In the ongoing effort to alleviate global poverty, many entrepreneurs focus on solutions that address social, cultural and economic challenges within a community or region. International organizations and institutions provide funding to developing countries to improve infrastructure, policy and services. All of this, in hopes of solving large-scale problems like poverty. However, perhaps the most powerful way to reduce global poverty is by focusing on the entrepreneurial spirit in developing countries. One such organization, Kountable, delivers goods and employment to emerging markets to reduce poverty.
All About Kountable
Kountable is a global trade organization that aims to interrupt generational poverty in developing countries by overcoming financial obstacles. It is these barriers that are hindering the fruition of small companies. Kountable provides funding and professional development opportunities to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that would otherwise lack access to the global market economy due to institutional barriers.
By combining “local knowledge with global expertise,” Kountable connects and fosters trade relationships between “large global suppliers… local SMEs, logistics providers, banks, and buyers from government, NGOs, and the largest multilateral institutions and foundations”.
The goal is to “bring the right goods to the right places on time” says Kountable President and Co-founder, Catherine Nomura. Another valuable aspect of Kountable is the multifaceted nature of its approach. For example, the organization collaborates with micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in many industries — including healthcare, education and information and communications technology.
Financial Opportunities for MSMEs
Julian Kyula, entrepreneur and founder of MODE (Mobile Decisions) from Nairobi, Kenya, explains the challenges faced by SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa and how Kountable’s strategy can reduce poverty. Kyula founded MODE in 2010 as a technology platform cooperating with telephone companies to distribute small mobile loans. While Kyula was fortunate to overcome financial obstacles, he reveals that, since banks do not often invest in startup businesses, about 70% of MSMEs “in emerging markets lack access to credit” and are therefore unable to grow. These obstacles tend to stifle the entrepreneurial spirit in developing countries.
Furthermore, the overall lack of financial opportunities hits MSMEs especially hard in developing countries. This is because SMEs create on average, 70% of jobs in emerging markets. Also, they represent 90% of businesses worldwide. The global workforce is growing at a rate that would require an additional 600 million jobs by 2030. Importantly, SMEs are expected to be a prime supplier of these jobs.
Researchers define micro-enterprises as organizations consisting of less than 20 workers and associate these businesses with lower poverty rates, especially in rural areas. Smaller and medium-sized enterprises can provide job opportunities and mobility within the workforce. SMEs benefit local communities, unlike massive corporations that often move to rural towns but lack the structural systems to lift regions from poverty into economic prosperity. Representing another reason that the entrepreneurial spirit in developing countries is so important for poverty reduction.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, another challenge small businesses face is acquiring the U.S. dollars needed to secure essential health goods (PPE equipment, ventilators, masks, testing materials, hospital beds, etc.). Kountable identifies this currency struggle as the “trade before the trade,” and its commitment to funding MSMEs helps small businesses avoid this particular challenge.
The Doing Business in Africa Award
Kountable recently won runner-up for NABC’s 2018 Doing Business in Africa Award, making history by being the first, global trade network ever nominated for this award. Kountable’s success in delivering goods and employment to emerging markets has confirmed its credibility as an innovative solution. Alleviating global poverty and generating wealth by supporting small businesses.
– Nye Day
Photo: Wikimedia Commons