Training program that not only teaches women reading, writing and arithmetic, but it also teaches small business skills and specific trades: soap making, batik, and vegetable gardening, to name a few. This knowledge can add to Ghanian women’s income and help provide for themselves and their families.

Efforts such as these have not only taught women valuable skills and given them new work opportunities, but it has also greatly empowered Ghana women. In addition to the valuable skills taught by “Divine Chocolate,” another company fighting for Ghana women is called “Global Mamas.”

Global Involvement

Global Mamas helps a village in southern Ghana with their textile industry and connects them with a larger global marketplace to sell their goods. The women are also provided with training for their future work and given a new opportunity in the textile industry.

Ghanaian women in the workforce have persevered in the face of adversity, especially against societal views against them. Women face many more challenges entering into work than their male counterparts do, but this has not stopped them. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor even revealed in a study that Ghana women are more often entrepreneurial than the men in their country.   

Female participation in the workforce in Ghana is at an all-time high of 96.1 percent. Ghanaian women are not only involved in the workforce, but they are also leading it. According to the Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship, women in Ghana make up 46.4 percent of all business owners in the country.

Over the past decade, women in Ghana have made great strides working and boosting their economy. Females are powerful, as seen in the entrepreneurial attitude and success of Ghana’s women. These strides in the workforce create new opportunities for women throughout the country and will continue to have an impact for the future of Ghanaian women in the workforce.

– Ronni Winter

Photo: Flickr

global entrepreneurshipAs historically less developed countries begin industrializing, their citizens are taking the opportunity to start exciting new businesses, and global investors are taking notice. U.S. investors are looking into African, Asian and South American start-up companies to invest in. While the motivation behind this investment may be profit-oriented, it also creates an interconnected world that is economically dependant on each other.

Why Countries are Investing in Global Start-Ups

  1. Support from Global Governments: One big reason why global entrepreneurship has taken off is governments worldwide are supporting it. In 2017, the U.S. and India jointly hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to connect with prospective investors. On top of that, governments worldwide are putting resources into building up their entrepreneurial communities. The six-month program, Start-Up Chile, offers its students $35,000 and a one-year visa to move to Chile and grow their business.  
  2. Great Locations: As the entrepreneurial spirit spreads in a country, like-minded people flock at epicenters of design. For example, Santiago, Chile has been dubbed “Chillecon Valley” due to its high number of tech start-ups. Similarly, Buenos Aires has an electric entrepreneurial community that creates competition and cooperation between different companies. This spirit (and the great weather) attracts entrepreneurs to relocate from around the world.
  3. Highly Skilled at Low Costs: As an investment opportunity, global entrepreneurs offer considerable value for their cost. Due to the relatively low cost of living in less developed countries, entrepreneurial cities are an attractive place for skilled people to move to. Some experts estimate that highly skilled tech workers in Argentina can be hired for 25-35 percent of the cost of their U.S. counterparts.

How Investing Supports Peace Worldwide

  1. An Interconnected World: By creating business ties between countries, peace becomes an economic necessity. Some economists believe the best way to achieve global peace is to create a world that is so economically dependent on one another that conflict would be mutually destructive. While total economic dependence may not come anytime soon, on a smaller scale the theory works the same way.
  2. Global Entrepreneurship Helps People Globally: Global Entrepreneurship greatly improves the quality of life for participants. Not only do successful small business owners help themselves, but they also contribute to the local economy by employing local workers. Therefore, by helping people start businesses worldwide, developed countries can help eliminate global poverty one start-up at a time.
  3. Increased Stability: Evidence suggests that one of the main causes of political unrest is not religion or culture, but rather the economy. As people are unable to find well-paying jobs, they search for alternative vehicles to express their unrest. In this way, global entrepreneurship is an asset to national security. Providing people with resources and support to help themselves is cost-effective and works to eliminate causes of civil unrest rather than covering up symptoms.

The U.S. government is supporting global entrepreneurship by co-hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit with India. Meanwhile, people are investing in start-ups worldwide to get a jump-start on the next big company. Through both of these actions, global entrepreneurship is getting the push it needs to improve economic conditions and create world peace.  

– Jonathon Ayers
Photo: Flickr

Medellín’s Transformation
In 1993, Colombia had the highest homicide rate in the world at 420 per 100,000 people, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Medellin was said to be the most dangerous city in Colombia during this time, but has gone through great changes in the past two decades. Medellín’s transformation is an inspiring model for many cities previously affected by violence and war.

Danger of Medellín

In the 1980s, Medellín was considered to be one of the most violent cities in the globe. In fact, TIME Magazine named Medellín the most dangerous city in the world due to the high crime and murder rates in 1988.

At the time, Medellín was home to Pablo Escobar’s cartel and cocaine empire. There was a lack of government control of the city and crime rates exponentially increased. Additionally, the nation was also affected by the internal conflict between Colombia and the internal guerilla groups. In 1991, the city experienced 6,349 killings, bringing its annual rate to 181 per 100,000 people.

Transformation of Medellín

Since then, the city has put in place many violence prevention programs, invested in social entrepreneurship, created effective public transportation, transformed public spaces and improved some of the worst neighborhoods severely affected by the internal war.

In the past 20 years, homicide rate has been cut by 95 percent and the poverty rate by 66 percent.  Now, the annual rate of killings per year is fewer than 50 per 100,000 people and it contributes more than 8 percent of Colombia’s GDP, as its second largest city.

Forty percent of Colombia’s exports now come from Medellín. Additionally, 9 out of the top 50 medical facilities in the Americas are located in Medellín. In 2012, Medellín was even named the most innovative city in the world by the Urban Land Institute. Medellín’s transformation began with its public transportation system. The first metro ride in Medellín took place in 1995, and since then, it has become the most effective public transportation system in Colombia.

Transportation in Medellín

Additional lines were added and the cable car were built in the 2000s. The transportation project in Medellin connected the entire city, including slums previously neglected by the government. Additionally, escalators were built to facilitate access for people in the slums — citizens in areas such as Comuna 13 used to walk 1,300 feet, but due to the transportation advancements, they came to experience further integration with surrounding areas.

Such developments allowed many living in poor areas outside of the city to take on jobs in the city center, and shortened the commute time for all people in Medellín. To this day, the metro and its stations are still very clean, safe and well maintained within the city.

Social Entrepreneurship and Social Change

Medellín’s transformation is also largely due to its investment in education and social programs. Medellín is known for its investment in social entrepreneurship. A part of revenues earned by the city is invested in organizations such as Ruta N, which work to promote social innovation and technological development.

People in poor areas are also encouraged to start their own businesses, shop, or cafe; such business endeavors are facilitated by entrepreneurial development centers that provide cheap credit loans. Medellín’s transformation ignited economic growth and rapid change for the city by becoming an international hub for business, innovation and tourism.

Such developments have shown that areas affected by violence can change for the better through investment in urban development and innovation.

– Luz Solano-Flórez
Photo: Pixabay