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VenezuelaThe South American country of Venezuela was once one of the most successful oil industries in the world, with a thriving economy. After oil prices dropped drastically in the 1980s, Venezuela has been searching for ways to recover their largest money-maker and restore their crippling economy.

China and Venezuela have been working together for over 15 years as part of the Mixed China-Venezuela High Commission. They are energy-supply partners that have signed 480 agreements together since 2001. As Venezuela has continued struggling economically, China has contributed efforts to help save the country’s economy. There are five development projects in Venezuela underway to do just that:

  1. China and Venezuela have signed a total of 22 new deals worth 2.7 billion U.S. dollars in order to stimulate economic development in Venezuela and strengthen their partnership. This development will include infrastructure, import and cargo transport projects. Six of the 22 agreements are focused on energy output and the oil industry.
  2. China has agreed to assist in the supply and export of Venezuela’s oil production. China will build a refinery in southeast China’s Guangdong Province, Nanhai which will process around 400,000 barrels of extra-heavy crude oil from Venezuela’s land. The mission of this project is to increase the amount of oil output and exports.
  3. Venezuela spent 9,576 million on imports in 2015. China and Venezuela have begun to build an industrial plant in Anaco, Venezuela whose purpose will be to produce seeds, fertilizers and agrochemicals that are normally imported to help reduce the amount of money spent on imports.
  4. China is also a major investor in Venezuela’s new food supply distribution network Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP). Venezuela’s food supply has taken a major hit since the economy’s decline. The decline of the country’s food supply has reached a point of crisis where basic food needs are not obtainable. The CLAP project will work to get food to Venezuelan residents. In addition, CLAP will serve as a way to regulate food distribution from house to house in order to ensure a proper amount of food for each family. CLAP representatives carry essential food and products to households. This system is meant to prioritize the needs of families and has already made deliveries to 504,000 families.
  5. Venezuela has launched a mining project called Arco Minero del Orinoco. Companies in China will be involved in the project. Two of the groups working with this project are China CAMC Engineering Co. and the Yankuang Group. Arco Minero is located in the northern part of Venezuela and is a prime spot for mining gold, diamonds, coltan, copper, iron and bauxite. The exploitation of these minerals will be a stepping stone in the quantification and certification of mineral reserves. As a result, mining will be a more widespread way to raise exports.

China has provided massive assistance to Venezuela over the years in an effort to help the country’s economy. With this new set of agreements, the trade partners will work together to make Venezuela’s economy more prominent. These five development projects in Venezuela are a start in the strengthening of Venezuela’s oil industry, economy and relationship with China.

– Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in TajikistanA former member of the Soviet-bloc, modern-day Tajikistan, unfortunately, answers to the calling card of poorest country in Eurasia. In 2012, the U.N. Population Fund found that 50 percent of Tajiks live in poverty and the economic downturn has only worsened in Eurasia since this figure was published. High rates of food insecurity also beset Tajikistan, due to its mountainous terrain, harsh winters and scarcity of arable land.

An incredible 93 percent of Tajikistan’s territory is covered by some of the tallest mountains in the world. This fact alone is a significant contributing factor to many of the obstacles to development that currently beset Tajikistan. In addition to high rates of food insecurity, other contributing factors include lack of a reliable power supply, limited transport connectivity and low levels of private investment.

Because the Tajik economy is highly dependent on remittances from migrant workers, the country is especially vulnerable to the regional economic hardships. The World Bank estimated that remittances constituted more than 50 percent of the country’s GDP in 2012. Russia and Kazakhstan have been the favored destinations of Tajik migratory workers since the mid-2000s and the remittances received from migrant workers in these countries have lifted many Tajik families out of poverty. Over the course of 2015, however, remittances from workers in Russia fell dramatically, which had the effect of contributing to a decline in the value of the Tajik currency by almost 17 percent relative to the dollar, since January 2015.

Amidst the troubling economic hardships facing many Tajiks today are several aid programs and development projects that are working to keep hope alive in this country. Here are five of the most salient development projects in Tajikistan:

  1. The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Tajikistan Partnership Strategy seeks to help the Tajik government “achieve sustained and inclusive growth that is less susceptible to external shocks and create higher-paying jobs” through three key initiatives: infrastructure investments and urban and transport development; investment in climate reforms, technical and vocational education and training for the purposes of economic diversification; and enhancing water resource management and climate change adaptation, targeting poorer regions in order to improve food security. These strategic objectives were implemented in 2016 and have a target completion date of 2020.
  2. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sees Tajikistan as a “linchpin” for regional security in Eurasia and has dedicated a significant amount of resources, with the goal of increasing the country’s security and stability. To combat food insecurity, USAID includes Tajikistan in its Feed the Future initiative, which addresses the root causes of hunger through accelerated agricultural development and improved nutrition. USAID has additionally worked to bolster the Tajik economy by assisting in the evolution of a regional electricity market.
  3. In an effort to foster economic recovery, The World Bank has dramatically increased its lending commitments to Tajikistan, from $10 million in 2016 to $226 million in 2017. Additionally, The World Bank implemented a Social Safety Net Strengthening Project in 2011, which aims to “improve the capacity of Tajikistan to plan, monitor, and manage social assistance for the poor.”
  4. Founded by the hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has operated in all regions of Tajikistan since 1992 and currently employs over 3,500 Tajik people. AKDN “supports the establishment of programs and institutions that allow the Government, private sector and civil society to play complementary roles” towards the goal of fostering prosperity and development in Tajikistan.
  5. The European Union (EU) has invested in development projects in Tajikistan since the formation of their partnership in 1991. Between 2014 and 2020, the EU’s development support for Tajikistan will focus on the health (€62 million), education (€75 million) and rural development (€110 million) sectors.

The current economic downturn has exacerbated Tajikistan’s struggle to overcome its numerous obstacles to security and stability, but these five development projects in Tajikistan provide hope for a more prosperous future.

– Savannah Bequeaith

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in ThailandEconomic development in Thailand has been increasing rapidly over the past 40 years. Poverty has declined considerably from 67 percent in 1986 to just 7.2 percent in 2015. The rate of economic recovery and the reignition of growth will both depend on how fast Thailand can address structural constraints. To this end, there is hope since, according to the World Bank, there are many opportunities available to help with development in Thailand and to help the many people in the country.

There are a variety of options that can help with development in Thailand such as improving the business environment, expanding trade through better integration with the global economy, implementing public investments to private capital, stimulating domestic consumption and improving the quality of public services across the country. Beginning in 2017, in order to be recognized as a developed country, Thailand set long-term economic goals that address many key issues in the country. The Minister of Transport in Thailand, Prajin Juntong, has created five development projects in to help boost the infrastructure sector and encourage growth and prosperity for the Southeast Asian country:

  1. Project one: Developing urban connection, which includes buses, sky trains, metros and taxis, to help improve connectivity between different parts of Bangkok and enhance travel for passengers. Advancing these forms of transportation will also promote the use of public transportation as opposed to private cars.
  2. Project two: Connecting railway tracks between cities within Thailand and with neighboring countries. The current railway system is a one-meter single track system but a one-meter dual-track system will be installed in its place. This will help ensure a timely and safe delivery of passengers and goods around the country. The targeted distance for this expansion is 3,000 kilometers or about 1,864 miles.
  3. Project three: Upgrading airports to accommodate the extra five million passengers at the Suvarnabhumi airport, Don Mueang airport and the Royal Thai Navy’s Utapao airport, all of which are international airports. Parts of this project include adding additional terminals and parking spots to airports and constructing extra runways. Smaller, more domestic airports like the one in Phuket will also receive upgrades so that there can be a high functioning airport available to take in the many travelers to the highly popular island.
  4. Project four: Expanding seaports in the southern part of Thailand, to and from the Andaman Sea, to expand trade between Europe and Asia. The main part of this project is a venture called the Dawei project, an international joint expansion project of seaports with Myanmar. Domestic ports like The Songkhla seaport and Chumporn seaport will be upgraded in the future and another new port, Pak Bala, will be built.
  5. Project five: Expanding roads and highways to increase public convenience and accommodate the increasing population. This project aims to connect people to newer economic zones. Recently, 12 of these economic zones have been added in Thailand so it is important that cities are connected to each other and economic areas are connected to neighboring countries.

Thailand’s economy is expected to develop further in 2018, with an increase of around 3.6 percent. Even faster growth may be possible in the long run with the inclusion of public infrastructure management. When these five development projects in Thailand are carried-out more opportunities will develop and economic growth will increase.  

Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in North KoreaLocated on the Korean peninsula, North Korea has been discreetly building up a nuclear arsenal while projecting its power to ensure that it is a force not to be reckoned with on the international stage. Despite such shows of power, it is known to be one of the largest food recipients in the world. More recently, it faces immense challenges as a result of ballistic missile tests that have been met with hard sanctions. Economically unbalanced and a grave threat to the international community, the hope of cooperation seems nonexistent. Kim Jong-un still has yet to respond to the country’s severe poverty situation, with about half of North Koreans living in poverty.

The Problem
Water quality in North Korea has been affected by a severe drought, forcing relief aid to step in and counter some of these issues. One observer had the opportunity to monitor the water quality in North Korea and witness the scarcity of access to clean water due to environmental degradation that has gravely affected the nation. Too often, the North Korean people are neglected and rarely humanized by news outlets, who tend to focus on the ominous threat that the country’s government presents.

This individual, who remained anonymous, observed the work of an international charity organization known as World Vision, an advocacy organization that works on development and humanitarian aid. During this visit to North Korea, the observer witnessed the lives of people in rural and urban areas, noting the environmental degradation that had taken place due to the effects of climate change, deforestation, soil erosion and water resource depletion.

In January, it was reported that “more than 50,000 hectares of farmland in North Korea’s granary zones have been damaged by drought.” According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a severe drought had plagued agricultural areas due to a 30-80 percent drop in precipitation in January. OCHA further cited that due to this drought, the effects were a deterioration in water quality in North Korea, causing a concern of waterborne diseases spreading among the population.

Initiatives
On a more positive note, according to a report by World Vision, there has been an increase in installations of wells, along with high-quality solar pumps, in order to pump water to water tanks on nearby hills. This action has led to substantial improvements in access to clean water for communities. Some of the most vulnerable who were lacking this inalienable right that a lot of us take for granted now have indoor plumbing, offering them clean sanitation. As the observer explained: “1,435 children will have easy access to clean water for the first time in their lives.”

Final Thoughts
With its relentless assault on freedom of expression and stifling of any political dissidents who may challenge the status quo, North Korea’s government remains a staunch opponent to any form of democracy. The average North Korean citizen only worries about their daily lives, which includes how to break out of poverty. North Koreans may be among the most difficult group of people in the world to help due to the restrictions imposed by their government, but taking simple steps to improve sanitation and water quality in North Korea can make a major improvement in their lives.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Poverty in Puerto RicoPuerto Rico, also known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is a self-governing organized territory of the United States of America. This means that Puerto Ricans are citizens of the U.S. Approximately 3.3 million people live on the island but, due to rising problems, a larger mass exodus is occurring than in the 1950s. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Puerto Rico.

10 Facts about Poverty in Puerto Rico

  1. 43.5 percent of Puerto Ricans are living below the poverty line. This is more than double the amount of citizens living in Mississippi. The poverty level, as defined by the Health and Human Services in 2017, was $20,420 a year for a family of three, or $24,600 for a family of four. The median income of Puerto Rican households is a little over $19,000 per year.
  2. The unemployment rate of Puerto Ricans is 10.1 percent as of April 2017. The main reason for this is a lack of jobs and the slow rate of economic improvement.
  3. Puerto Rican youth from the ages of 16-24 have higher rates of non-participation in school and in work as opposed to other racial groups living in the United States. Youth without high school diplomas are three times more likely to be unemployed, underemployed or working for very low wages.
  4. Puerto Ricans have a higher risk of cancer, diabetes, alcohol consumption, asthma and infant mortality rates. Puerto Ricans have a 33.7 incidence rate per 1,000 counts while this rate is only 18.7 among non-Hispanic whites.
  5. Puerto Rico has had to close 184 public schools due to the economic crisis. In an effort to save millions of dollars, 27,000 students will have to relocate to a different school. When many children are frequently absent from school, usually they are impoverished, violence in the community can arise, there are high rates of diseases and these children have to deal with stresses such as caring for siblings. Enrollment in schools has declined by about 40 percent over the last decade.
  6. Poverty in Puerto Rico has also been affected by the large cuts to the healthcare industry in March 2017. Puerto Rico Medicaid and Medicare rates are about half of what other U.S. states get and nearly all that money is in danger of being exhausted.
  7. Puerto Rico’s drinking water system has been tested and found with elevated levels of bacteria and chemicals as of May 2017. The drinking water has also failed lead safety regulations. Meanwhile, 70 percent of the island is served by that same water. The government-run water utility company, while neglecting to conduct the required safety tests, routinely shows failing results for the safety tests they do conduct, according to a new NRDC report.
  8. Puerto Rico is unable to provide its citizens with effective support due to its crippling debt. The island has a debt of approximately 123 billion dollars.
  9. Population decline will hinder the island’s ability to recover and grow. As many Puerto Ricans leave the island, there will be fewer workers, which in turn leads to less productive capacity and lower consumer demand.
  10. 640,000 Puerto Ricans on the island receive food stamps.

These 10 facts about poverty in Puerto Rico might seem daunting. However, there have been many steps to help combat the issue on the island. Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello released a $9.6 billion spending plan to reduce the island’s debt, which can help relieve many of the issues stated above. There is speculation that The Jones Act will be repealed which means that it would improve the island’s maritime industry, adding new jobs and reducing costs of Puerto Ricans goods.

The 10 facts about poverty in Puerto Rico stem from the economic turmoil that the island has been experiencing. Once the island sees a rise in the economy and starts implementing positive strategies that spur growth, the poverty rate in Puerto Rico should start declining.

– Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

South Sudan and Congo use U.S. AidOn October 21, 2017, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared her intent to scrutinize how South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) use U.S. aid. “The U.N. spends over $2 billion per year on the peacekeeping missions in these two countries alone…. we will not do that if our assistance is continuously blocked from reaching people in need,” said Haley.

The idea that developing countries waste generous donations from developed countries informs a great deal of discussion around the continent. Not only has the myth of corruption been inflated in the past decade, but the myth doesn’t explain the struggles of the two nations singled out by Haley. Here’s how the DRC and South Sudan utilize foreign assistance to develop a better future for themselves and for America.

South Sudan

In the 2017 fiscal year, the U.S. provided over $1 billion of humanitarian aid to South Sudan. Of that money, $746 million went to emergency assistance and $246 million went to life-saving care for refugees. These funds were provided for disease screenings, malnutrition treatment and staple food donations.

How can anyone be sure that the money went to those provisions? Development Initiatives may be an applicable answer. According to the website’s data, South Sudan brought in $3.3 billion in 2015. Of that money, $457.7 million was dedicated to operating expenses and $573.3 million went to oil service payments. Oil transfers to states, block grants to states and emergency funds made up 33 percent of expenditures according to Development Initiatives, roughly $1 billion.

Though operating expenses for oil companies may seem like a waste of how South Sudan and Congo Use U.S. Aid, allowing an economy to develop ensures that a nation will not always depend on foreign aid. For an example of how a financed economy can keep a war-torn nation afloat, look no further than…

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Between 2011 and 2015, the DRC emerged as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, averaging at 7 percent annual GDP growth. The Economist predicts that Africa will overtake Asia with the number of countries on the fastest-growing economies list.

But why should the U.S. continue investing in an underdeveloped region mitigated with political strife? According to Alyoscia D’Onofrio of the International Rescue Committee, the world may not be giving enough aid as is. D’Onofrio acknowledges the massive poverty, malnutrition crises and presidential abuses plaguing the DRC. But donor aid provides an incentive for the DRC to respect its people’s wishes and bring an end to the violence. The U.N. has decreased the amount of aid sent to the DRC over the past five years. Giving less money has not helped people in poverty. To allow for long-term political change, argues D’Onofrio, the country needs to escape from its vulnerable state. The DRC can only do so by providing basic needs for its citizens.

Ambassador Haley suggests a re-assessment of how South Sudan and the DRC use U.S. Aid, and D’Onofrio agrees with her on that point. He believes that aid requires evidence-supported approaches, and he questions the effectiveness of NGOs. Despite these misgivings, D’Onofrio still supports foreign aid, and would not deprive funds, as suggested by Haley. “We view these efforts as foundational for bringing real and lasting improvements in… the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said D’Onofrio in a Time Magazine article. “Now is not the time to step back from the challenge.”

Nick Edinger

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in EgyptOver the past decade, the poverty rate in Egypt has steadily increased. As of mid-2016, the poverty rate in Egypt was 27.8 percent, an increase of 2.6 percent from 2010. This high poverty rate in Egypt has affected children, many of whom are malnourished. In mid-2014, 31 percent of children under the age of 5 were considered to have stunted growth because of malnutrition. Often, families who have little money opt to spend it on cheaper food options rather than nutritious food. 

Poverty in Egypt affects not only many children, but also populations living in rural areas. When compared to urban areas in Egypt, the poverty rate in rural areas was 37 percent higher as of July 2016.

But the information begs the question: why is Egypt poor? One report writes that there is a correlation between poverty and the number of family members. This is in addition to illiteracy. Given that impoverished people are less likely to enroll in education, they are also more likely to remain impoverished. Thus, the cycle of poverty remains.

Illiteracy and Poverty in Egypt

In 2013, 25.9 percent of Egypt’s population was illiterate. A lack of education in Egyptians can pass down through families, decreasing the likelihood that anyone in the family will be able to pull themselves out of poverty.

Beyond illiteracy, an increase in inflation has lead to an increase in food prices, which has also driven many of the country’s citizens into poverty. In June 2016, the yearly rate of inflation in the prices of consumer goods was 14.8 percent. 

As a means of combatting inflation and the increased price of food, Egypt’s government-issued ration cards to almost 70 percent of the population. In 2015, these food subsidies protected 4.6 percent of Egyptians from becoming impoverished.

The country’s illiteracy rate has decreased by over 10 percent since 1996 – at that time the illiteracy rate was over 39.4 percent.

Organizations like the Egyptian Authority for Educating Adults (EAEA) work towards decreasing Egypt’s poverty. The EAEA aims at providing people with the skills needed to work on their own projects, which is directed at getting more people in Egypt into the workforce and driving them out of poverty.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

 

AMREF: Lasting Health Changes in AfricaSurgeons Michael Wood, Archibald McIndoe, and Tom Rees came up with a plan to provide medical assistance in remote regions of East Africa in 1957. Today, the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) is the most respected health development organization based in Africa. Their mission is simple: bringing lasting healthcare improvements to Africa.

AMREF’s strategy is based on seven priority areas:

  1. Maternal health, including safer pregnancies, support for reproductive rights and cervical cancer prevention for disadvantaged women.
  2. Child health, including integrated management of childhood illnesses and improved childhood nutrition.
  3. Fighting diseases like HIV, TB and malaria with prevention, care and treatment.
  4. Improving access to safe water and sanitation to prevent epidemics of waterborne diseases.
  5. A wider reach of quality clinical and diagnostic services by strengthening health facilities.
  6. Research and advocacy to distribute knowledge to healthcare workers across the continent.
  7. A strong, united AMREF Health Africa.

AMREF works to make significant healthcare improvements in African countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Senegal. AMREF has been successful in developing community-based healthcare models and programs with communities, which is the heart of their system. It reaches and respects communities and brings lasting healthcare improvements to Africa from within.

AMREF launched the successful Stand Up for African Mothers campaign to ensure that mothers are given adequate medical care during pregnancy and childbirth. It aimed to train 15,000 midwives to reduce maternal death by 25 percent. One trained midwife was projected to provide care for 500 women each year, including safe deliveries of 100 babies.

AMREF set up the Kenya eLearning Nurses Upgrading Programme in 2005 and a few years later, it expanded to include the AMREF Virtual Nursing School. The program has further evolved to implement projects such as:

  • Conversion of the Diploma in Community Health program to eLearning
  • Conversion of six distance education courses to eLearning
  • The Center for Disease Control-supported infection prevention and control program
  • Conversion of the national antiretroviral therapy guidelines to eLearning
  • Replication of the eLearning program in various countries across the region including Uganda, Tanzania and Senegal
  • Support for the Ministries of Health in non-AMREF countries to implement eLearning, including Zambia and Lesotho.

More than 220 women die each day due to pregnancy and childbirth complications in Sub-Saharan Africa, and children in Africa are 16 times more likely to die before the age of five than in developed regions. This highlights the serious need for healthcare improvements in Africa. AMREF has shown that when women have more control over their life and health, they become more effective and have a great impact on their own community.

AMREF has taken the lead to improve the situation by partnering with and empowering communities and strengthening healthcare systems. Their priority areas address the most pressing healthcare concerns, bringing lasting healthcare improvements to Africa in the places where it is needed most.

Tripti Sinha

Photo: Flickr

UrbanizationSince 2013, the U.N. has celebrated October 31 as World Cities Day in support of global urbanization and sustainable urban development. This year’s theme of “Innovative Governance, Open Cities” highlights the important role of urbanization as a source of global development and social inclusion. Urbanization in developing countries contributes to poverty reduction, access to sanitation facilities and education equality if managed correctly.

Urbanization is the result of an increase in population in urban areas. Urban areas differ from rural areas due to numerical and occupational differences in population. For the most part, urban areas have more inhabitants with more industrial professions than the less populated, more agriculture-centric rural areas. Each country sets certain criteria to distinguish urban areas; “some countries define any place with a population of 2,500 or more as urban; others set a minimum of 20,000.”

 

These six numbers represent urban development in the world:

  • 54.5 percent
    In 2016, more than half of the world’s population resided in urban areas. From 30 percent in 1950, the urban population of the world has grown rapidly. An estimated 54.5 percent of the globe now resides in urban agglomerates. By 2030, 60 percent of the world is expected to reside in urban areas.
  • 33.2 million
    The biggest city in the world today, Tokyo, has a population of 33.2 million. Tokyo’s high population, over 10 million, qualifies the city as a megacity. In 1970, Tokyo and New York were the only megacities in the world. Today, Tokyo is one of 23 megacities, including 13 in Asia, four in Latin America and two each in Africa, Europe and North America.
  • $600 million
    UN-Habitat has set aside $600 million to focus exclusively on urbanization issues, including “growth of slums, inadequate and out of date infrastructure and escalating poverty and unemployment.” While urbanization brings many positive changes, the related potential for dislocation and destabilization is the focus of the UN-Habitat for a better urban future.
  • 99 percent
    According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies 2015 report, “nearly 99 percent of urbanization between now and 2050 will take place in the developing world.” The report maps out urbanization as an economic opportunity for donors of developing nations, as long as urban challenges are addressed.
  • 80 percent
    In 2013, the World Bank reported that over 80 percent of global goods and services are produced in cities. Just the year before, “large cities made up 33 percent of the world’s global population, but produced more than 55 percent of all global economic output.” The amount of goods and services produced in cities exceeds those produced elsewhere in the world.
  • 82 percent
    The most urbanized region in the world is Northern America, with 82 percent urbanization, according to the U.N. Latin America and the Caribbean follow with 80 percent urbanization and Europe with 73 percent urbanization. Africa and Asia are urbanizing faster than any other region. While they are mostly rural now, Africa and Asia are projected to become 56 and 64 percent urban respectively by 2050.

Urbanization is spreading across the world at a growing pace. If managed properly, urbanization in developing countries can help lift many people out of poverty by providing better access to jobs, education and services. Supporting this goal is a worldwide effort.

Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr

Innovations Against PovertyEven with active funding partners, some development agencies may fall short if lacking internal infrastructure. While funding is certainly an important aspect of achieving sustainable development goals, it may be just as important to ensure that the strategists and support for development projects are up to date and relevant. SNV: Smart Development Works is a nonprofit that works toward providing such resources through an expansive network of professionals in a variety of different sectors. SNV works with policy experts, local governments, private business and institutes of higher learning to provide lasting differences in extremely poor communities.

SNV was founded in the Netherlands in the mid-’60s and has since established itself in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Expertise in sectors relating to agriculture, energy, water, sanitation and health have helped solve problems locally and provide sustainable solutions to poverty. SNV is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency and managed in partnership with BoP Innovation Center and Inclusive Business Sweden.

SNV has several projects on the ground and one in particular worth noting. Innovations Against Poverty is working in the private sector to develop products and services that can aid in fighting global poverty. This particular mission has focused its efforts on younger demographics as well as women in order to empower groups to shift gender and age paradigms. Companies can apply for the Innovations Against Poverty program to get funding that incentivizes innovation, entrepreneurship and consumption of goods and services in their communities.

Innovations Against Poverty was created with the idea that the private sector is a powerful mechanism for creating jobs and increasing incomes while also providing necessary goods and services to a community. Low-income markets in impoverished communities contain business opportunities that can be sustainably exploited with adequate startup funds and resources. Innovations Against Poverty exists to stimulate development where it otherwise would not exist, with financial support ranging from $60,000 to $200,000. Innovations Against Poverty gains a non-reimbursable capital return and provides advisory support for its investors. This support includes training and coaching from international experts. The program also narrows its support to cases that are not seen as “risk free”, thereby investing in businesses that may not receive support in most cases.

Innovations Against Poverty has registered over 1300 companies since its inception and is expected to grow. These innovative solution investments have primarily been made in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Zambia, with a focus in the agriculture and energy sectors. With continued success, Innovations Against Poverty can foster development in more countries all over the world.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr