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Africa’s Music IndustryIn April of 2020, the world’s most popular music streaming platform and one of the world’s biggest independent recording companies inked a new global licensing deal that will allocate more resources to new and existing entertainment markets in Africa. Spotify Music and Warner Music Group are working together to create new opportunities for artists to achieve international success in various countries, but Warner Music group is focusing on elevating the music streaming sector in Africa by investing in Africori, “a leading digital music platform for African artists and record labels.” Investing in Africa’s music industry could potentially contribute to lifting the continent out of poverty.

Warner Music Group Elevates Africa

Spotify has been available in Africa since 2018 in countries like Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia. While the company has hinted at future expansion in more African countries, its current licensing deal with Warner Music Group is working to elevate its global initiatives for Warner Group artists to grow the music industry worldwide.

Warner Music Group’s investment in Africori will make this possible by promoting existing African artists abroad, being able to sign global licensing deals with new artists and tap into a market that can provide opportunities for rising African stars. The main reason for investment will be to make African artists global by marketing their music to a global audience and giving newly signed artists the resources they need to grow their brand over time.

What is Africori?

Africori is an African digital music platform that is involved in almost every method of artist promotion. Its services include marketing, publishing, artist development, video distribution and booking artists around the globe. It was launched in 2009 “in response to the lack of opportunities available for African artists,” who now aim to make Africa a global source of inspiration. Africori already distributes to more than 200 domestic and international platforms because of their unique understanding of the African market.

This investment will transform Africa’s music industry by filling hundreds of job opportunities that are needed to manage global artists.

Investing in Africa’s creative minds has the potential for a big return for Warner Music Group as Africa’s music and entertainment sector is on course to reach 177.2 billion African rands of revenue in 2022, which equals $11.5 billion.

5 Reasons to Invest in Africa’s Creative Minds

With the investment deal being highly publicized, this move can inspire other U.S. or international entertainment groups to invest more in Africa’s music industry and entertainment sector.

  1. Music is a driving factor to economic success. Besides the artists themselves bringing in a high amount of revenue, a booming entertainment sector can create a multitude of jobs from publicists, directors, dancers, managers, set designers and more. Africa’s music sector is currently on the rise compared to many countries that already have established major entertainment deals.

  2.  Artist success leads to other business ventures. This could mean brand deals and sponsoring artists with products. Artists can partner up with African product companies, clothing companies, social media and more, to simultaneously promote themselves and other businesses.

  3. African artists are cultural magnets and trendsetters. Brian Nadra, an African musician labeled “an artist to watch in 2020” was called “an ambassador of East-African pop culture” in a region where there have not been many successful male singers. African artists are already being noticed globally which opens the door for new artists to achieve that same title.

  4. Africa’s music streaming platforms are on the rise. Currently, smartphone usage in Africa is estimated to grow exponentially in the next few years. Widespread smartphone usage will increase revenue per stream, platform subscriptions and music video views.

  5. Alleviating poverty in Africa. Growing the music scene in underdeveloped African countries can give people hope and an opportunity to pull them out of poverty. Many artists do not reach their goals because they lack the proper team or funding to continue to do so. Receiving funding to improve development gives communities a chance to prosper.

Africa’s creative minds have proven to be an untapped source of talent and inspiration. Africa’s music industry has the potential to grow itself and many other areas of the business to support artists for years to come. Warner Music Group’s decision to invest in Africori is just the beginning of supporting Africa’s ability to prosper.

– Julia Ditmar
Photo: Flickr

Help Yemeni WomenOn top of the constant violence occurring in Yemen, almost 13% of the population face unemployment. Most women in Yemen work as homemakers, but a 2012 study, Measuring Women’s Status in Yemen, shows that almost one in two women (47%) would like to start their own business. Initiatives in Yemen offer women free business training, skills training and loans to help Yemeni women generate an income.

The Small and Micro Enterprises Promotion Service Agency (SMEPS)

SMEPS came to Yemen in 2005 and works to enhance the lives of Yemeni citizens through the creation of jobs and skills training. SMEPS has taught Yemeni women the best growing, harvesting and post-harvesting techniques for coffee beans. Yemeni women helped create a coffee that entered the gourmet market at a premium price. SMEPS also helped coffee farmers in Yemen. The aim was to create business resilience by expanding the production of farmers through improving the value chain by using modern technologies and better farming methods.

In 2010, SMEPS partnered with The International Labour Organization (ILO) to provide business training for women entrepreneurs. ILO came to Yemen in 1965 and has created opportunities for citizens to rise out of poverty. In one year, the workshops targeted around 500 Yemeni women who had taken out a loan to either start a small business or expand their existing businesses. The second phase of the program aims to reach 2,000 more women. Results indicate that after the training courses, the women had a higher level of business knowledge and competence to start or improve their own businesses. Overall, the women improved their quality of life with the income they earned.

SPARK’s Agri-Business Creation Programme (ABC)

SPARK came to Yemen around 2012 to assist citizens in agriculture, helping them earn an income from their crops. SPARK created a program called Agri-Business Creation (ABC) to help agri-entrepreneurs through training, mentoring and business plans. The program has notably assisted Yemeni women in developing agricultural businesses. Four female-run businesses were awarded microloans to expand their business after the training they received in business skills from SPARK’s ABC program. The loans help Yemeni women to generate more products and expand their businesses. Besides seeing an increase in income, the success of their work contributed to a boost in confidence and a sense of independence in the women.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

GIZ came to Yemen in 1965 and assisted citizens with basic necessities and the provision of educational opportunities. First, GIZ helped Yemeni women develop businesses. Nearly 200 women attended training on how to develop a successful business idea and how to establish a business. Many women found prosperity in their new businesses and employed other women to assist them in their work. Secondly, around 300 women with existing businesses received additional business training via coaching. After the training, many women tripled their income and hired more women to work for them. Lastly, GIZ created opportunities for homemakers to sell handmade goods overseas. GIZ took handmade baskets made by Yemeni women to Germany and showed off their goods in exhibitions. This strategy helped 300 women in rural areas earn a steady income.

Although the raging war in Yemen has resulted in high unemployment, organizations like SMEPS, SPARK and GIZ offer programs and strategies to help  Yemeni women earn an income by developing entrepreneurial businesses.

– Samantha Rodriguez-Silva
Photo: Flickr

Kuli KuliKuli Kuli is a company that sells products made from the moringa tree, a superfood that is high in vitamins, antioxidants, plant proteins, anti-inflammatory properties and has twice the nutrient value of kale. The company’s products consist of energy bars, tea shots and a variety of powders and smoothie mixes.

Kuli Kuli: Identifying a Need

Lisa Curtis developed a heart for those living in extreme poverty while serving briefly as a regional youth coordinator for the United Nations. This led her to volunteer for the Peace Corps in 2010 at age 22, which sent her to work at a community clinic in rural Nigeria. While there, she was introduced to a locally-grown energy source, moringa, and was impressed by both its healing properties and nutritional punch. She quickly saw how a moringa market could address not only the malnutrition issues of the people and villages she worked with but also provide business opportunities for local farmers.

Empowering Women Farmers

Moringa has restorative powers for the human body but it turns out that it also has potential for sustainable economic growth. Kuli Kuli addresses these needs simultaneously by working with small but high-quality farmers and establishing supply chains to foster economic growth and nutritional security in West Africa. Notably, most of the farmers that the company works with are women. In 2020, the company sourced moringa from over 2,400 farmers across 13 countries, with the largest group being African women. The company generated $5.2 million for these farmers and helped to plant and preserve over 24,600,000 moringa trees.

Not only does the company help these farms to scale up their businesses but it also provides training to increase the quality of their products and local use of the plant. Moringa is invaluable for farmers. It requires little water, provides restorative properties for the soil and overall is fairly easy to grow, especially in rural regions where the soil is untainted by industrial areas. The company founder’s ambitious vision seeks to eliminate gender inequality, income inequality, global malnutrition and extreme poverty.

Creating a New Market in Moringa

Since its launch in 2014, Kuli Kuli has dominated the market on moringa products. Though moringa grows naturally in parts of Asia, Africa and South America, the company was the first to introduce the superfood to the United States’ wellness market. By 2020, the company was selling products in 11,000 stores nationwide. According to Curtis, the company has averaged 100% growth every year. Some years do even better, as demonstrated by 2017’s Series A financing, which tripled its retail business, and 2019’s $5 million Series B financing deal with Griffith Foods and Kellogg. With this most recent investment, Kuli Kuli plans to expand into moringa ingredient products. Certainly, Griffith Foods’ 30-country chain is quite a catch for the young wellness startup.

Kuli Kuli’s success demonstrates the power of developing new markets in developing countries that expand into developed ones. Not only is the company empowering rural farmers and fighting malnutrition and extreme poverty in developing countries but moringa products are fast climbing the list of top green wellness supplements in the United States. By noticing this virtually untapped international market and being quick to capitalize on it, the company found itself supplying more than half of the U.S. retail moringa market by 2020, a mere six years after its startup.

– Andria Pressel
Photo: Flickr

Agroforestry Can Reduce Global PovertyForests provide food, medicine, fodder and energy for 250 million of the world’s extreme poor. If utilized properly, the method of agroforestry can reduce global poverty. The resources and benefits that forests can provide are often inaccessible to those in poverty due to the private ownership of forests.

Ownership of Forests

Approximately 77% of the world’s forests are owned and administered by governments that do not recognize the claims of indigenous peoples and local communities to the land. Since government priorities do not always align with community needs, the locals who need the forests to survive do not receive the benefits that they should. For example, the timber and ecotourism industries in Africa are skyrocketing but the locals do not share in the profits.

Agroforestry

Agroforestry, the agricultural practice of growing trees and shrubs around crops or pastureland, can ameliorate this problem. Agroforestry builds on existing agricultural land already owned by communities to create new forests not owned by the government, thereby circumventing the ownership problem and guaranteeing that profits remain in the community. Agroforestry systems are smaller in scale than typical forests but they still deliver many of the same positive results: they diversify production, restore soil fertility and increase biodiversity.

The benefits of agroforestry extend beyond environmental issues. Agroforestry can reduce global poverty by increasing food resources and security, improving nutrition and increasing profits for farmers.

3 Countries Using Agroforestry

  1. Bolivia uses agroforestry to reduce food insecurity. Bolivia is one of the biggest producers of organic cacao, which despite being edible, is not a major food crop. Cacao is grown mostly wild or in monocultures, though there is a growing shift to agroforestry systems where cacao trees are intercropped with shade trees and other by-crops like bananas and avocados. Over 75% of Bolivian households lack regular access to basic foods. Thanks to agroforestry, 40% of the population who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods can both produce more food and earn more money to buy what they do not grow. The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) found that the return on labor was double for agroforestry systems compared to monocultures even though the cacao yields were 40% higher in the monocultures. The revenue difference came from the sale of the by-crops, which offset the lower cacao yield. The by-crops helped farmers earn a profit but also represented a food source for the communities.

  2. Burkina Faso uses agroforestry as a means of women’s empowerment. The U.N. Development Program estimates that an average of three million African women work directly or indirectly with shea butter. Women have historically played an important role in the extraction of shea butter but they have not always been compensated for their work, even as the industry and profits grew. Agroforestry allows for more community involvement in farming, which in turn opens up opportunities for women. NGOs like CECI and WUSC help to train women in shea harvesting as part of the Uniterra project, which aims to get women involved in entrepreneurial ventures such as developing their own shea butter businesses for international exports. As a result of agroforestry, more women are empowered to take themselves out of poverty.

  3. India is a global leader in agroforestry policy. India was the first country to create a national agroforestry policy in 2014 despite existing policies that were unfavorable to agriculture, weak markets and a lack of institutional finance. The country set the ambitious goal of increasing national tree cover to 33% as a way to make agriculture more sustainable while optimizing its productivity. Agroforestry is currently in use on 13.5 million hectares in India but the government hopes to expand it to increase benefits like reducing poverty and malnutrition by tripling crop yields. Already, agroforestry provides 65% of the country’s timber and almost half of its fuelwood. Timber production on tree farms generates 450 employment days per hectare per year, which can reduce rural unemployment, and in turn, rural poverty.

The Potential of Agroforestry in Poverty Reduction

Many other rural communities in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia have relied on agroforestry throughout history, with and without government backing. As a whole, agroforestry is underused in the fight against global poverty. Nations with large agricultural sectors need to adopt agroforestry policies and promote the training needed to help farmers implement agroforestry on a large scale. These agroforestry efforts have the potential to significantly contribute to global poverty reduction.

– Brooklyn Quallen
Photo: Flickr

Urban Farming Can Help Reduce Poverty

The United Nations reports that over 2.5 billion people live in urban areas today and the rate of urbanization is only accelerating. By 2025, it is estimated that 3.5 billion people will live in urban areas, nearly half of the world’s population. People’s way of life is changing and the way people access their food also needs to adapt, which is where urban farming comes in. Urban farming can help reduce poverty in addition to an array of other benefits.

Challenges of Urbanization

Historically, moving to a city has been associated with increased opportunity and wealth, driven by more and better jobs and the promise of upward momentum and a better life. Today, the reality of urbanization is much different. Urbanization in low-income countries is growing exponentially and marked by poverty, unemployment and food insecurity. Many people move to the city from rural areas to escape over-population, violence, disease and hunger. As a direct result of this, about one billion people live in urban slums without access to sanitization, clean water or enough food or work. To survive, many people have resorted to growing their own food wherever they can. This is known as urban agriculture or urban farming and in many places, it is becoming the front line of food production.

What is Urban Farming?

Urban farming is a local food system of growing plants and raising livestock in and around cities, as opposed to traditional rural areas. Today, 800 million people around the world rely on urban agriculture for access to fresh, healthy foods. Urban agriculture is versatile, allowing for different crops to be grown. This provides urban communities with direct access and control over nutritious and locally-produced food, which creates jobs and boosts the local economy. Urban farming is also good for the environment and positively impacts household food security. All of these factors result in poverty reduction, which helps quickly developing urban areas.

Financial Incentives

Urban agriculture requires workers to harvest, care for, sell and maintain crops and animals. This has a huge impact on families struggling to find employment by creating jobs and supporting livelihoods. Additionally, it makes fresh food cheaper, allowing people in low-income areas access to affordable produce. Urban farming can help reduce poverty because when more people have jobs and are able to buy, it fuels the economy, creating even more opportunities. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) sees how important urban agriculture is in poverty reduction efforts and has helped over 20 city governments implement multidisciplinary actions to optimize policies, financial incentives and training programs to low-income farmers in order to “improve horticultural production systems.”

Environmental Benefits

Cities, especially highly populated ones, face many environmental challenges. These may include lack of greenspace, heat capture, pollution, lack of biodiversity and poor air quality. Urban farming can reduce the negative effects of these concerns. By decreasing carbon dioxide in the air, providing environments for different species to thrive and decreasing the environmentally costly process of importing food from other places, urban agriculture is environmentally beneficial.

Success Stories

Across the world, urban farming is helping people and seeing success in many communities. RotterZwam, located in Rotterdam, Netherlands, is a “circular system” mushroom farming operation that uses coffee grounds used by local businesses to fertilize the plants. The facility itself is solar-powered and delivers products with electric cars. Another organization based out of London, England, uses the same circular system method. Called GrowUp Urban Farms, the farm grows crops and farms fish simultaneously by utilizing their symbiotic relationship. Both farms are good for the environment and jobs and are also booming local businesses.

Overall, urban farming can help reduce poverty in a number of important ways. It improves local economies by stimulating commerce and creating jobs, helps the environment and provides healthy, affordable food to local communities.

– Noelle Nelson
Photo: Flickr

tourism in Myanmar

Since 2011, tourism in Myanmar grew rapidly. One million tourists visited the country in 2011 and more than three million did in 2017. The Tourism Master Plan 2013-2020 came to life to develop Myanmar’s tourism industry, create jobs and attract more international tourists. Hilton and Best Western are investors in Myanmar and foreign investment in Myanmar’s hotel and tourism industry amounted to $2.6 billion in 2017.

Tourism Master Plan

There are six strategy programs in Myanmar’s Tourism Master Plan. The strategies involve strengthening the institutional environment, building human resource capacity and promoting service quality, strengthening safeguards and procedures for destination planning and management, developing quality products and services, improving connectivity and tourism-related infrastructure and building the image, position and brand of Tourism Myanmar.

The Master Plan set a high target of attracting 3.01 million international visitors in 2015 and 7.48 million in 2020. Myanmar surpassed its goal in 2015 by attracting 4.6 million international visitors. More than 500,000 tourists arrived from Thailand and China in 2018.

An estimated 804,000 jobs in 2016 were from the travel and tourism sectors. In 2012, before the plan was enacted, there were 293,000 tourism-related jobs. Investment in the industry creates employment for those seeking to exit poverty, as unskilled workers in rural areas now have opportunities for employment in the developing tourism industry. About 40 percent of the poor reside in rural regions. Poverty reduced from 48 percent in 2015 to 25 percent in 2019. Part of this huge decrease in poverty is due to growing industries such as tourism.

Foreign Investors

Myanmar’s tourism and hotel sector received $2.6 billion in 2017 from foreign investors, which indicated increased interest relating to tourism in Myanmar. The main investor was Singapore, which is on Myanmar’s list of its top ten tourists by nationality. A $63 million venture between Myanmar’s KMA Hotel Group and Thailand’s Centara Hotels and Resorts to develop a hotel chain is one direct flow into the industry. Many other projects were created to compensate for the tourism boom.

Training in Tourism

Since tourism in Myanmar increases exponentially, it is expanding educational programs to teach skills necessary for working in the tourism and travel industry. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s (MOHT) Tourism and Training School offers classes for tour guide training and tourism management. The MOHT also partnered with the Ministry of Education to offer a four-year degree in tourism at two colleges, the National Management Degree College in Yangon and Mandalar Degree College in Mandalay.

Almost 400 students earned a master’s degree in Tourism Studies and Management from Yangon University since its inception in 2015. The program accepts 60 students per year. The Hospitality Training School opened in 2016 and offers courses relating to housekeeping, front office and food and beverage.

Myanmar Tourism Bank

The Myanmar Tourism Bank opened in Yangon this year to provide long-term, long-cost loans to the tourism and hospitality sector. It is also the first bank in the country dedicated solely to the sector. It offers most services provided by commercial banks. The bank is yet another way Myanmar plans to stimulate investment in the tourism industry, particularly by smaller operators that desire to benefit from the rapid growth.

Growing Tourism Industry

Myanmar received 2.4 million visitors in the first five months of 2019, which is its strongest year since 2015. The current tourism boom shows promise for tourism in Myanmar. Job creation, increased GDP and reduced poverty are all positive effects of the growing tourism industry.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Ethiopian Airlines
At the 2018 Arabian Travel Awards, Ethiopian Airlines was voted as the “Best African Airline,” a recognition of the carrier’s impressive expansion into new markets over the past decade.

To fuel its growth and Ethiopia’s booming tourism industry, Ethiopian Airlines plans to build a new airport with an annual capacity of 80 million passengers. In addition to connecting Ethiopia to foreign investors and multinational companies, the airline has engaged with impoverished Ethiopians directly by funneling their profits into charitable causes.

In the article below six things to know about Ethiopian Airlines and its impact on economic development in Ethiopia are explained.

Top 6 Things About Ethiopian Airlines

  1. Ethiopia’s location in the Horn of Africa makes it a prime spot for aviation. As a proof for this statement, the number of passengers flown by Ethiopian Airlines tripled from 2008 to 2017. A 2015 United Nations article found that Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s fastest growing and most profitable passenger and cargo airline. On the cutting edge of innovation, Ethiopian Airlines was the second carrier in the world to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner back in 2012. As of now, the carrier serves 101 international and 22 domestic destinations.
  2. Ethiopian Airlines is key for the country’s Vision 2025 framework, under which the government plans to make Addis Ababa the leading manufacturing hub of Africa. The national airline will help Ethiopia achieve Vision 2025 by connecting Ethiopia to China and South America. Last year, the carrier launched flight to Chengdu, China, and in 2018 the Airlines has expanded into Buenos Aires, Chicago and Geneva.
  3. The Airline’s expansive network has helped to transform Ethiopia into a major tourist destination. In 2015, the European Council on Tourism and Trade named Ethiopia the world’s best tourism destination. That same year, 681,000 tourists visited Ethiopia, supporting a tourism industry that makes up 4.5 percent of the country’s GDP and provides more than one million jobs.
  4. Ethiopian Airlines has made environmental protection a pillar of its corporate social responsibility. Under its “Plant one tree for every passenger flown” project, the company will plant nine million trees across different regions of Ethiopia. Moreover, the airline has trained its employees on integrated waste management, hazardous chemical treatment, air quality monitoring and sustainable production. At the Ethiopian Aviation Academy, pilots-in-training can now take a course on the U.N. Environment Sustainable Consumption and Green Economy Program. Erik Solheim, the Head of U.N. Environment, applauded Ethiopian Airlines for raising the bar on environmental responsibility and green business.
  5. Beyond its commitment to a green economy, Ethiopian Airlines uses its planes to deliver educational supplies to impoverished Ethiopians. For example, Ethiopian Airlines partnered with the African Legal Library Project, a nonprofit organization, to transport 40 boxes with 720 law books, as well as 101 e-Readers with over 1,000 books each to Debre Markos University.
  6. The company has also used its resources to deliver medical aid to impoverished Ethiopians. In 2010, Ethiopian Airlines collaborated with Seattle Anesthesia Outreach (SAO) to deliver 12,000 pounds worth of medical supplies, mainly anesthesia equipment to the Black Lion Hospital, the largest hospital in the country. To supplement the delivery of medical supplies, 20 SAO doctors traveled to Ethiopia as part of a humanitarian trip. To this day, Ethiopian Airlines fills empty cargo space in its passenger planes with humanitarian supplies.

Rapid, sustained growth is in the Ethiopian Airlines’s horizon. In May 2018, Ethiopian Airlines accelerated its expansion plans, confirming that it will order 13 additional Boeing 787s and six Airbus A350s. According to the Brookings Institution, the company plans to invest in start-up airlines across Africa.

It bought a minority stake in Malawi Airlines in 2013 and helped relaunch Zambia Airways in January 2018. Looking forward, Ethiopian Airlines plans to jumpstart national carriers in Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea, signaling its desire to connect not only Ethiopia but the whole African continent to the global economy.

– Mark Blekherman


Photo: Flickr

Upaya Invests in India to Create Jobs

According to the World Poverty Clock, five percent of India’s total population (1.3 billion people) face extreme poverty, with each person living on at most $1.90 per day. With such huge numbers, Upaya invests in India to provide stable jobs and steady income to the poor.

Upaya Investing in India

Derived from a Sanskrit word, Upaya means “Skillful means” or “method,” meaning any activity, skill, experience or practice that helps one toward the realization of a goal. With similar intentions, Upaya is tirelessly providing long-term solutions for people living in extremely poor conditions across India.

Seattle-based Upaya invests in India to create employment for the poorest of the poor through its accelerator program and investments in partner enterprises across regions that face extreme poverty. The firm supports early stage enterprises that ensure people in extreme poverty have a stable job and steady income, making them more self-reliant. So far, its 14 partner enterprises have already created over 8,500 sustainable jobs, effectively lifting many job seekers out of extreme poverty.

An Interview Between The Borgen Project and Upaya

The Borgen Project spoke to Upaya CEO, Kate Cochran, to get deeper insights into the firm’s accelerator program and how Upaya invests in India:

The Borgen Project (TBP): Tell us something about Upaya and how it all started?

Kate Cochran (KC): Upaya was originally inspired by a research project which was led by our co-founder Sachi Shenoy to answer the question – how do you scalably serve the extreme poor? We use the World Bank definition of people living on $1.90 or less a day. Our model is to invest in social entrepreneurs who are creating businesses that can create the jobs that employ the poor.

TBP: Can you talk a little about Upaya’s accelerator program?

KC: In 2017, we took our learnings from our first five years and created a program which allowed us to work with more companies at one time and more companies that we can afford to invest in. We bring them together for workshops. We connect them with mentors and experts in the field. We get to know them and we do field visits and at end of the period. We select one to three of those companies for equity investments from Upaya.

TBP: Is there a different focus sector every year that Upaya invests in India?

KC: It is a different theme each year. We select segments in industries that we focus on because we find that by grouping companies, probably in the same industry but not so narrowly that they feel competitive with each other, we can put together a curriculum that is more valuable to them. This is not only because each industry has its particular needs but also it’s easier for us to compare the companies. In 2017, it was the skills gap, this year it is agribusiness and we are in the middle of that accelerator. Next year, our accelerator will be in rural manufacturing.

TBP: Which countries are currently benefitting from Upaya’s accelerator program?

KC: India currently is our main focus, but we will be moving to other countries in the future.

TBP: What kind of jobs are generated when Upaya invests in India?

KC: We have made 14 investments that have created just under 9000 jobs. The jobs are quite varied across our portfolio.

For example, we have an investment in a waste management company in Bangalore that has built a model of forming teams to separate recycled old material from landfill waste in a very efficient way. These teams are located on corporate campuses, and so people who are employed in doing this have a full time 40-hour week, traditional wage jobs. At the same time, the company also provides reliable income for rag pickers, who have worked highly exploitative and dangerous environments in the past. The firm provides reliable, formal employment and also trains them on how to collect this material in a safe way. Such jobs are reliable jobs and help in creating a reliable living.

And this is just one company. There is a lot of diversity in the jobs created. But what we look at to be called a job – we want to know that the individual who is doing this is able to earn an income, at least a minimum of six months a year, that is high enough to move them beyond extreme poverty.

TBP: How do you measure the success of your partner enterprises at ground level?

KC: Sachi Shenoy, our co-founder, leads a practice to get to the job holder level and conduct surveys to see whether their income level is changing. We track household income, living standards, quality of their house, whether their children are going to school and other things.

TBP: What are the challenges that you face in countries like India that has a large population living in poverty?

KC: We face the same challenges really that our partners face since we are very invested in their success. Challenges would be like the changes in the central government policies, like when the GST came out or the demonetization happened. But even with the challenges, the good part of working in India is that it remains a huge market that can grow very quickly.

Deena Zaidi

Photo: Flickr

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

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

Leila Velez

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

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

Jimena Flórez

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

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

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

Marian Villa Roldán

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

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

Success for Female Entrepreneurs in Latin America

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

– Jonathon Ayers
Photo: Flickr

Eco-Friendly Measures Combat Poverty
A common complaint about pro-environment actions is the cost they pose to the economy. But worldwide, eco-friendly measures combat poverty in new and sustainable ways. A clear link exists between environmental degradation and poverty, as a feedback loop is created between the two circumstances: by focusing on the environment, the world’s poor can also benefit. Several strategies have already been implemented with proven results that demonstrate that environmentalism can benefit the impoverished.

Five Ways Environmentalism Fights Poverty

  1. Green Energy Provides Jobs and Protects Health
    Green energy provides new jobs and opens up markets that were previously not beneficial. Additionally, according to The World Bank, pollution “stunts economic growth and exacerbates poverty and inequality in both urban and rural areas.” Poor people often feel the effects of pollution most severely since they cannot afford measures to protect themselves. Green energy lessens pollution and can provide relief to suffering communities.
  2. Environment Affects Livelihoods
    More than 1 billion people worldwide depend, to some extent, on forest-based assets for their livelihood. Low-income countries feel the effects of environmental problems more intensely, as environment-based wealth accounts for 25 percent of total wealth in such areas. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, warring parties depleted natural resources so that, according to the U.N. Security Counsel’s 2001 discussion, “The only loser in this huge business venture is the Congolese people.” Eco-friendly measures combat poverty in these cases by ensuring a community’s source of income does not disappear.
  3. Sustainable Farming 
    Globally, cooperatives have arisen that have produced organic food for markets everywhere and “revitalized traditional agricultural systems with new technologies.” Low-income communities producing organic and fair-trade coffee like this have created a rapidly growing niche market that is both sustainable and environmentally conscious. Additionally, many industries can create sustainable jobs for lower-income individuals by focusing on the environment. A Madagascar shrimp processing company created 1,200 permanent new jobs and focuses on keeping those jobs long-term by ensuring that the shrimp population in the area remains healthy. Such policies benefit all parties involved: the company, the environment and the impoverished.
  4. Recycling and Reusing Resources 
    A substantial concern in impoverished countries is developing ways to reuse scarce resources such as water. 99 percent of the time, death due to not enough water or unsafe water takes place in developing countries. In India, the company Banka BioLoo is placing more than 300,000 eco-friendly toilets in low-income areas, which creates jobs and eliminates harmful waste while providing desperately needed sanitation. The by-products of their system include water for gardening and methane gas for fuel. This innovative design is just one of many examples of how eco-friendly measures combat poverty and can improve human health.
  5. Helping Stop Exploitation of the Poor
    Governments can play a big role in combating poverty and protecting the environment with just one action. Corruption can often lead to inter-country conflict, which harms both the environment and the poor. Access to information and legal frameworks, as well as sanctions imposed by organizations like the U.N., can improve the situation in areas plagued by corruption.

These efforts require the non-poor and poor to work together. Since the non-poor have higher consumption levels, the degradation of the environment by poor people is often “due to the poor being denied their rights to natural resources by wealthier elites and, in many cases, being pushed onto marginal lands more prone to degradation.” However, the situation promises hope for the future; by working together, wealthier people have the ability to reduce environmental threats, and poor people often have the technical ability to manage resources. Together, these eco-friendly measures combat poverty.

– Grace Gay
Photo: Flickr