Using the Internet for DevelopmentIf you are reading this, you are lucky enough to have something that 4.1 billion people go without every day- internet access. And while the internet may be used for a variety of frivolous and silly things like cat videos, memes and gifs, it has also become an indispensable part of daily life in the developed world. The internet also has the potential to drastically improve life for the world’s extreme poor. One study estimated that guaranteeing internet access for everyone would lift 500 million people out of poverty and add over $6 trillion to the global economy. Some people are already taking action. Here are six countries that are using the internet as the most important mean for development.

  1. Colombia.  Thirty-nine percent of Colombia’s citizens live under the poverty line, with the poorest living on under $2 a day. In response, the government has taken steps in using the internet for development by ensuring internet access for 96 percent of this tropical nation’s population. In three years, this infrastructure development raised at least 2.5 million people out of poverty. As the Minister for Technology, Diego Molano, said in an interview with The Guardian: “When we connect, for example, a rural school to Internet, when we connect a small school in the middle of the jungle to Internet, those kids in the middle of nowhere have effectively the same opportunity to access the whole of information society — just like any kid in New York, London or Paris.”
  2. China. While crowdfunding is common in the United States, it is usually not used on a such a wide scale as in China. The Chinese government has recently released an online program called Social Participation in Poverty Alleviation and Development, designed to lift at least 47 million people out of extreme poverty. Essentially, it uses social media platforms such as WeChat to allow normal citizens to help struggling families. At least $3.45 million has been raised for various projects that cover education, agriculture and more important social and economic issues, using the internet as the basis for development.
  3. Kenya. Private industry can make a difference as well. In Kenya, online banking systems such as M-PESA have helped to lift citizens out of poverty. Tavneet Suri, an economist at MIT decided to study the impacts of this phenomenon. She found that for 10 percent of families living on less than $1.25 a day using a mobile banking system was enough to lift them out of extreme poverty. The effect was even more marked amongst women. The mobile system allowed female-led families to save 22 percent more money than before.
  4. Bhutan. The small country of Bhutan located high in the Himalayan mountains has been isolated from the outside world for most of its history. The onset of the digital age changed that. The government has actively encouraged its citizens’ adoption of the internet by moving bureaucratic processes. With the support of the World Bank, information communications technology will continue to expand. In 15 years alone, the number of internet users in Bhutan grew by over 300 thousand.
  5. Rwanda. Though Rwanda may still be known in the international community for its horrific ethnic genocide, in recent years, the country has taken multiple steps towards development. The government has launched an effort called Vision2020 to cultivate an entrepreneurial, tech-savvy middle class. Internet connections are widespread throughout the country and are used for innovative purposes. One philanthropist started the Incike Initiative, an annual crowdfund that provides health care for the survivors of the genocide. Another entrepreneur started a platform called Girl Hub that allows women to give their opinions to local news sources. Rwanda fully utilizes the internet for development.
  6. Peru. With support from the international community, the Peruvian government is making efforts to connect more than 300 thousand people in rural areas to the national electric grid and, through this, to the internet as well. This connection has wider implications, especially for education. Students in these isolated areas can now be exposed to ideas in the wider world. This encourages engagement. A teacher in one of these villages, Teresa Uribe says that the kids now want to learn more, thanks to the technology.

These stories show the power of the internet to enact positive change in the developing world. If you too are interested in using the internet for development, take this opportunity to email your representatives about anti-poverty legislation. The internet’s potential should not go wasted.

– Lydia Cardwell
Photo: Flickr

Tourism Reduces Poverty

Machu Pichu is a premier tourist destination in the developing country of Peru. It is listed as one of the new seven wonders of the world, attracts over 1.2 million tourists each year and continues to be incredibly well preserved. Peruvian tourism authorities are restricting access to the Incan ruins to minimize the impact of the millions of visitors who journey to the ancient citadel each year. Efforts like these have preserved most of the city and its buildings that are over 500 years old. Machu Pichu is the “golden goose” of the Incan ruins that are spread throughout Peru and has shown that tourism reduces poverty.

Machu Pichu

The ancient citadel was built on a mountain ridge in the Cusco region for the Incan emperor Pachacuti around 1450. It was soon abandoned during the Spanish conquest, but its isolated location left it completely unnoticed by the conquistadors, who were responsible for the destruction of most Incan relics. Machu Pichu remained unknown to the outside world until 1911, when it was discovered by American historian Hiram Bingham. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 and still features its famous astronomical clock, Temple of the Sun and Room of Three Windows that have given historians and tourists an accurate glimpse into Incan life.

Tourism in Peru

The astronomical growth in the popularity of Machu Pichu, from having around 800,000 visitors in 1980 to over 1.2 million in 2013, has made tourism an essential development tool in Peru. According to a guide for Akorn Destination Management, “tourism is the main industry in the region of Cuzco followed by mining and then agriculture.” Tourism reduces poverty in Peru by providing the government with tax revenue from restaurants, sales and income, in addition to the $6 million generated per year from Machu Pichu’s entrance fee.

The Peruvian people also benefit from the enormous popularity and interest in the ancient ruins, through a multiplier effect, a phenomenon whereby a given change in a particular input causes a larger change in output. The new money that is brought into the economy by tourists attracts new businesses and services that are highly labor intensive, which creates millions of jobs for Peruvians. Both the employment benefits for Peruvians and the tax dollars going to the government are having a positive impact on the overall economy.

The Economy in Peru

Peru is one of the world’s fastest growing economies with a GDP of 6.3 percent in 2011 and is classified as an upper-middle economy. According to the guide, “Peru has grown exponentially in the last decade.” This steady increase in GDP has been coupled with tourism in Peru, growing by an annual rate of 25 percent. Overall, travel and tourism contribute 10.1 percent to the country’s GDP and supports 1,366,500 jobs. Thus, Peru has the largest tourism sector in all of South America and is one of the leaders in the global tourism industry.

Tourism is responsible for 5 percent of the world’s GDP and over 235 million jobs. It is an important development tool for developing countries, which host several of the world’s wonders. Peru’s use of Machu Pichu as a tool for domestic progress is a prime example of how tourism reduces poverty.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Unsplash

Legalizing Coca Leaf Production
A recent study on the benefits of coca leaf legalization has spurred lobbying efforts in Colombia, with advocates encouraging the country to legalize its production rather than attempting to eradicate the crop. Using coca leaves has been a traditional practice among indigenous South Americans for thousands of years. Before the leaf was harvested and manufactured into cocaine, it was chewed or made into a tea. It provides medicinal and health benefits like treating nausea and can be used for an energy boost.

Before industrialization, when working long days of hard labor, workers—especially some of the underprivileged farmers—would chew coca leaves for the effect of the stimulant but also to satiate hunger pangs while working on an empty stomach. Coca leaves also provide essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins like A, B1, B6, C and E. Chewing and brewing coca leaves is a natural way of taking dietary supplements.

Peru and Bolivia See Benefits from Legalizing Coca Leaf Production

The government of Peru formed the National Coca Company of Peru (ENACO) in 1949, pushing for legalizing coca leaf production in order to make items and medicines derived from coca leaves. Farmers growing leaves for chewing to be sold to ENACO got their land certified for legal growth in 1978. ENACO does not only cultivate legal coca leaves for local traditional uses, but also sells its products around the world. One of the most common uses is as a natural anesthetic for eye surgery; ENACO is one of two companies that produce coca leaves for this medicinal purpose.

Coca production in Bolivia, however, is more recent. Bolivia has the third world’s largest crop of coca leaves (after Columbia and Peru) with about 67,000 acres used for farming. In 2011, the Bolivian Community Coca Company was founded by the government for the legal cultivation and purchase of coca leaves to be made into flour, ointments, and other products. In 2013, the Bolivian government sought to market coca-based toothpaste to the public with the intention of battling the illicit use of the drug. By using the drug for products like toothpaste or flour, there will be more use of coca leaves for legal industrialization and less for illegal drug trafficking.

How the Legal Coca Leaf Could Help Colombia

Legalizing coca leaf production in the long term could benefit Colombia economically, politically and socially. Allowing coca leaf farms could offset expensive anti-drug efforts like crop substitution, where the government buys out farmers of their current crop and looks to replace it with a different, legal product. However, crop substitution is costly and non-sustainable, especially if the demand for cocaine does not change. If the uses for coca leaves remain the same while their cultivation is restricted by the government, it will merely increase the price of the drug and make crime worse.

Bolivia and Peru are examples of the benefits of legalizing coca leaf production. These countries show that the medicinal benefits can be harnessed to create a market that effectively limits the illicit use of the leaves by taking away from the crops that would be used to make cocaine. Opening a legal market for coca leaves to be made into useful items like flour, ointments, toothpaste and other products would help lower the amount of drug trafficking and create new opportunities for coca leaf farmers to sell this indigenous plant.

– David Daniels
Photo: Flickr

Citizens that live in poverty suffer from a multitude of diseases, but they do not have enough money or even the means of transportation to receive proper treatment. This makes the need for healthcare in Peru a top priority for missionaries and non-profit organizations.

Peru’s economy has been booming since the global financial crisis years back, but their government does not spend enough of its money on health care. Government spending on healthcare in Peru is about 5.5 percent, which is much lower than the United States at 17.1 percent, according to Healthcare Economist.

Healthcare In Peru

Peru is a country with approximately 31 million people, but MedLife reports that one-third of the population does not have access to basic health care. In rural parts of the country where poverty is more prominent, healthcare is even more inaccessible. The city of Cusco, which is the main destination for tourists, does not provide adequate healthcare services for citizens, so people are forced to travel to neighboring towns.

Peru Health reported that the leading cause of death among citizens in Peru is respiratory disease resulting from influenza and pneumonia with an average of 17,399 deaths per year. Most of the time these ailments are easily curable, but because of lack of access to proper healthcare, citizens in Peru are more vulnerable to these types of diseases.

HIV/AIDS is the fifth cause of death in Peru. It is estimated that there are 74,000 citizens in Peru currently living with HIV/AIDS and an estimated 5,046 people die from the disease each year. Tuberculosis is also a major threat to Peruvians, causing about 2,300 deaths a year, according to Peru Health. Because of high contagion rates, hospitals are likely to turn away patients if there are not enough safe rooms available. 

Peru has one of the highest death rates for pregnant women in the Americas, according to Amnesty International. Indigenous pregnant women, who are living in poverty, are being denied access to basic healthcare. They don’t have access to emergency care or information about maternal healthcare, and there are not enough medical doctors who speak native indigenous languages making it even more of a challenge to receive healthcare in Peru.

Volunteers Around the World

Volunteers Around the World (VAW) is a non-profit organization that strives to provide medical and dental treatment, clean water and health education to citizens living in poverty in different countries around the world. VAW opened its medical outreach chapter in 2015 to serve the need for healthcare in Peru.

Senior at Augusta University, Zach Sweatman, went on a medical mission trip with Volunteers Around the World to Urcos, Peru. Sweatman and the other volunteers set up a clinic every day with an intake, vitals, consultation and pharmacy section in order to help with the need for healthcare in Peru. Sweatman said that the team provided free healthcare and pharmaceuticals to 100 patients every day for two weeks.

According to Sweatman, Urcos is a small farming and mining town about an hour and a half away from Cusco, where the closest hospital is. Citizens don’t have enough money for transportation to get medical assistance when they fall ill, so they have to either fight it off with their immune system or, in severe cases, die. Sweatman also added that sanitary conditions in the area are a large part of the problem because of the parasites and other bacteria in the water.

Even though Peru is mostly a middle-class nation, the parts of the country that are still poverty-stricken suffer from inaccessible healthcare. Missionaries like Sweatman and Volunteers Around the World travel to Peru each year to help improve the healthcare conditions in the country.

– McKenzie Hamby
Photo: Flickr

Cuddle+Kind Feeds ChildrenA fast-growing social business, Cuddle+Kind feeds children in need by donating ten meals for every handknit doll sold and empowers female Peruvian artisans through fair-trade jobs.

A Global Need for Food

One in seven people worldwide are hungry, and one in nine do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. A reduced diet causes 45 percent of deaths in children under five, which adds up to 3.1 million children every year.

Cuddle+Kind, founded by Derek and Jennifer Woodgate, was created with the aim of reducing these numbers and feeding hungry children around the world. The couple was inspired by their three young children and how heartbroken they would be if they could not feed and provide for them. The Woodgates have a background in health, so they understood the important role that nutrition plays in a child’s life.

The couple spent a year establishing partnerships with artisans in Peru and designing the dolls. Dolls in all different types of animals are available, including dogs, foxes, cats and bunnies. Each comes with a unique name and personality. Cuddle+Kind officially launched in September 2015 on the crowdfunding website In just seven weeks, the company sold enough dolls to donate 163,543 meals.

How Cuddle+Kind Feeds Children

Since its beginning, Cuddle+Kind has moved to its own website but maintains the same mission of providing ten meals for every doll sold. The company aims to provide one million meals to children in need every year. The meals are provided through several partnerships with nonprofits, including the World Food Program, the Children’s Hunger Fund, the Breakfast Club of Canada and several orphanages in Haiti. Through these organizations, Cuddle+Kind feeds children around the world and has donated more than 4,452,292 meals since 2015.

Proper nutrition leads to an increase in school attendance and improved educational performance. Girls have higher school attendance when food is not an issue. Additionally, a child’s psychosocial and emotional development has been linked to proper diet and eating habits. Children who are not fed regularly do not develop the same bonds with a caregiver that is typically established. When a family or community shares a meal there is a social component that a child is exposed to and learns from. As Cuddle+Kind feeds children, it provides them the ability to reach higher academically and grow to be stronger, more capable people.

Empowering Women in Peru

In addition to improving the lives of children, Cuddle+Kind empowers women in Peru by providing them sustainable, fair-trade income for creating the dolls they sell. The business has created over 500 jobs for Peruvian artisans, which is needed in a country where only 39.6 percent of women work in wage or salaried positions as compared to 50.1 percent of men.

Being a socially-minded organization, Cuddle+Kind feeds children with the motive of continually improving the world. As a business that works for the good of children in need and emboldens creative women, Cuddle+Kind is blazing a path of kindness and generosity that will have unending benefits for those they reach.

– Sarah Dean
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in PeruGirls’ education in Peru varies based on geography. In rural communities often located in mountainous regions, only 36 percent of girls are able to finish secondary school education.

Issues Within Peru

Corruption still plagues the country and many of the government sectors are still underdeveloped — as evident when exploring the gap in the education system. However, Peru experienced an economic boom in the past several years. Between 2002 and 2013, the annual average growth rate was 6.1 percent. This growth is due to the nation’s rich abundance of mineral resources, as well as structural reforms that allow for the implementation of infrastructure and programs that counter this issue.

The Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency conducted a study comparing rural to urban education attendance rates. The study found that 83.7 percent of 12 to 16-year-olds attended schools in urban areas compared to the 66.4 percent of the same age group in rural areas.

Contributing Factors to Education Lack

The Peruvian poverty rate pushes parents to allow only one child to continue an education, which leads to an emphasis placed on male education. Statistics show that only 43 percent of rural women complete secondary school, compared to 58 percent of men. This can be attributed to the fact that many girls are expected to balance a life between work, school and domestic chores, which often inhibits the opportunities for an equal education. It is common to encourage work over education, and an estimated 34 percent of children in Peru work in order to help their families. Often their jobs are arduous, and children are rarely adequately paid.

Girls’ education in Peru can often be hindered by family commitments. However, an important contributor to the percentage of female school dropouts is the location of most secondary schools, which are usually found in more urban areas. Long walks to school often reduce the time a girl has to help out in the home and study.

In Peru, 21.7 percent of the population live in poverty. In rural areas, 13 percent of people live in extreme poverty, surviving on an average of $56 per day. This creates a tough environment for the continuation of girls’ education in Peru.

Peruvian Hearts

Over the past several years, programs such as Peruvian Hearts have been set up to ensure girls access to an education beyond elementary school. One such initiative provides scholarships, room and board for secondary school as well as college tuition.

Girls are chosen based on their academic strength, drive and financial need. The organization emphasizes the necessity for family support and ensures each girl’s family commits to that support.

Peruvian Hearts has a 100 percent success rate with its students, and students are found more likely to continue their education with the continuous help of this organization. Such support empowers and provides opportunities for girls who might otherwise lack the resources to do so themselves, while also simultaneously aiding the reduction of poverty in Peru.

Power of Boarding Schools

On top of these programs, boarding schools have been set up in rural areas by organizations such as the Sacred Valley Project. The organization is set up in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. One of their boarding schools here allows students to focus on their education, without the concerns of family or other commitments.

Girls will usually spend the week at school, and if possible, return home at the weekends. The Sacred Valley Project has saved an average of four hours of walking, per day, for each of its 22 students.

Despite certain setbacks, the government of Peru has made strides in the education system. Between 2002-2015, the deficit of schools in rural areas of Peru decreased from 515 to 69 thanks to the Peruvian Ministry of Education. Since 2011, the government’s education budget increased by 88 percent, and its initiative ensured the building of further infrastructure in such rural locations and improving teaching as an industry.

Equal Education

These new priorities are shown in Peru’s staggering progress, and ensures girls access to an education in the future as well. Organizations such as Peruvian Hearts and The Sacred Valley Project are spearheading the rise in education rates, especially for girls in rural communities.

This, paired with the economic boom of Peru and the improvement of their infrastructure, is radically changing the education sector. It is creating an environment where girls have more access to an education, especially in rural areas.

– Trelawny Robinson
Photo: Flickr

biotrade in Peru
Peru’s economy saw a significant boom between 2004 and 2014. However, this growth was achieved in rather unsustainable ways. The U.N. has noted this and has been helping Peru establish more sustainable progress, particularly through what is known as biotrading. Biotrading consists of economic activities such as the collection, production, transformation and commercialization of goods and services from native biodiversity, all while preserving or improving environmental, social and economic sustainability.

The idea behind establishing a green economy in Peru arose in 2012 when four United Nations agencies formed the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE). PAGE’s mission is to redirect investments and policies toward sustainability, which focus on clean technologies, resource efficient infrastructure, functional ecosystems, good governance and green skilled labor.

Biotrade in Action

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the implementation of biotrade will develop a green economy in which human well-being, social equity and the protection and health of the environment will all be improved alongside the economy. In fact, over the last five years, biotrade in Peru has resulted in an average annual growth of 20 percent following an almost 200 percent growth from 2009 to 2010, amounting to $320 million.

An example of the poverty reduction biotrade has offered lies with the Peruvian indigenous plants of tara and quihuicha, as well as the animal called cochineal. In the region of Arequipa, the growing area of quihuicha increased from 150 to 578 hectares within three years, tara production expanded more than 400 hectares and planted cochineal reached 4,400 hectares.

The awareness of the direct link between the success and profitability of biotrade in Peru with the health of ecosystems and biodiversity has led to several initiatives. A major focus is on diminishing deforestation, illegal logging, pollution and soil erosion, in conjunction with commercializing non-timber forest products like Brazil nuts and cat’s claw. There are also efforts to increase genetic diversity in crops as well as decreasing the use of pesticides.

As consumers are increasingly seeking products that provide greater health benefits and quality, companies’ socially responsible and environmentally friendly standards, energy-efficient manufacturing and fair labor and trading practices, biotrade in Peru is becoming a more lucrative endeavor. Consumers are still attracted to such bioproducts despite their 30 percent difference in price compared to conventional products.

The Potential of Biotrade in Peru

Projections state the following about the impact of biotrade in Peru from 2010 to 2020:

  1. The growth of sales exports will increase anywhere from about 519 percent to 2,379 percent.
  2. GDP from biotrade will increase from almost $110 million to $2.7 billion.
  3. Employment growth will increase anywhere from 10,000 new job openings to 271,689 openings, from a 619 percent to 2,717 percent increase.
  4. Carbon sequestration impact increased from 2,592 to 5,184 hectares, where 1 hectare is equivalent to 300 tons of carbon emissions.

Improving the Impact of Biotrade in Peru

Peru has significantly benefitted from biotrade, which has stimulated its transition into a green economy while maintaining its economic growth. However, to further progress biotrade in Peru, achieve the sustainability goals of the U.N. and set a pivotal example for other countries in regard to sustainable growth, Peru must now address the following in the years to come:

  1. Provide greater availability of finance for producers and small and medium-sized enterprises
  2. Increase resources for public policies
  3. Support more research and development
  4. Enhance awareness of bioproducts
  5. Improve capacity building
  6. Facilitate the process of achieving quality and sustainability standards
  7. Address market power for products and producers

With a green economy in mind, Peru, with the help of PAGE, has focused policies and investments on sustainability. Now, Peru experiences economic growth as biotrade exponentially grows annually, new green jobs are created, poverty and inequality are reduced and environmental sustainability is protected and even incentivized. Fruitful results are reached when the health of an economy is interdependent with that of nature.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in LimaThe World Bank defines Peru as a country having upper-middle income, yet its capital city, Lima, is not free from the woes of poverty. With a population of more than 10 million, Lima is affected by a large income discrepancy and is susceptible to many natural disasters. To fully understand the circumstances, here are 10 facts about poverty in Peru’s capital:

10 Facts About Poverty in Lima

  1. The rate of poverty in Lima is currently 13.3 percent, which is 2.3 percent higher than the rate in 2016. However, compared to other Peruvian urban regions, Lima’s spike in the poverty rate is the lowest.
  2. Peru has an extreme poverty rate of 3.8 percent, which is defined as the inability to purchase a basket of basic food and beverages. However, this rate is only 0.7 percent in Lima, a lower number than the 1.2 percent prevalent in other urban areas of Peru.
  3. Lima’s slowing economic activity can be attributed to political turmoil. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who was elected in 2016, was succeeded by Martin Vizcarra in early 2018 amidst allegations of corruption. Big banks, such as JP Morgan, claim that this “political noise” has made it difficult for investors to trust businesses in the region.
  4. While malnutrition continues to be a problem in Peru, Lima combatting this occurrence through community kitchens. Such kitchens provide food to half a million people in Lima alone and is organized by the local effort of over 100,000 women. These kitchens are a big part of Peru’s efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition.
  5. Another fact about poverty in Lima is that there is a large income disparity, which has led to problems with access to clean water. While the rich have cheap water pumped into their homes, the poor pay almost ten times more for water to be delivered by lorries.
  6. Lima has to cope with heavy rainfall and floods due to its coastal location. These are often responsible for destroying most of the infrastructure, which was the case with the most recent flood — dubbed “coastal El Nino” — that inflicted $3.1 billion worth of damage. Lima, like many other coastal cities, had to share the burden, which was approximately 0.5 percent of Peru’s GDP in 2017. These natural disasters make it harder for residents to break out of the poverty cycle by capitalizing on infrastructure.
  7. Lima’s geography also poses as a restriction for city expansion. The city is a desert strip bounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Andes and three valleys. There is hence limited space available to build infrastructure and increase efficiency.
  8. Lima had a high employment rate of 93.4 percent in 2017. Of the employed population, however, 34.3 percent were still underemployed, suggesting that many did not have a job matching their skill level. Interestingly, Lima has experienced a 0.5 percent decrease in unemployment.
  9. Another important fact about poverty in Lima is that the divide between the rich and the poor has led to the rise of several squatter settlements, called “pueblos jovenes” (young towns) or “barriadas” (shantytowns). Currently, over 35 percent of Lima’s population lives in such squatter settlements.
  10. Despite many challenges, Lima’s residents are well-educated. About ninety-eight percent of the population older than 15 years are educated, of which 43 percent have higher education from post-secondary institutions.

Capital Progress

Although Peru itself faces several issues related to poverty, Lima has found ways to ameliorate the conditions and overcome difficulties. In the changing political and economic landscape of Lima, residents prove that there is both hope and a means to achieve such statuses. These 10 facts about poverty in Lima are but a testament to this city-wide occurrence.

– Sanjana Subramanian
Photo: Flickr

Indigenous Amazonian TribeThe Amazon rainforest is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, and protecting the rainforest is key to preserving the biodiversity of the planet. Because rainforests around the world lose an area the size of New Jersey every year, it is important to do everything possible to protect them. The Chaikuni Institute attempts to preserve the rainforest by teaching indigenous Amazonian tribes that live in the rainforest how to become advocates for the rainforest.

The Chaikuni Institute

The Chaikuni Institute was founded by the Temple of the Way of Light, a Peruvian shamanic healing center. Its goal is to help protect the culture of the indigenous Amazonian tribes that live in the rainforest and to help prevent the destruction of the rainforest. The Chaikuni Institute helps members of the tribes that live in the rainforest get an education, helps tribe members protect their lands from destruction and teaches people how to sustainably grow the medicinal plants that are used by the tribes.

The Chaikuni Institute creates films to highlight human rights abuses that native people living in the Amazon face, and the institute also helps natives decide what is important to their tribe’s development and helps the tribes get what they need.

Educating Members of Indigenous Amazonian Tribes

Without a proper education, foreigners could deceive tribal members, and they would not have the knowledge and skills needed to protect themselves from abuses and their tribal lands from misappropriation. The Chaikuni Institute works hard to remove the barriers to education so that anyone in the tribe can become educated if they choose to go to school and learn.

As a solution to the racism that tribal members face in schools, the Chaikuni Institute has proposed the creation of a school specifically made for tribal members so that tribal members can learn in an environment that is free of discrimination.

Protecting Amazonian Resources

In 2011, the Temple of the Way of Light founded Alianza Arkana, a Peruvian nonprofit organization that fights for environmental justice and human rights for the tribes that live in the Peruvian rainforest. Now operated independently, Alianza Arkana helps to improve the health of the people who live in the rainforest by improving access to sanitation and nutritional foods. The organization also helps to ensure that the knowledge held by the tribes that live in the rainforest is preserved so that it will not be lost.

The Chaikuni Institute is also helping members of the tribes that live in the rainforest fight against polluted water that resulted from oil spills, and the institute also teaches people who live in the rainforest fishing methods so that they can become financially independent.

The Chaikuni Institute and Alianza Arkana are good examples of corporate stewardship and should serve as an example to other businesses that decide to operate in an improvised area. By giving back to the environment and to the people that call that environment home, the Temple of the Way of Light is ensuring that the rainforest will survive and the medicinal plants that the tribes depend on will not be destroyed because of the deforestation of the rainforest.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Flickr

credit access in Peru
The access to bank accounts is not what first comes to mind when one thinks of privilege, but this issue is a major reality for numerous countries. Amongst these countries lies Peru and its amount of accessible bank accounts and credit access for the financial institutions in the country.


Lack of Bank Accounts

Despite Peru possessing the fastest-growing economy in their region, having a bank account is not a common occurrence amongst the population. This lack is due in part to the absence of information available to people about their bank accounts, as well as services of banks being severely limited. These instances contribute to a common theme among Peruvian banks that incites little incentive in the citizens of Peru to create accounts.


General Absence of Financial Literacy

The lack of financial literacy in the country is another problem with credit access in Peru. Many Peruvians don’t have savings in a bank of any kind, and only 40 percent of people know how to calculate annual interest rates. With little to no financial literacy, Peruvians have a hard time putting their trust into financial institutions, especially when those institutions aren’t forthcoming with information about accounts.


Banks Withhold Information

For the citizens that do have bank accounts, their financial situation is not much better than citizens who do not because the banks of Peru often conceal information from the public about their own accounts. These instances make it hard for citizens to put their trust into banks, as these institutions are the ones keeping private information that should be available to account-holders.


Credit Impacts to Lower Income Individuals and Communities

This is especially crippling for the lower-income citizens. Those citizens with less substantial income, and who put their trust in banks have a very hard time finding out what their account balance is. This could have a supremely negative effect on families that do not have much and cannot afford to overdraft their account and go into debt. They would not know when their account was low, and therefore never know if they overdraft the account until it is too late.

The lower-income communities are also the communities that are comprised of lower education rates, an instance which is directly correlated to the lack of financial literacy in the citizens of those same neighborhoods.



The Grupo Monge and Credit Access in Peru

Despite their lack of financial literacy, the Grupo Monge (GMG) works with the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL) to help people with no previous credit history become financially literate and create bank accounts within the financial institutions of Peru. These efforts have the potential to help almost 12 million citizens of Peru.

The GMG has helped create bank accounts for more than 3,000 citizens without credit access in Peru. This fiscal growth increased the Peruvian market for financial institutions and helped many citizens become more financially literate in securing and monitoring their finances. These changes will have a positive effect on the Peruvian economy because with more citizens contributing to the credit of the country, the nation should continue to grow as a result.

– Simone Williams

Photo: Wikimedia Commons