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Will and Jada Smith Together BandTogether Band is an organization that raises money for various causes in an innovative and trendy way aimed at persuading younger generations to support issues they care about most. It works toward the United Nations’ 17 global goals to create a more sustainable world by 2030. Recently, Together Band also partnered with Will and Jada Smith.

Together Band

The U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals include no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality, clean energy, equal education, good health, clean water, economic growth, industry innovation, sustainable communities, responsible consumption and production, marine conservation, land conservation, justice, reduced inequalities and partnership.

Each U.N. SDG has an associated color and Together Band produces bracelets of each color. The bracelet color a customer purchases determines which goal their money targets. Together Band directs proceeds to The Freedom Fund, Renewable World, Women Working Worldwide and Power for the People, among others.

Not only do the proceeds go to humanitarian funds but the materials and production of the bracelets are impactful as well. The clasp on each bracelet is repurposed metal derived from seized illegal firearms in Central America. The aim of this sourcing is to end armed violence in conflict-torn countries. The band is made from 100% upcycled plastic found on shores in coastal communities and on remote islands. Finally, formerly trafficked Nepalese artisans use the materials to craft the final product. The jobs created help communities build stable economies.

Together Fund

Together Band created the Together Fund to combat COVID-19. Now, when a customer purchases a bracelet, 50% of the proceeds go to support COVID-19 relief while the other 50% continue to go to the original organizations that the bracelet supported before the pandemic. The organization splits COVID-19 relief funds between the U.N. COVID-19 Solidarity Fund for WHO and Médecins sans Frontières.

Together Band added COVID-19 relief to their initiatives because communities around the globe urgently need accessible healthcare. “It’s important that we act quickly in response to COVID-19 to ensure patients can access the care they need as well as supporting disease prevention and frontline health workers across the globe.”

Partnering With the Will and Jada Smith Foundation

Celebrities Will and Jada Smith created the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation in 1996 in order to make the world “better because we touched it.” The foundation has donated millions of dollars for innovative solutions to the world’s problems. Recently, the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation partnered with Together Band to tackle both COVID-19 and racial injustice. Working with WJSFF, Together Fund has expanded to support U.N. Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Money can be donated to the fund directly from the WJSFF homepage. Half of the proceeds go to additional COVID-19 relief funds such as the World Health Organization, Alight and Doctors Without Borders. The remaining half supports nonprofits that fight racial injustice. They include My Brother’s Keeper, the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative and the Leadership Conference Education Fund.

In addition, Will and Jada Smith’s son, Jaden Smith, founded an eco-friendly version of bottled water called Just Water. Just Water customers now have the option to round up their purchases in support of the Together Fund.

Overall, the Smiths are an inspiring example of a celebrity family using their fame to support humanitarian causes and reduce global poverty.

Sarah Eichstadt
Photo: Flickr

Decent LifeEgypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi kicked off the first stage of Egypt’s groundbreaking anti-poverty project, the “Decent Life” (Haya Karima) Initiative, at the first conference on July 15, 2021. Al-Sisi declared that this initiative would kickstart “Egypt’s New Republic” especially in the Egyptian countryside. The massive development and resource injection into education and health infrastructure, primarily in rural areas, appears as if it will significantly improve the Egyptian landscape for the future. This initiative comes at a crucial turning point in a country that has struggled significantly with poverty over the past years. Statistics such as how 32.5% of Egyptians reported being below the poverty line in 2019 or how the pandemic has increased the official unemployment rate to 9.6% as of November 2020 highlight Egypt’s difficult poverty battle. However, with the ‘Decent Life’ Initiative in action with its numerous quality components, Egypt’s economy looks to be turning a corner.

Four Pillars

Within the framework of the UN Egypt Vision 2030 Strategy, the initiative consists of four main pillars:
1. To ameliorate living standards and invest in human capital,
2. To grow infrastructure services,
3. To improve human development services,
4. To spur economic development especially by contributing to the poorest villages with increased access to basic services such as sanitation and education infrastructure.

These pillars provide the foundation for how Egypt is tackling poverty in a more assertive manner.

First Phases

Prior to President Al-Sisi establishing the initiative, he launched an unofficial phase of the project in 2019. This came in the form of him pressuring the Minister of Social Solidarity to develop Egypt’s 1,000 poorest villages. After the success of this stage of the process, the official first phase started in January 2021. This first phase expands the number of targeted villages to 4,500, covering 58% of the country’s population.

Since January 2021, the initiative has taken crucial steps in developing Suhag water and sanitation services in 33 villages, renovating transportation stations at a cost of EGP 183 million (almost $12 million), and creating new transportation stations at a cost of EGP 219 million (almost $14 million). This process forms as the initial stages of the 2021-22 plan of the initiative, which carries with it a budget of EGP 200 billion (almost $13 billion).

The 2021-22 plan for the initiative has specific and bold aims that ensure Egypt is tackling poverty in a decisive and thorough manner. Details of the 2021-22 plan include:

  • To set up 10,828 classrooms,
  • To improve 782 youth centers,
  • To renovate 317 public service buildings,
  • To develop 1,250 health care units, establish 389 ambulances and 510 mobile clinics, and 112 veterinary units,
  • To create 191 agricultural service centers.

Final Targets

The “Decent Life” Initiative has several end goals it aims to achieve which President El-Sisi set out. One of the main goals is that the Egyptian government plans to utilize overall investments amounting to EGP 700 billion (almost $45 billion) by the end of the project, demonstrating that Egypt is tackling poverty in an aggressive manner. President El-Sisi has also made the promise that “the Egyptian countryside will be transformed in three years’ time,” signifying an attempt to minimize the rural-urban inequality.

Regarding education and health services, the initiative is aiming to build 13,000 classrooms and activating the new Universal Health Insurance System by the project’s conclusion. The Universal Health Insurance System will consist of mandatory coverage to all citizens by unifying with the private healthcare sector and minimizing existing health insurance disparities.

UN Response

The UN has responded extremely positively to the official launch of the initiative, with the Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, stating that the UN considers the “Decent Life” project at top spot for the best application for sustainable development goals around the world and has full confidence that it will provide essential job opportunities for Egyptians in impoverished areas. Furthermore, the UN has praised the initiative as it also confirms the country’s willingness to “implement the participatory planning approach through integrating citizens in the need’s identification stage.”

–  Gabriel Sylvan

Photo: Flickr

Female Empowerment in PoliticsThe high rate of preventable maternal mortality rates in developing countries continues to be a cause of concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines maternal mortality “as the death of a woman from pregnancy-related causes during pregnancy or within 42 days of pregnancy.” Maternal mortality occurs almost entirely (99%) in low-income countries. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of impoverished countries estimates 239 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. This rate is 12 per 100,000 in high-income countries. Research shows that female empowerment in politics links to reduced maternal mortality rates.

Reasons for High Maternal Mortality in Developing Countries

Female Representation in Government

Global female representation in government has increased to more than 20% while maternal mortality has declined by 44% since 1990. Is this a cause-and-effect scenario or merely coincidence? A recent study titled, “Maternal Mortality and Women’s Political Participation” offers data to support that it is not just happenstance and that female empowerment in politics has a direct effect on maternal mortality levels.

In 2020, female participation in parliament reached 24.9% globally. One reason for the rise in women’s representation in government is the fact that several countries are adopting gender quotas. Gender quotas secure a number of seats in government for women. At least 130 countries have adopted gender quotas and have an average of 26.9% female representation. Countries that have implemented quotas have seen maternal mortality decline at an accelerated rate. Estimates have determined that gender quota application results in an average of a 9-12% drop in maternal mortality.

Female Policymakers Prioritize Women’s Health

Health is a vital contributing factor in empowering women. Women statistically prioritize policies aimed at improving female conditions at a higher rate than their male counterparts. These policies often target issues such as education, child marriage and maternal health. Countries with gender quotas in place show an estimated 8-11% rise in “skilled birth attendance” and a 6-11% rise in the use of prenatal care.

A paper that Cambridge University published in 2016 asserted that an increase of only 1% in women’s representation in government resulted in five fewer maternal deaths and 80 fewer infant deaths out of 100,000 live births. These studies and statistics conclude that women’s participation in legislatures improves the health of its female constituents.

Eradicating Maternal Mortality

Female empowerment in politics contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Sustainable Development Goals, which the U.N. established, include reducing maternal mortality (SDG 3.1) and increasing the number of women in government (SDG 5.5). These goals are complementary to each other. By working toward SDG 5.5, which is to “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life,” it is reasonable to conclude that the world could achieve, SDG 3.1, which is to “reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births” by 2030, in tandem.

Rachel Proctor
Photo: Flickr

Updates on SDG Goal 10 in ArgentinaIn Argentina, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic unrest has stalled efforts to close the inequality gap. Before the pandemic hit, Argentina was making progress on a series of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is a framework of global objectives created by the United Nations, designed as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” by 2030. The country was “well-positioned” compared to its Latin American counterparts, according to the Argentine Network for International Cooperation (RACI). The onset of COVID-19 has impacted updates on SDG Goal 10 in Argentina.

Achieving SDG 10: Reducing Inequality

Argentina had been struggling to achieve SDG 10, which focuses on reducing inequalities within a county’s population and among different countries around the world. To measure inequality, the SDGs use a scale of 0 to 100. The lower the score, the closer the country is to achieving economic equality. The goal is to achieve a ranking of 30 or lower by 2030. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Argentina had a ranking of 51. The pandemic has siphoned resources out of the government and stalled updates on SDG Goal 10 in Argentina and other progressive reforms. On top of that, millions of Argentinians have lost their jobs and inequality is expanding as a result.

President Alberto Fernández

In December 2019, President Alberto Fernández won the presidential election over conservative incumbent, Mauricio Macri. President Fernández’s political style is that of his mentor, former president, Néstor Kirchner. However, “the COVID-19 pandemic might very well shatter the center-left president’s dreams of following in his mentor’s footsteps and bringing social progress and economic growth to Argentina,” writes Hugo Goeury.

Despite Fernandez’s progressive goals for his administration, reforms have all been put on the back burner since the arrival of COVID-19 in Argentina.

Poverty, Unemployment and the Wealth Gap

In the first half of 2020 alone, the poverty rate among Argentinians increased to almost 41%, the Americas Society/Council of the Americas reported, nearly a 5% increase from the previous year. The Central Bank is also predicting the GDP to contract by nearly 11%.

With almost a third of Argentine workers facing unemployment, President Fernandez is scrambling to financially support his unemployed constituents, while also negotiating the country’s debt owed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to the World Inequality Database, as of 2019, the top 10% wealthiest Argentinians controlled nearly 40% of the country’s income, while the bottom 50% only possessed 17.9% of the nation’s income.

Better Days Ahead for Argentina

Even though updates on SDG Goal 10 in Argentina seem especially challenging right now, Argentinians are still
pushing forward to make their country more equitable for everyone. The U.N. says, “In the post-pandemic world, Argentina must strengthen its productive apparatus and continue to eliminate inherited social inequities and those aggravated by COVID-19.”

– Laney Pope
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Private Sector JobsThe private sector makes up nine out of 10 jobs in the global market and with about 735 million people living at or below the extreme poverty line, it is essential that this vulnerable population has access to private sector jobs. The private sector, also known as the citizen sector, is owned by private corporations rather than the government and companies all around the world make up the majority of the economy with private sector jobs. Companies within the private sector can greatly benefit from providing people living in poverty with jobs as an investment that will lead to global poverty reduction.

The Role of the Private Sector in Poverty Reduction

It is crucial that the private sector takes responsibility for providing jobs, even in situations that require extensive training and infrastructure, as an investment in people living in poverty will lead to competition within the market as well as exponential growth within the company. The Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC) created a toolkit to provide private sector companies with the skills and knowledge necessary to reduce poverty through employment. This toolkit outlines the benefits of workplace inclusion for people living in extreme poverty, not only from an economic standpoint but as a social responsibility as well. Outlined in the toolkit is the importance of networking and creating opportunities for people to fight poverty.

Microlending as a Poverty Reduction Tool

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) prioritizes microlending from the private sector as a source of poverty alleviation. Microlending is the act of loaning out very small amounts of money to self-employed individuals living in developing countries by banks and institutions. The FEE highlights a famous example of this, Grameen Bank, founded by Muhammed Yunus in Bangladesh in 1983. The Grameen Bank makes loans of $30 to $200 per person and has been able to reach millions, majority of whom are females who use the money to buy supplies in order to make and distribute their products. This is just one example of private sector work being done to connect people with limited access to resources to the job market and create opportunities.

Social Impact Matters

Traditionally, poverty has been a focus of governments rather than private companies and institutions, however, recently, partnerships between these two have been sought as the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals are focused on poverty alleviation. These partnerships between governments and private organizations are focused in areas of development, education, health, agriculture and climate change, all of which prioritize private sector jobs to fight poverty. One motivation for the private sector to participate in expanding its labor force to vulnerable communities is that of reducing reputational risks and beneficial brand awareness. PYXERA Global looks into the opportunities provided by public-private partnerships through the lens of economic development and explains that customers are now more than ever likely to consider the social impact of a specific company when it comes to purchasing products.

Social Responsibilities of the Private Sector

In order for private sector jobs to fight poverty, it is essential that organizations and corporations take social responsibility to invest in vulnerable populations that will lead to long-term positive impacts for the global economy. Strategies to employ impoverished communities in the private sector workforce have already been put in place and will continue to be essential in both alleviating poverty and expanding the global economy.

– Caroline Pierce
Photo: Flickr

Public Development BanksIn November 2020, the world’s 450 Public Development Banks (PDBs) gathered at the first-ever global summit, the Finance in Common Summit. The summit emphasized that PDBs have an essential role in meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that encompasses both short-term responses and sustainable recovery measures. The commitment of PDBs to a joint effort in support of vulnerable communities around the world is an unprecedented step toward inclusive global development.

Public Development Banks

Public Development Banks are essential to the global economy and play a key role in fighting extreme poverty and hunger by bridging finance and public policy. PDBs are supported or controlled by governments but are legally and financially independent. Investments by PDBs made up 10% of yearly public and private investments in 2018, though all PDB investments are public, allowing the banks to openly and actively direct finances toward the evolution of international economic order and inclusion of declining countries with fewer limitations. This makes PDBs especially effective at supporting change for institutions, economies and infrastructure that reflects their public mandate to work in favor of entrepreneurs and vulnerable groups, such as women and children. None of the financing done by PDBs is related to consumers, individual accounts or credit.

A Cause for Cooperation

Conditions in areas suffering from extreme poverty are declining due to climate change and COVID-19. Developing countries have limited capacity to adapt their unstable agricultural methods and systems to changing climates. The capacity that does exist, including aid received, has been strained by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic and social issues that accompany it. Common hardships have shed light on the need for united relief efforts that reach all regions and societies, and Public Development Banks have taken action by joining in unprecedented discussion and collective decisionmaking. The desired outcome was a diverse and collaborative movement to achieve the SDGs and respond to the challenges arising from COVID-19 and climate change.

The Future of PDB Financing

The developments made at the Finance in Common summit are clearly communicated in a joint declaration made by all 450 PDBs. The Public Development Banks came to a consensus for aligned strategies and investments that will support sustainable growth in societies and the global economy, all while prioritizing eco-friendliness. Future activity of PDBs will be targeted at attaining the SDGs and responding to a changing climate. Another outcome of the summit was a group of PDBs that will focus investments on rural sectors and agriculture around the world to help eradicate poverty and hunger.

Steps that PDBs have committed to taking together include transitioning investments to support low-carbon and climate-resilient solutions, renewable and clean energy and ecosystem restoration. Also on the global PDB agenda is improving the accessibility of education, housing, hygiene and sanitation as well as advancing social and financial inclusion. These measures were developed with the world’s most vulnerable in mind: young people and the elderly, members of rural communities, refugees and small-scale producers, among others. The alliance of PDBs is dedicated to achieving these goals while upholding best practices in finance and global inclusion.

PDBs Fighting Global Poverty

Public Development Banks have displayed a capacity to serve as leaders in the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. Their landmark summit can be a model for future progress toward equality in all parts of the world. In the middle of widespread crisis and instability, such international cooperation is needed more than ever.

– Payton Unger
Photo: Flickr


Gender equality in the Dominican Republic has been shown by the Sustainable Development Report to be on the rise and on its way to achieving and maintaining the SDG quota for achievement. Of the four criteria to meet, the The Dominican Republic has met two. But is the Dominican Republic truly the progressive country it is touting itself to be?

Gender Equality and Domestic Violence

Although by SDG’s empirical data, the Dominican Republic is a progressive country when it comes to gender equality, there are still many cultural norms that keep women being truly equal to the opposite gender. The country has a high rate of violence against girls and women, as well as a high rate of maternal mortality and teen pregnancy. It took until January 2010 for the Dominican Republic to amend its constitution to make it more inclusive and favorable for women. This includes Article 39, which condemns domestic and gender-based violence. Perhaps the most iconic and historic act of gender-based violence occurred when the Mirabal Sisters were murdered under the orders of Trujillo because of their public dissent against the dictator.

Over the past two years, there have been over 15,000 reported cases of domestic violence against women in the capital city of Santo Domingo, this makes domestic violence 23% of the reported crimes in the city – the most reported crime. 46% of the femicides reported in the last year were results of domestic violence. Before January 1997, when the law against domestic violence was enacted, domestic violence was legal and was not considered a violation of human rights. Wealth and social standing do not make women immune to domestic violence. Even women of higher social strata are beaten and abused by their husbands, who use their wealth and power to send them out the country to hide their misdeeds.

Sex Trafficking

Another problem plaguing the women in Quisqueya is sex trafficking. According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Department of State, while the Dominican Republic is making significant efforts to eliminate sex trafficking, it does not meet the minimum standard to eradicate sex trafficking. Like in many other areas of governing, the country has shown effort and improvement but not enough to make significant headway. The efforts included convicting more traffickers and doling out more severe penalties to traffickers, enacting a national action plan and increasing the effort to combat labor trafficking. However, the government did not meet these standards in some areas, such as investigating and prosecuting and then issuing inadequate sentences to those of convicted. Not only did the Dominican government fail at prosecuting the criminals, but it also failed the victims of trafficking. The government did not offer enough specialized services to assist the victims.

Foreign Organizations Stepping In

While the Dominican government itself is failing its women, foreign organizations are attempting to combat domestic violence and sex trafficking. The United Nation’s Women charter (UN Women) has worked to mainstream gender in national planning and policymaking by providing assistance, support and advice to the Dominican government. They have been developing strategies and instruments to interject gender in plans, programming and projects in all levels of government. UN Women also plans on closing gender gaps in social protection and security. Together with the United Nations Development Programme, International Labour Organization, UN Women has contributed to and promoted investigation and analysis into the social protection of women. The purpose of gender protection is to overcome social inequalities. It also promotes gender equality and women’s rights through advocacy campaigns which include the Beijing+20 platform and HeForShe, hosting workshops with civil society organizations, distributing information through social media and national events. UN Women established their training center in the Dominican Republic where it offers high-quality training for gender equality by offering courses, tools and services on topics like gender-based violence, the care economy and masculinity.

United States Government Recommendations

The United States Department of State has recommended various ways to combat sex trafficking. The State Department recommends that the government convict traffickers indiscriminately including government officials, fully fund, and implement a new national action plan. They also need to provide adequate support, resources and training to combat trafficking, especially in areas outside of Santo Domingo. The Department of State recommends implementing protocols to identify adult and child trafficking victims and get them protective services. It suggests that the Dominican government amend the 2003 anti-trafficking law so that proving force, fraud and coercion in victims under the age of 18 are no longer required; thus joining the international stage when it comes to sex trafficking.

The Dominican government’s response when it comes to victims of sex trafficking has been abysmal. The government has reportedly spent $545,500DOM when it comes to victim assistance, this equals to $10,920USD. NGOs have stated that victims’ services were “… ad hoc, minimal, and not well coordinated or specialized.”

Looking Forward

With so many members of the international community offering aid and advice on how to combat sex trafficking, it will be interesting to see of the new PRM administration under President Luis Abinader will continue to reject assistance or finally embrace it.

– Pedro Vega
Photo: Flickr

Certified B Corporation
Business Fights Poverty, a Certified B Corporation, began in 2005 to provide a network for businesses, organizations and other professionals. This organization believes in the principle of purposeful collaboration. It aims to unite influential businesses to add social change to the list of successes of groups across the world. Business Fights Poverty recognizes the underlying potential of uniting worldwide businesses to battle social issues such as poverty. Business Fights Poverty has implemented several influential actions during 2020. Here are four impressive examples of actions that Business Fights Poverty has taken to combat global poverty:

4 Initiatives of Business Fights Poverty During 2020

  1. Business Fights Poverty created a network of more than 28,000 businesses and organizations fighting poverty. The staff and content creators of this Certified B Corporation span across the globe. Moreover, this organization has a long list of partners with global influence. Among these partners are Walmart, Nestlé, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Visa. Business Fights Poverty also partnered with content creating organizations to expand the reach of its content. Also, this is to increase collaboration among organizations fighting for social change. This extensive network of partners allows Business Fights Poverty to collaborate with organizations that hold different business goals and different content creators, to increase awareness surrounding global poverty.
  2. Business Fights Poverty holds free online conferences with influential business leaders to educate people on collaborative impact. Easily accessible from its website, Business Fights Poverty releases a weekly calendar of live-streamed conferences and webinars. Additionally, a major perk here is that if people cannot watch these conferences in real-time, they can watch them on the website. Previous conferences include discussions with business professors from Harvard University and the University of Oxford about the relation between social inequality and poverty. The future ones include discussions with members of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City. These free conferences provide an accessible way for people across the globe to educate themselves and learn from influential leaders in business, education and other Certified B Corporations.
  3. Business Fights Poverty offers opportunities for individuals to contribute to its website via content creation or discussion forums. The idea of collaboration spans further than collaboration among worldwide businesses. Business Fights Poverty offers numerous ways for any individual to collaborate. For instance, the ability to apply for freelance work and online forums of open discussion with experts in different fields. This again serves as a way for individuals to educate themselves through discussion with professionals. Additionally, it allows them to delve deeper into becoming involved with the organization. Business Fights Poverty makes its purposeful collaboration accessible through a few clicks on its website. This has contributed to its growth in global partners.
  4. Business Fights Poverty motivates contributors and partners to move towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Sustainable Development Goals are 17 goals developed by the U.N. to foster a more sustainable, global future. Two of these goals include no poverty and zero hunger. Business Fights Poverty considers one of its organization challenges as advancing toward a world that reaches these goals. By advocating for this change, the organization contributes to a global plan to combat poverty and hunger. The SDGs remain a focus in the conversation and content present on Business Fights Poverty’s website.

The Outcomes

The major outcomes of Business Fights Poverty have been reflected in the businesses and corporations it collaborates with. For example, since its involvement with Business Fights Poverty, Walmart paid its full-time workers $3 above the living wage of an adult in the U.S. in 2019. Also, it has the goal of training millions of employees in career growth strategies by 2025. Since 2015, Visa has assisted over 160,000 lower-income individuals in creating accounts and becoming involved in the financial system. Moreover, Business Fights Poverty has created a network of awareness. The actions of these major corporations set a positive example for customers and smaller businesses. This example urges people to stay aware and improve their strategies to assist those battling poverty, among other personal financial struggles.

Business Fights Poverty recognizes the impact that a Certified B Corporation, large-scale businesses and general corporations can have on battling the poverty crisis. Through education, collaboration and progress towards a common goal — this organization has dedicated itself to making a social change. As the network grows from its already substantial start, businesses can find success in assisting in the fight to combat world hunger and poverty. Finally, as for individuals, the organization’s website offers many ways to get involved that are worth exploring.

Evan Coleman
Photo: Flickr

Business Fights Poverty
Business Fights Poverty began in 2005 with the goal of providing a network for businesses, organizations and other professionals. This organization believes in the principle of purposeful collaboration and aims to unite influential businesses to add social change to the list of successes across the world. The poverty-fighting organization also recognizes the underlying potential of uniting worldwide businesses to battle social issues such as poverty. Its actions have been influential during 2020. Here are four impressive examples of actions Business Fights Poverty has taken to combat global poverty.

Global Network

Business Fights Poverty created a network of over 28,000 businesses and organizations fighting poverty: In addition to its staff and content creators spanning across the globe, this organization has a long list of partners with global influence. Among these partners are Walmart, Nestlé, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Visa. The poverty-fighting organization has also partnered with content creating organizations to expand the reach of its content and increase collaboration among organizations fighting for social change. This extensive network of partners allows Business Fights Poverty to collaborate their views of organizations with different business goals and different content creators to increase awareness surrounding global poverty.

Educator on Social Inequality and Poverty

The organization also holds free online conferences with influential leaders in business to educate on collaborative impact. Easily accessible from its website, Business Fights Poverty releases a weekly calendar of live-streamed conferences and webinars. A major perk here is that if one is unable to watch these conferences in real-time, they are recorded and uploaded to the website. Previous conferences include discussions with business professors from Harvard University and the University of Oxford about the relation between social inequality and poverty. Future talks include discussions with members of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Therefore, these free conferences provide an accessible way for people across the globe to educate themselves and learn from influential leaders in business and education.

Individual Contribution Opportunities

The global network also offers opportunities for individuals to contribute to its site through content creation or on discussion forums. The idea of collaboration spans further than collaboration among worldwide businesses. Business Fights Poverty offers numerous ways for any individual to collaborate, such as the ability to apply for freelance work and online forums of open discussion with experts in different fields. This again serves as a way for individuals to educate themselves through discussion with professionals. It also allows them to delve deeper into becoming involved with the organization. The organizations also makes its purposeful collaboration accessible through a few clicks on its websites.

Progress in SDGs

The company also motivates contributors and partners to move towards Sustainable Development Goals. The U.N. developed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to foster a more sustainable global future. Two of these goals include no poverty and zero hunger. Business Fights Poverty considers one of its challenges as advancing toward a world that reaches these goals. By advocating for this change, the organization is able to contribute to a global plan to combat poverty and hunger. The Sustainable Development Goals remain a focus in the conversation and content present on Business Fights Poverty’s website.

Outcomes

The major outcomes of Business Fights Poverty have reflected in the businesses and corporations it has collaborated with. For example, since its involvement with Business Fights Poverty, Walmart paid its full-time workers $3 above what people consider to be a living wage of an adult in the U.S. in 2019 and has the goal of training millions of employees in career growth strategies by 2025. Since 2015, Visa has assisted over 160,000 lower-income individuals in creating accounts and becoming involved in the financial system. Business Fights Poverty has created a network of awareness. The actions of these major corporations set a positive example for customers and smaller businesses to improve their strategies to assist those battling poverty.

In conclusion, Business Fights Poverty recognizes the impact that large scale businesses and corporations can have on battling the poverty crisis. Through education, collaboration and progress towards a common goal, this organization has dedicated itself to making a social change. As the network continues to grow, businesses can find success in assisting the fight to combat world hunger and poverty. As for individuals, this organization’s website offers many ways to get involved that are worth exploring.

Evan Coleman
Photo: Flickr

poverty alleviation in muslim majority communitiesZakat refers to the religious obligation for all Muslim individuals to donate a set percentage of their income each year to charitable causes. Due to the size of the global Muslim population, zakat could play a major role in poverty alleviation in Muslim-majority communities around the globe. Muslims make up about 22% of the world’s population. However, estimates suggest that roughly 35% of the 2 billion people facing poverty worldwide are in Muslim-majority countries. In their 2014 study on zakat, Isahaque Ali and Zulkarnain Hatta reported that over half of the population in Muslim countries are very poor. Further, the regions of the world with the most significant Muslim populations, including Africa and Asia, are facing increasing poverty levels.

What Is the Purpose of Zakat?

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. As such, it is mandatory for all Muslims who have the means to meet their basic annual needs. Zakat is generally set at a minimum amount of 2.5% of income and total wealth. Muslims believe that giving zakat purifies the giver. Megan Abbas, assistant professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization at Colgate University, spoke to The Borgen Project about zakat.

“The Arabic term ‘zakat’ can be loosely translated as purification, a fact that helps us understand the spiritual components of this practice,” Abbas said. “Specifically, giving zakat is often seen as a way to purify the soul of selfishness and to remind Muslims that their worldly wealth is not really theirs at all but rather exists thanks to the mercy and kindness of God.”

Many Muslims see poverty as both a social and religious problem. As a result, giving zakat aims to alleviate poverty and achieve socio-economic justice. Further, the Quran explains that zakat should reach certain groups of people in need. This includes those who have no or few means of livelihood, zakat workers, new Muslims, those who are indebted, stranded travelers and enslaved people.

“Zakat is also tied to Islamic conceptions of egalitarianism and socio-economic justice because it mandates economic redistribution from the wealthy to the marginalized and poor every year,” Abbas said. “This redistributive function complements other aspects of Islamic economics, including the prohibition on interest-bearing loans and exhortations to engage only in fair and transparent business contracts.”

The Potential Impact of Zakat

Zakat is an underutilized resource for poverty alleviation in Muslim-majority communities and non-Muslim communities around the world. The Guardian reported that zakat is one of the largest redistributions of wealth. Estimates suggest that between $200 billion and $1 trillion goes to zakat annually. In comparison, experts predict that ending global poverty would cost only $175 billion per year for 20 years. As states within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation increase their amount of humanitarian aid to 14%, zakat will rise. As such, the potential of zakat for poverty alleviation in Muslim-majority communities increases as well.

Noor and Pickup of The Guardian believe zakat address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This would help meet the $2.5 to $3 trillion annual funding gap to achieve the SDGs. Importantly, this aligns with zakat’s socio-economic goals. The World Bank also acknowledges the potential of Islamic financing to achieve the SDGs. Specifically, zakat can help by closing financing gaps and building affordable housing with the help of technology to organize zakat funds.

How Zakat Can Help Fight Global Poverty

The Guardian reported that only one-quarter of global zakat goes to formal donations. In fact, Muslims give the majority of zakat individually and casually. This leaves an opportunity for a more organized donation system. Such a system could have a greater, sustained impact on poverty alleviation in Muslim-majority communities.

There are a variety of ways to collect formal zakat. One way is through the government, in a system that may resemble a tax or state collection directly from bank accounts. Organized zakat could also go through independent collection agencies specific to a chosen cause. Finally, mosques could collect funds to spend themselves or redistribute to other organizations.

Chloe Stirk of Development Initiatives outlines important steps to increase the impact of zakat. Stirk promotes greater collaboration between humanitarian organizations, Islamic scholars and academics. This would improve collection and distribution as well as increase revenue. In addition, Stirk’s process encourages more tracking and documentation of zakat. This could create a zakat fund, allowing for streamlined distribution locally and internationally. However, the logistical and ideological challenges of streamlining zakat extend beyond the global Muslim community.

In the Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, three researchers propose that zakat could best be used in a “small business entrepreneurial framework.” Instead of a zakat fund, they suggest global interest in entrepreneurship to address poverty. Few entrepreneurs in the Muslim world make this an ideal space for development.

Demonstrated Success of Zakat

Case studies on zakat funds show immense success and powerful potential in poverty alleviation in Muslim-majority communities. Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, demonstrates this. There, zakat has an estimated value of 1.59% and 3.82% of the country’s GDP. This equates to $13.8 billion to $33.2 billion each year.

Indonesia has already begun to incorporate zakat into poverty alleviation systems with two centralized zakat organizations. As a result, zakat is an essential method of redistributing wealth to support those in poverty in Indonesia. Further, the amount of zakat collected by institutions continues to rise. Indonesia’s success with zakat suggests that this is a promising method of poverty alleviation in Muslim-majority communities worldwide.

– Emily Rahhal
Photo: Flickr