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Wall Street
Does making millions really help the world’s poor? Many Wall Street employees who earn more than the average worker are making the argument that it is more important and worthwhile to make a lot of money first to be able to donate a lot of money later. These people point to billionaire do-gooders like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg to prove that those who give the most are those who have the most to give.

At first it seems logical that Wall Street could end global poverty. Take a simple scenario of a Wall Street employee. If that person earns hundreds of millions of dollars per year, for example, they could choose to donate all but a few million to charities that help alleviate global poverty. They and their family would still be able to live a very luxurious lifestyle, and millions of people around the world would reap enormous benefits from all the donated money. Now, imagine if every millionaire and billionaire did the same thing. It would make a huge difference. But the important question to ask is will Wall Street end global poverty with employee earnings?

John Paulson, a hedge fund manager, earned $5 billion in 2010. While he did donate a portion of that money to charity,  most of the money went to organizations that were less about social change. Paulson’s largest donations went to a business school in New York ($20 million) and the Central Park Conservancy ($100 million). Those donations aren’t bad, since giving any money to any charity is certainly commendable, but that $120 million may have gone further if it had gone to help starving children or provide clean drinking water to the poorest areas of the world.

Paulson certainly isn’t the only person to do this, since many people (billionaires and everyday employees) choose to give money to charities that are closest to them personally. Whether it’s the college from which they graduated, an animal shelter, or even a videogame organization, many people feel compelled to give back to charities or organizations that helped them, and may not consider the fact that there could be better uses for their money. So while it’s certainly not a bad thing for Wall Street millionaires and billionaires to donate to charities that touch their personal lives, in order to benefit the most number of people in the most significant ways, it could be wiser to donate to a charity that focuses on saving lives.

Katie Brockman
Source: New York Magazine
Photo: American Security Project

Bill-Gates
Earlier this month, Bill Gates offered his opinions regarding the Obama Administration’s reform to the federal government’s food aid program. The administration’s plan is to purchase local food and use it for emergency assistance rather than buy food from the US and ship it over. Although he did not provide a clear response expressing his support, it is safe to assume that Gates does agree with the proposal because he did express the necessity to reform foreign aid programs.

In regards to the administration’s proposal to reform the Food for Peace program, Gates expressed that agricultural issues are extremely important because responding to them impacts lives. He also expressed the effectiveness of cash-based aid which is not only “less disruptive to emerging economies,” but can also respond to needs faster. When it comes to food issues, such as hunger/starvation, receiving the food late can cause significant damage to children. Gates asserts that cash-based aid sustains markets to buy locally, and it makes it easier for aid to halt once it is no longer needed.

When asked about his involvement with AGRA, the Africa Green Revolution Association, and their goals, Gates said that the association, led by Kofi Annan, helps with forming appropriate agricultural policies. In regards to Africa, different soil conditions can impose problems on crops and growth; and thus, AGRA focuses agricultural policies on soil quality and improve understanding of soil nutrients. There’s also a focus on a seed program because varieties of crops are important when it comes to nutrition and meeting economic goals. Some African countries tried to put regulatory barriers on seed variety in hopes of monopolizing production, and so, the implementation of a seed program seems necessary for further development.

– Leen Abdallah
Source: AG Web
Photo: Google

bill_gates_fingers_food_aid_international_aid_humanitarian_philanthropist_usaid_foreign_asisstance_usaid_opt

Bill Gates has long been known for his wealth and his philanthropy within the US, but many may not know of his support for Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and foreign aid in general. Gates was asked about foreign aid reform after attending the recent world hunger briefing.

When asked to comment on the Obama Administration’s changing food aid reforms, Gates replied that his foundation (The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) “puts lots of money into these agricultural issues” because they are highly impactful. He goes on to say that the biggest attack on foreign aid tends to be the fact that foreign aid is often not efficiently used, and that it’s most important to take any opportunity that comes along to improve the efficiency of our foreign aid processes.

“The thing that’s really understated in terms of having some portion (of aid) move to a cash-based approach,” says Gates, “is not just the effectiveness in terms of dollars per person served. But when you are dealing with acute food issues, getting the food there late is extremely damaging to young children.” Without proper nutrition, brain development is slowed permanently and any investment in further education will not be used to its full potential.

Cash based aid also negates the damage that can be done by farmers bringing new quantities of food goods into their markets that already have set stable pricing. As Gates explained, “if farmers come back in and try to sell at market prices, you are actually doing damage to those markets. And it’s always a very tough thing, but if you have a 50-week lead time (for food aid delivery), it’s very hard to tune these things to not actually damage some of these markets”.

While the Obama administration is currently working toward localized food aid in the form of supplies itself, it seems that perhaps cash-based aid would be a more efficient and less disruptive form of aid. With influential members of society like Gates and others rallying behind this type of aid, it may become the dominant form of foreign aid coming from US policy.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: AG Web
Photo: Snippits

sara_blakely_giving_pledge_spanx_founder_billionaire_donation_fund_international_Aid_charity_gates_foundation_opt
Sara Blakely joins the Giving Pledge by donating half of her fortune. In doing so, Blakely, the inventor of Spanx, becomes the first female billionaire to pledge. The Gates Foundation also signed seven new additional billionaires along with Blakely.

Blakely said that Bill and Melinda Gates encouraged her to join and took her out to dinner to discuss their foundation.

Blakely has used her success to focus on helping girls and women. Recently, she donated $100,000 to The Empowerment Plan,a campaign in Detroit that helps to create jobs for homeless women by paying them to produce sleeping-bag coats for other people sleeping on the streets.

The eight other new Giving Pledge signatories include hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, real estate investor and Miami Dolphins majority owner Stephen Ross, telecoms guru Craig McCaw and wife Susan, coal mining mogul Joe Craft, British politician Lord Ashcroft, Sequoia Capital’s Mark Stevens and wife Mary, Koret Foundation head Ted Taube, and textile tycoon Samuel Yin.

– Essee Oruma
Source: Global Post
Photo: ABC News

Bill Gates Agriculture
At the International Agriculture and Food Security Briefing, Bill Gates stated that if we want to succeed in ending world poverty, we have to invest in agriculture. Gates explains that “of all the interventions to reduce poverty, improving agricultural productivity is the best.”

Gates explains how during the green revolution there was a huge increase in productivity. There was a movement that encouraged farming and an increase in agriculture around the world. But he also says that Africa didn’t see any noticeable results from the green revolution because of the diverse ecosystems. If we can increase productivity in the poorest regions, where many people are farmers, we can see amazing results in the forms of more income, better health, and high percentages of children going to school.

“All the other different economic activity—yes it trickles down. But nothing as efficiently as in agriculture,” says Gates.

During his speech, he also claimed that agricultural research is important to make sure farmers are getting the resources they need to produce more. And while in the past the United States played a large role in doing research and providing food aid, in recent years the amount of research has remained stagnant, which contributes to the problem.

Gates also explained that one factor that is especially important to bettering the world through agriculture is dedication. He and his wife visited Tanzania to see first-hand how the US’s dedication is helping small-holder farms. He had met with a woman whose income doubled because of the support provided by the US and was a perfect example of how we have the ability to drastically improve lives. Seeing the changes can encourage everyone to continue to contribute and do what they can to help struggling farmers.

Katie Brockman
Source: AG Web

Business Leaders
When it comes to deciding how and where to spend money, business leaders can give some of the best advice. Their experience in the business world can also help when it comes to determining if the U.S. should increase foreign aid to decrease global poverty. Here are 5 quotes ans kernels of wisdom about global poverty from some of the most significant business leaders.

1. “Looking at these issues as a businessman, I believe that investing in the world’s poorest people is the smartest way our government spends money.”
Bill Gates, Former CEO and Chairman of Microsoft, Co-Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

2. “…It’s nonsense to think we can balance the budget by ‘ending foreign aid.’ In fact, the International Affairs budget is just over one percent of the federal budget. The Chamber supports a robust International Affairs budget for the State Department and other agencies. It funds critical efforts to boost exports and jobs, protect our national security, and promote our humanitarian values.”
Thomas J. Donahue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

3. “The world is getting to be a smaller place every day, and from an economic perspective, what happens in one country has ripple effects throughout the world. Funding from the International Affairs Budget, which is just 1 percent of the federal budget, helps to strengthen the economies of developing nations around the world.”
Chris Policinski, CEO of Land O’Lakes

4. “As a business person, I understand the value of an investment – and the importance of getting a good return on your dollar. And that’s what we get when we fund our diplomatic efforts and international programs. Yes, it means needed humanitarian relief. Yes, it means more security for the American people in these troubled times. But from years of our company’s experience, it also means jobs right here at home.”
James W. Owens, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar

5. “Given the fact that MDBs focus more on middle- and low-income countries and not the United States, the temptation of some might be to cut back on our contributions and to refocus those resources elsewhere. And yet such a decision would be extremely short-sighted, in my judgment, because it would negatively impact job creation at the very time when we’re trying to rebuild our economy.”
– Robert Mosbacher Jr., Chairman of Mosbacher Energy Company, Past-President and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Katie Brockman

Source: U.S. Global Leadership Coalition
Photo: Marketplace Leaders

 

Read Global Poverty and Humanitarian quotes.

 

Open-Data-Kit-Nafundi

As Bill Gates discussed in his 2013 letter, data collection and maintenance is an important aspect in running nonprofit organizations in developing countries. This is especially important when it comes to using that data to help make better decisions and analyze trends and successes. Gates encourages a focus on training staff members, clinicians, and volunteers on how to meticulously keep such records.

Open Data Kits, or ODK, was started as a google.org project in 2008. ODK is an enormous mobile, web, and cloud based resource that simplifies and organizes data collection through various tools and applications. With interns and researchers from the University of Washington’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the project grew into a full scale organization with multiple members, companies, developers, and users.

Two of the interns, Yaw Anokwa and Carl Hartung, started their own company, Nafundi, that extends these services to individual clinics, companies, or other nonprofits that work in developing countries. Not only does Nafundi provide these services and the mobile devices to use them, they spend a significant time training users so that they can handle any issues and gain a deep understanding of what is going on with all their data.

For example, a health clinic in rural Kenya needs to record the number of patients, their illnesses, drugs prescribed, and follow-ups. After collecting all this information, there needs to be a safe way to store this information; safe from natural distress, purposeful destruction, or faulty handling from staff. Users can create forms and surveys, including images, audio recordings, videos, and most importantly mapping locations. This data is then aggregated and can be illustrated as graphs and maps, showing specific locations where there is a decline or increase in a disease.

While the initial cost of the technology to use ODK may be expensive, looking into the future cost-benefit analysis, detailed visuals of successes or failures of a clinic’s or organization’s efforts will better help them decide how to move forward. These final products could also greatly affect the willingness and understanding of donors to see how their money is being put to use.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: opendatakit.org
Source: nafundi.com

Bill_Gates_Foundation_Foreign_Aid
US foreign aid has recently been thrown into the debate of where to cut government spending. Many Members of Congress have expressed doubt as to the effectiveness of foreign aid and the United States’ responsibility of providing foreign aid to third world countries. In his annual letter, Bill Gates wrote a response to these many concerns asserting that foreign aid works and the United States should continue funding this vital program.

Bill Gates begins his argument by addressing concerns that foreign aid is ineffective and only goes into the hands of the corrupt. By using the example of an organization he supports, GAVI Alliance, Gates is able to explain the specifics of foreign aid in a way that is often ignored. GAVI uses all of the donations it receives to provide vaccines to developing countries. Gates reiterates that the organization does not send cash to these countries, only vaccines. This is one way nonprofits and USAid can bypass possible corrupt political leaders.

Another way GAVI ensures its funds are not wasted is by only operating in countries that have provided evidence of a strong enough immunization system to administer the vaccines to a majority of children. These countries are required also to pay a percentage of the cost of the vaccines. Gates reminds us that China was once a recipient of such aid and now pays the full amount for vaccines. He also stresses how methods for measuring accountability and effectiveness have greatly increased and countries failing to meet certain criteria no longer receive assistance.

Not only are assistance organizations addressing corruption and government accountability, but studies have also shown these organizations to be achieving their goal of reducing global poverty and hunger. GAVI has contributed to the decrease in children dying each year (down by one quarter) by providing 370 million children with vaccinations. That means 2.4 million children’s lives have been saved in about thirteen years, since GAVI was created in 2000.

Gates acknowledges that there is still some corruption when dealing with foreign aid, but that does not mean the US should stop sending assistance. Foreign aid is working, and eventually recipient countries will build their economies to the point where they no longer require aid. The implications of such development mean a larger market for US products and a more secure world, not to mention drastically better living standards for formerly impoverished people.

Bill Gates calls for US politicians to be the moral leaders of the world. Such actions will not only ensure international respect, but also international influence. He urges the US to follow the example of Britain and other countries devoted to foreign aid and continue funding for foreign assistance programs.

-Mary Penn
Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Gates Foundation

Bono-factivism-TED-poverty
During the 2013 TED Conference in Long Beach, CA, U2 lead singer and anti-poverty activist Bono spoke about successes in the fight against global poverty and made predictions for the future.

Bono, founder of the anti-poverty organization One and long-time ally of the world’s poor, stated that he will temporarily retire from being a rock star to become a “factivist” – one who uses facts and evidence to support activist causes. The facts are, in this case, statistics on declining global poverty rates. Bono advocates factivism as just one way that we can all work to help end global poverty.

A few of the most encouraging statistics:

– 7,256 fewer children under the age of five are dying each day.

-The number of people living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.25 per day) has fallen from 43 percent  in 1990 to 21 percent in 2010.

If poverty continues to decline at the same rate, extreme poverty will be eliminated by the year 2030. However, the smaller the number gets, the more difficult it will be to reach the target of zero people living in extreme poverty.

Bono’s factivism could not come at a better time, as the efforts of those who support anti-poverty organizations, legislation, and foreign aid are clearly paying off. Significant progress has been made in the fight against extreme poverty around the world.

However, as Bono stated, there is still work to do. The decline in global poverty rates does not mean that anti-poverty activism is, or should be, coming to an end. Rather, the successes that have been achieved over the last decade are strong motivation to work even harder to end poverty for every person.

Bono listed three ways that we can work to make poverty rates continue to decline over the next decade. The first is to actively fight government efforts to cut funding to anti-poverty organizations. Second, we should continue to support technological advances that improve quality of life for the poorest people. And lastly, Bono urges us to fight corruption using social media networking and demand transparency in action from those in power.

To learn more poverty statistics, check out Good News in the War on Poverty. To become a factivist for the world’s poor, find out How to Get Involved in the Cause. Bono advocates factivism, and so does the Borgen Project!

Kat Henrichs
Sources: Guardian, LA Times
Photo: Twitter

Trendalyzer
Since stepping down from his leadership role at Microsoft in 2008, Bill Gates has been writing an annual public letter on global issues as well as the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the 2013 letter, Gates focuses on the issue of measuring development. Measuring progress would allow for a coherent assessment of the effectiveness of the efforts.

Gates’ letter proposes that philanthropy and government programs have to turn towards the business model example. This model emphasises clear evaluation on profit in order to measure their rate of progress towards their goals. Gates refers to the quantification of the decrease in child mortality rates in Ethiopia as an example of setting an explicit and measurable goal.

Along with Gates’ letter, Hans Rosling, Swedish academic and developer of the Trendalyzer, produced a video for the release of the letter. In the video, Rosling discusses why the world can no longer be simply divided into two poles of developed countries and developing countries.

Rosling’s study of the number of children per family and mortality rates explains the rapid development that has occurred in the world within the past 50 years. According to this model, a large number of developing countries have moved into the section of the developed countries.

Through measuring these global trends, we can better understand the development of the world.

– Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana

Source: WSJ
Photo: Flickr