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memoirsThe problems in developing countries are often viewed as too big to find solutions. Because of this, many people are deterred from putting in seemingly futile efforts to alleviate a problem. But, they are more likely to join the fight when they learn the individual names and faces of those living under such conditions. These five memoirs about overcoming poverty highlight success stories and seek to mobilize people with a renewed sense of hope.

5 Memoirs About Overcoming Poverty

  1. Masaji Ishikawa recalls escaping from North Korea in “A River in Darkness.” With Japanese heritage from his mother and Korean from his father, he found himself caught between two worlds. When his father realized he could no longer tolerate the discrimination he faced in Japan, the family moved to North Korea. They arrived with the promise of paradise and found, simply put, quite the opposite. Ishikawa was only thirteen years old.In this memoir, he describes atrocious living conditions with graphic detail, unparalleled by any other nation in the world. The regime controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives, and Ishikawa tells readers that “the penalty for thinking was death.” More than any of the five memoirs about overcoming poverty, “A River in Darkness” highlights an ongoing crisis.Since North Korea remains untouched by the rest of the world, it’s difficult to extend support to those still living under the dictatorship. But Ishikawa’s story is one of many that prove North Koreans are waking up to the reality of their oppression. Gradually, more people are choosing to gain control over their destinies.
  2. When Jacqueline Novogratz donated a sweater to Goodwill, she never expected to encounter a young boy wearing it on the streets of Rwanda. It ended up being the namesake for her book entitled “The Blue Sweater.” She holds onto this memory as an important message of interconnectivity and the responsibility to help people in need.Her travels to various countries revealed economic injustice along with a lack of credit access for those with low incomes. This led her to help open the first bank in Rwanda available to women. Along with numerous other initiatives through The Acumen Fund, Novogratz learned that charity is fleeting compared to the sustainability of helping innovators launch businesses to benefit millions of people.
  3. Several reporters sought to overcome poverty by being a voice for untold stories in developing countries. Maya Ajmera, joined by co-authors Sarah Strunk and Olateju Omolodun, wrote “Extraordinary Girls” about what girlhood looks like across the world. Despite cultural differences, the authors work to prove that all girls can find common ground in the desire to make their dreams come true.Their book showcases girls such as Alexandra Nechita from Romania, an exceptional painter whose work was published in a collection by the age of eleven. Through this and many other success stories, the book’s purpose is to encourage girls to be active in their communities rather than feel as if their only option is to fulfill traditional gender roles.
  4. Katherine Boo sheds light on the ramshackle town of Annawadi in “Behind the Beautiful Forevers.”. This book illustrates how members of this community responded to India’s promise for renewed economic prosperity amid a global recession. A young man named Abdul discovered the value of reselling possessions thrown out by the wealthy. Others sought to change the course of politics by climbing the social ranks, like the Annawadi community member who became the first woman in that settlement to be a college graduate. These stories are about relying on pure grit to succeed in life when the economic system favors only the rich.
  5. The last of these five memoirs about overcoming poverty is “Teach a Woman to Fish” by Ritu Sharma. It’s a reinterpretation of the gendered language in this saying: “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” She argues that if women are taught the same thing, everyone will be fed too.Sharma helped found a business run by women in Honduras, giving them a chance to break free from the household sphere and gain financial independence. Other countries she visited include Sri Lanka, Nicaragua and Burkina Faso. In the book, readers can also find tips for shopping in ways that support female entrepreneurs and email templates if they feel inspired to speak with their members of Congress about this important cause.

All the authors in these five memoirs about overcoming poverty have discovered important lessons about global issues through real-life experiences. They write about them in the hopes that people will no longer be complacent in the face of a problem that, contrary to what some might believe, can be solved.

Sabrina Dubbert
Photo: Flickr

top ten facts about poverty in sierra leonePoverty has held a tight grip on Sierra Leone for as long as most people can remember. Sierra Leone remains one of the least developed low-income countries in the world. With a population of around six million people, the level of poverty is vast. The poverty status is well-known, although not many people know its extent or how it became this way. To clarify, here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Sierra Leone.

Key Facts About Poverty in Sierra Leone

  1. Sierra Leone’s social, economic and political unrest began around the time they gained independence from the British in 1961. This led to many economic and political challenges.
  2. In 1991, the state of Sierra Leone was devastated by extreme brutality when a civil war broke out as a result of a rebel group’s attempt to overthrow the government in power. Over 50,000 civilians were killed and an estimated two million were displaced.
  3. Since the end of the civil war in 2002, poverty alleviation has been a priority for the region; however, the level of poverty still remains high at its impact on 50-60 percent of the population.
  4. Most of Sierra Leone is rural communities with a few urban exceptions like the capitol, Freetown. Poverty levels in the rural areas have been gradually declining but remain relatively stagnant in the more urban communities.
  5. Sierra Leone has made considerable progress in the economy as a result of poverty alleviation efforts. The growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from 4.5 percent to 5.3 percent in 2010. It has been projected that the economy will grow 6 percent on average every year.
  6. The impoverished conditions are also not always the people’s fault. The region is prone to natural disasters, climate change and epidemics. Climate change alone can cause an annual loss between $600 million and one billion. It also leads to heightened pollution and the devastation of critical crops.
  7. Another one of the top ten facts about poverty in Sierra Leone is that it is heavily dependent on aid. An estimated 50 percent of public investment programs are being financed by foreign sources.
  8. The progress of poverty alleviation was halted by the Ebola outbreak of 2014. The outbreak ravaged the area and hit the economy with a decrease of almost 3 percent in average growth rate.
  9. USAID, since the civil war, has been aiding Sierra Leone specifically in gaining political stability and strengthening democratic governance. Maintaining stability will help ensure the proper development of the region as well as maintain peace and security.
  10. The educational completion levels are low in the region with more than half of the people over the age of fifteen having never attended school. In general, the access to public services such as education is very low.

Projected Progress

Sierra Leone, while being underdeveloped, is still a very young country. There is progress each year that will only continue from here. Many foreign aid agencies are invested in the progression of poverty alleviation in Sierra Leone and wish to assure peace and security.

– Samantha Harward
Photo: Flickr

What Comes After Poverty
Poverty is on the decline. Since 1990, total people affected by poverty fell more than ever before — as many as 137,000 people per day. This dramatic decrease is often due to increasing economic activity, but yet, as developing countries reap the benefits of increasing GDP, new challenges arise. The very industries that built a country up can create new issues. Management of these issues often decides a country’s future success.

For this reason, developing countries need to think about what comes after poverty.

An Emphasis on Education

With new industries available to its citizens, many countries turn towards education. An example of this push towards education is present in Thailand — as the country has developed, education among children increased to record levels. At the same time, Thailand has seen rapid improvement in its economy.

Countries with less rapid improvement also benefit as a result of increased education. In Nicaragua, trade schools play a fundamental part in the country’s future. Internships with resorts and agricultural training help young people develop in-demand skills. Since both tourism and agriculture are booming industries, this training makes sense and education acts as an important tool to help countries wondering what comes after poverty.

Advancements in Healthcare

Perfecting healthcare is an issue that several countries struggle with, regardless of income. For low-income countries, though, shortcomings in healthcare systems can be disastrous. These shortcomings are especially prevalent in countries that lack surgical workers. A low density of surgical works often brings a lack of available care and a lower life expectancy as a result.

In Cambodia, a low-middle classified income country, offering healthcare services is essential. Nonprofit-provided services like healthcare training and midwife education have helped care for thousands. These services, aimed to train healthcare professionals for the long-term, are vital. With a properly-trained healthcare workforce, both infant deaths and disease incidence decline.

A Need for Infrastructure

Infrastructure supports the increasing economic activity common of countries emerging from poverty. Everything from water access to adequate transportation helps a country increase its productivity. Countries without extensive infrastructure then, in fact, possess a barrier to overcoming poverty.

Rural populations that depend on extensive road systems are common in developing countries. Lack of infrastructure for conducting agricultural business leaves farmers without an income and for agriculturally-dependent countries, this could be dangerous.

In Indonesia, infrastructure is a key part of the country’s development. Development plans for the country outline specific actions for improvement; besides creating construction jobs, Indonesia’s infrastructure developments boost productivity. Yet, Indonesia also has faced obstacles in implementing infrastructure plans.

One obstacle — in this case, the government — can have a large influence on what comes after poverty for a country.

Improvements in Government

Being able to pass effective legislation is necessary for any country, and governmental issues affect many developing countries. In Indonesia, the issue is a problem of decentralization of control, while in other countries, government issues slow progress in a variety of ways.

Political instability in South Africa caused recent economic growth to slow, and some negative side effects of this decrease have been the rise of both unemployment and poverty rates. A government will never be perfect; but without basic protection for citizens, economic productivity is difficult. Due to this dependency, keeping government stability is vital to a country’s future.

What Comes After Poverty?

Having a plan for what comes after poverty is vital to the success of developing countries and although it can be difficult, it is worth the effort. Whether through education, healthcare, infrastructure or government, continued improvement is possible.

With planning, countries can do more than survive in the global economy: they can thrive in it.

– Robert Stephen

Photo: Flickr

SDGs 2030: Will The Governments Of Developing Countries Deliver?Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs in developing countries have been viewed as ambitious. However, more efforts have been invested in the continuous realization of these development goals by international communities, nonprofit organizations, civil societies and, of course, domestic governments.

SDGs and Developing Countries

According to reports, to achieve one of the SDG targets, the “sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” will cost $27 billion per year by 2030 and the infrastructure will cost up to $290 billion. Is this too ambiguous for the national governments in the developing world? Or a pitiable reason to hide from actualizing these goals nationally.

Developing countries have been a major focus of the SDGs. With the idea that ‘no one will be left behind’, the U.N. and its partners have contributed immensely in solving a long list of issues faced by the developing world. Funds have been deposited and used for different projects. Expertise in creating sustainable solutions and commitments are being made to secure a better future. 

SDG Index

The SDG performance by countries is determined by the SDG Index and Dashboard on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest level of performance and 100 is the highest level of performance. Countries like Sweden (84.5), Denmark (83.9), Norway (82.3) and Finland (81) rank high in achieving their SDGs.

Countries such as the Central African Republic (26.1), Liberia (30.5) and Niger (31.4) are not doing as well as the aforementioned countries. Evidently, these countries are some of the poorest in the world. A poor economy can be one of the causes for weak results.

Politics and SDGs in Developing Countries

One of the reasons slowing down the SDGs in developing countries is that development projects are usually abandoned by their governments. This normally happens in rival socio-political settings.

In Africa, most projects funded and managed by previous administrations are eventually stopped or replaced by the ruling administrations due to different political views, political parties or general lack of interest.

Some farmers in Nigeria have criticized the replacement of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme by the former president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration with the current president Muhammadu Buhari’s Agricultural Implements and Mechanisation Services (AIMS).

“There is always a policy somersault. This government will bring this one and when another person comes, they will bring another one whether it is good or not.”, said Daniel Okafor, Vice President of Root and Tubers of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).

The farmers are upset with their government as it continues to create new programs without improving the old ones. More often, the development policies and programs are often aligned with the vision of developmental goals but may lack seriousness due to the ulterior motives.

In developing countries, parties struggle to own power and when they eventually do gain power, eliminating the projects of the previous administration becomes the primary goal.

The lack of bipartisanship in the polity environment brews enough hatred; shutting down any programs related to the opposition party no matter how promising they are.

Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the U.N. noted that bipartisanship can promote peace, unity and growth. Political parties should stand for a common goal regardless of their political views and hustle for power. Ideas can be shared and implemented with the help of the other parties.

Bipartisanship will ease congressional processes in changing, debating and making laws which can benefit the realization of SDGs.

Corruption and SDGs in Developing Countries

Corruption can also cause a lot of setback. Africa loses $50 billion every year due to corruption. The Sustainable Development Goal 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, covers commitments to fight corruption and encourage transparency.

Corruption impedes national development, hinders economic growth, slows or shutdown developmental programs on education, labor, healthcare, water and sanitation and leads to more poverty.

Recently, the U.K. suspended funding to Zambia after a report that $4.3 million intended for the poor population had gone missing. 17 million people in Zambia, or half of its population, live below $1.90 a day. It is important to find out how much of the monetary aid is really getting lost to corruption and the best method to curb it.

Criminalization of corruption can serve as a major tool in curbing corruption. Ruling parties must not protect corrupt public servants, especially in Africa where previous corrupt officers collude with the ruling parties in order to be shielded from scrutiny and court cases.

Governments must encourage transparency and promote access to national financial data and budget spending.

SDGs and Subnational Conflicts

Another factor that may impede the success of SDGs in developing countries is tribal or subnational conflicts which are still rampant in Africa and Asia.

While Asia experiences economic growth in the midst of subnational conflicts, Africa’s economy has always been affected by violent conflicts due to terrorist groups, tribal wars and minorities unrest.

Poverty will decrease when inequalities between different groups reduce as also when there are inclusive growth and participation of minorities in resource control. Combating unemployment will also lessen the high rate of conflicts in developing countries.

Conclusion

Domestic policies in the areas of trade, human development, agriculture, economy and climate change can reduce poverty and hunger, improve health systems, create resilient methods toward climate shocks and breed peace in societies.

It is for the central, state and local governments to take up these responsibilities to achieve the SDGs in developing countries. Civil Societies and private sectors should also see this as an opportunity to make the world a better place.

It is possible for developing countries to achieve at least 80 percent of their SDGs: it all depends on good governance and passion for humanity.

Photo: Flickr


Healthcare programs often dismiss the importance of pediatric surgery in the developing world. Access to surgeons is treated as a superfluous medical resource rather than a necessity and therefore becomes extremely limited. The only pediatric surgeons in Kenya are located in Nairobi, making them difficult for most Kenyans to visit. In actuality, the demand for surgery among children in developing nations is strikingly high and the shortage of surgical care has extremely detrimental consequences.

In sub-Saharan health clinics, up to 11 percent of all child patients are in need of surgery. Of these children requiring surgery, nearly 90 percent are admitted with issues easily corrected by surgery such as congenital anomalies and injuries. Unfortunately, many children cannot obtain the surgical care they need. Even in urban communities with more convenient access to healthcare, approximately 217 out of 100,000 people die due to injuries, which could be corrected via surgery. By the age of 15, there is an 85 percent chance that children in Sub-Saharan Africa will experience a condition requiring surgery; without surgical attention, children can develop lifelong disabilities.

In impoverished countries that experience war and conflict, the chance of childhood injury is even higher. Children are often injured by stray bullets and explosives, and are even sometimes coerced into fighting. The Central African Republic experienced many child casualties during its most recent conflict (2012-2014), which put significant strain on its subpar healthcare system.

Even prior to the conflict, the Central African Republic had the sixth highest mortality rate of children under the age of five. Bangui Pediatric Hospital was overwhelmed by the influx of child patients during the war, but the U.N. supplied surgical kits and other medical supplies to temporarily rectify the void of surgical care.

Many other aid organizations are working to make pediatric surgical care more accessible in the developing world. The Global Pediatric Surgery Network has volunteer surgeons at work in various parts of the world, including Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Pacific Association of Pediatric Surgeons teaches surgical skills to general practitioners in impoverished countries in order to create more permanent solutions to the inadequacy of pediatric surgery in the developing world.

The most common issues faced by volunteer pediatric surgeons in developing countries are financial constraints, inadequate healthcare facilities, insufficient infrastructure and geographically isolated populations. Fixing these problems is tantamount to improving surgical care for children in the developing world. Correcting surgical conditions in childhood increases a person’s quality of life, which strongly illustrates how surgery is such a necessary component of a complete healthcare system.

– Mary Efird

Photo: Flickr

facts about costa rica slums

With nearly 21 percent of Costa Rica’s population lived below the poverty line in 2016. In a July 2017 report, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency reported that Costa Rica’s population was at 4,930,258 and over one million Costa Ricans currently live in poverty. The following 10 facts about Costa Rica slums focus on two of its major slums: Triángulo de Solidaridad and La Carpio. These 10 facts about Costa Rica slums also touch on the appearance of residents’ homes and the government’s role in their maintenance.

 

10 Facts about Costa Rica Slums

  1. Triángulo de la Solidaridad, one of the capital’s best-known slums, is now a tourist attraction. Slum residents guide visitors and Costa Ricans through the slum in order to provide them with a new perspective on the country’s consistently high poverty rate.
  2. Roughly 2,000 people— more than 520 families— live in Triángulo de la Solidaridad.
  3. Triángulo de Solidaridad is located off Route 32, just north of downtown San José. Residents must cross the highway daily as they walk to and from work.
  4. Costa Rican slums appear colorful because their improvised homes are made of tin, wood and other scrap materials.
  5. Triángulo de la Solidaridad, because it is located along the highway, conflicts with Circunvalación Norte— a project that expands the belt route connecting eastern and western sectors of San José. The Housing Ministry must notify and relocate families who live in the community.
  6. La Carpio is one of Costa Rica’s least known slums, but it may very well be one of the worst. The slum is a remote section of San José located between two polluted rivers and the city’s landfill. Over 30,000 residents are packed into La Carpio.
  7. La Carpio and Triángulo de la Solidaridad were both founded by Nicaraguan refugees. The majority of their residents are undocumented immigrants who are often ignored by the Costa Rican government.
  8. Over the past 20 years, La Carpio has established schools and a medical clinic, water and sewage connections, cement floors and paved roads.
  9. A few students from La Carpio are set to graduate from high school and attend university— a milestone for the community.
  10. La Carpio residents can either walk across a bridge or take a bus to get to work. The bridge is a rickety suspension foot-bridge that stretches across the Rio Torres, but residents still opt for this dangerous route to save the 45 cents bus fare.

As evident in the preceding 10 facts about Costa Rica slums, slums may become tourist attractions that offer visitors a new perspective on living below the poverty threshold. Tourists that are exposed to poverty may seek further education on the subject in an attempt to eradicate it.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr


The Internet and other advances in communication technology have helped make the spreading of globalization even quicker. For developing countries, access to technology can have many benefits —  one such improvement being the boost of a nation’s economy. Other ways that technology is helping economies in developing countries is by reducing the costs of production, encouraging growth of new business and advancing communication.

An issue that developing countries must bypass is prioritizing technology innovation, not just adapting to technology. Another issue is that the distribution of technology needs to be equal across a country; so far the poor have not been able to have the same amount of access to technology. It is important for organizations to monitor technology and to encourage innovations and job creation in order to solve these issues.

One organization that works to do just that is Broadband for Good, a group that gives internet access to rural areas and encourages programs to utilize the technology in creating progress in communities.

When technology is used correctly it can be extremely helpful in furthering the prosperity of economies. One such example of technology creating a positive impact to the economy is in regard to India — the Self-Employed Women’s Association uses SMS to send agricultural workers messages about commodity prices. This information helps farmers determine best places to sell their produce. Farmers who participated in this program have said that they have been able to sell their products over wider areas, which has increased their incomes.

Another example, also in India, is the Hand in Hand Partnership (HIHP). The HIHP is an organization that provides women with mobile devices so that they can launch their own tech-driven businesses. The HIHP helps train and provide technical support for these women. By encouraging women to innovate ideas instead of just giving them technology, HIHP is helping to better the economy in a sustainable and long-term way.

Other countries successful in creating businesses are Nigeria, Egypt and Indonesia. Thirty eight percent of these countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) was generated by micro-entrepreneurs. In a 2011 World Bank report, figures showed that small businesses like these create new jobs and generate new ideas — both of which are great for helping economies.

Deanna Wetmore

Photo: Flickr

Education in TibetSince the seventeen-point agreement was signed for the incorporation of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China in 1951, achievements have taken place in Tibet over the past 65 years. The illiteracy rate in Tibet was reduced from a staggering 95 percent in the 1950s to 42 percent in 2000. This is according to the latest statistical data from the Department of Education in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Education of ethnic Tibetans are subsidized by the central government in People’s Republic of China. In the Tibet Autonomous Region, compulsory education in primary and secondary schools are executed in which the average educational period for individuals is 8.6 years, while preferential policies encourages young Tibetans to seek higher and more advanced education in and out of the autonomous region.

The distinguished achievements of education in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China comprises of several aspects. Kindergarten and preliminary schools are fast developing where the attendance of kids aged three to six had reached 52 percent until the end of 2013. Besides the great results from compulsory education in Tibet, education in high schools has been expanding and the scales of schools are continuously enlarging. The fast-development of high school education in Tibet are highly reliable on scientific planning, rational mapping, and have an active construction of education funds and reasonable allocations of teaching resources.

The autonomous regional government in Tibet also takes high concerns on sharing equal opportunities to children with disabilities, where schools with special support are given priority to these kids. In addition, the policy of covering all expenses on study and accommodations for children of herdsmen in Tibet are gradually improving while related treatments are continuously being enhanced since 1985.

However, despite the brilliant accomplishment of educational development in Tibet, due to various external difficulties and constraints, some apparent problems and barriers still exist and can be enumerated as follows:

First, the natural conditions in Tibet are harsh and this results into higher educational costs. Tibet is located in the roof of the world, with wide areas and sparse populations. It lacks oxygen in the plateau where climate varies drastically with vast temperature differences between day and night. The construction and operational costs of schools are relatively high, as the budgets for schools in rural and pastoral areas are three to five times higher than the schools in the Mainland.

Second, the economic foundation and industrial development in Tibet are quite poor. Due to the smaller levels of revenue and resources, there is generally a gap in financial and social progress in Tibet. It is quite difficult for the majority of herdsmen in Tibet to increase their incomes. Hence, with respect to such kind of fiscal status, it would be difficult for Tibet itself to allocate sufficient funds to develop education.

In some areas of Tibet, the education concepts have placed constraints on the consolidation of development on compulsory education. There is also insufficient capacity of senior high school education which is becoming more and more prominent, and this will come back to have an impact on the future popularization, consolidation, and improvement of compulsory education in Tibet.

The third issue is related on the structural defects of training students in advanced education. It is rather hard to accumulate a large number of highly educated personnel in Tibet as for most areas, attracting and retaining talented professionals of all kinds are everlasting problems. This leads to an overall scarcity of high-end talents. Furthermore, the existing problems such as equality and quality of education, welfare towards poor families, and efficiency of education in Tibet also requires intensive attention.

In early 2017, more than ten policy files were signed in Tibet on accelerating the reform and development of education in the Tibet autonomous region. These official documents clarified the tasks, policies and measures for the specific tasks on Tibet’s education progress in the 13th Five-Year Plan. Complementary education in addition to college enrolment will be prioritized for recorded poor families in Tibet. It is expected that penetration of bilingual education, as well as math and science curriculums with experimental classes will achieve 100 percent coverage in the compulsory teaching system. Technical schools in Tibet will also have to reach that goal. The five-year development plan aims to promote the healthy and rapid growth of education in Tibet.

Coming through the bottleneck and weaknesses of development, education in Tibet is improving in the current decade. Students of the next generation in Tibet are embracing a brand-new future.

– Xin Gao

Photo: Flickr
                                                       

Women's entrepreneurship in developing nationsInvesting in women and girls is a promising way to develop a global economy. One way to do that is via women’s entrepreneurship in developing nations.  A thriving and successful economy and an enlarged consumer base are just some of the benefits of increased female membership in business and leadership positions. Developing nations stand to face the most benefits from the inclusion of women in the business world.

“Women’s economic participation and their ownership and control of productive assets speeds up development, helps overcome poverty, reduces inequalities and improves children’s nutrition, health, and school attendance”, reports the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Women are more likely to devote more of their earnings back into their families and communities than their male counterparts, feeding money back into their local communities.

An example of this is with seaweed farming. Women dominate the seaweed farming industry in several developing nations. A study focusing on Africa, India, and South-East Asia found that women made up roughly 90 percent of seaweed farmers in Tanzania, representing leadership opportunities and a significant trade for women. Economic contributions from seaweed farming were observed improving the quality of life for families involved in the farming business, according to the report.

The “seaweed women” made important advances in the sustainability of the farming practice but the women also demonstrate dedication and patience as described by their male coworkers during the farming process. Community members also benefit from the local seaweed industry, the report claims.

A similar study finds that female farmer-entrepreneurs in Ghana have contributed to local poverty reduction. While the study did not directly report on the residual benefits, “It is reasonable to infer that improvements in entrepreneurial ventures lead to the creation of more jobs, which improves the local economy,” the report concedes.

Thailand, The Philippines, Botswana, Costa Rica, South Africa, Peru, Malaysia, Colombia, Romania and China are among some of the lower-middle and low-income economies scoring high on Mastercard’s Index of Women Entrepreneurs. Furthermore, despite unfavorable entrepreneurial conditions, women in Bangladesh, Uganda, Mexico and Vietnam are resolute and establishing successful businesses.

Though there are many success stories, increasing women’s access to financial services and easier accruement of credit would facilitate benefits intrinsic to women’s entrepreneurship in developing nations. Experts claim that women are an untapped resource essential to global economic growth and development.

The OECD argues that the inclusion of women’s voices in politics are essential to mitigate gender disparities and commence national benefits for nations collectively. Featuring more women’s entrepreneurship in developing nations also contributes to emerging markets and increases global trading partners. Advocating for women in more business positions is in the best interest of everyone. In the words of the all-wise Spice Girls, girl power.

– Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

The Future of Infrastructure in CubaCuba has always been a land of intrigue. The communist island nation in the Caribbean is at the same time considered to be a tropical paradise and an inaccessible third-world nation with high poverty. Infrastructure in Cuba is infamous for its state of decay and disrepair.

In 1810, Cuba’s capital, Havana, had the same number of residents as New York City and nearly three times the population of Boston. It is home to countless historical colonial buildings as well as Soviet-style architecture built after Fidel Castro took power. In general, many of the buildings, historic or contemporary, are not well-maintained.

One of the constant threats to infrastructure in Cuba is natural disasters, especially hurricanes. Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, devastated Cuba in September. The damage caused by the storm was compounded by the structural unsoundness of many of the buildings in Cuba. Of the 10 fatalities from the storm, seven were in Havana and were caused by unsafe buildings collapsing. Some people have continued living in parts of these buildings even after the storm.

Irma left longer-lasting damage as well. Millions of people were left without power and thousands of hectares of sugarcane, a major Cuban crop, were destroyed.

Tourism has always been a huge part of the Cuban economy, but increased tourism has put a strain on infrastructure in Cuba. The Obama administration eased travel restrictions on U.S. citizens visiting Cuba so that one can now visit the country individually, as opposed to doing so with a tour group. However, both the United States and Cuban governments, as well as the tourism industry, have expressed concerns about the ability of the infrastructure in Cuba to accommodate a large influx of tourists.

There is no doubt that the infrastructure in Cuba needs a major overhaul, but there are some positive points. The easing of restrictions on Cuba during the previous administration indicates a future of increased foreign tourism and business, and the Cuban government has acknowledged this reality.

Ultimately, lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba would be a positive step, as it prevents the country from joining the IMF and scares away major U.S. banks from doing business in Cuba. It will require major foreign investments for Cuba’s economy to right itself, which in turn will lead to better infrastructure.  

The future of the country and infrastructure in Cuba are still in question, but there is no doubt that there is a desire for a bigger foreign presence in Cuba, and with it, major changes. Cuba, once a leader in infrastructure, has good reason to build itself up.

– Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr