Sign Up Early for SB'24 San Diego and Save! Spring Rate Ends June 23rd.

Collaboration
UN-Backed Initiative Uses Market-Based Approach To Fight Global Poverty

The UN-supported anti-poverty program Business Call to Action (BCtA) recently announced a new set of commitments to provide income-earning opportunities and expand access to services such as mobile technology and micro-insurance to disadvantaged populations in Africa and Asia.

The UN-supported anti-poverty program Business Call to Action (BCtA) recently announced a new set of commitments to provide income-earning opportunities and expand access to services such as mobile technology and micro-insurance to disadvantaged populations in Africa and Asia.

After a successful pilot phase, BCtA plans to scale up support for three organizations working to fight poverty abroad: Zoona, MicroEnsure and Honey Care Africa.

Expanding Access to Financial Services in Zambia

As part of the initiative, Zambia-based electronic payments firm Zoona will increase access to financial and payment services to 150,000 low-income customers each month by 2015. Some 86 percent of Zambians lack bank accounts because they cannot afford bank fees or do not have access to a banking branch. This results in a majority of financial transactions involved in the exchange of cash from one party to another.

Recognizing that electronic payments are useful only if they can be liquidated, Zoona has partnered with Kiva to build a cross-country distribution network of agents to convert electronic value to cash and vice versa, in convenient, high-traffic areas such as bus stations, markets and shopping centers. The company says access to consumer payment services will increase personal productivity and decrease the many risks associated with cash transfers.

Providing Affordable Microinsurance in Malaysia

BCtA will help MicroEnsure, a major provider of global microinsurance, to expand mobile-based insurance to an additional 200,000 low- and middle-income consumers in Malaysia, including a new health insurance offering. With nearly 97 percent of the world’s low-income people lacking access to formal insurance services, microinsurance provides a safety net that can keep people from slipping back into poverty in the event of death or disease.

“For microinsurance to be sustainable, it has to be about massive scale,” said Richard Leftley, CEO at MicroEnsure. “For this reason I am most excited about the role that mobile phone networks can play in providing access to millions of people who have yet to have insurance.”

Helping Honey Farmers in Kenya

BCtA also has committed to assisting Honey Care Africa, a social enterprise that helps increase the income of rural farmers in Kenya by up to 20 percent incorporating 40,000 rural families into its supply chain by 2017.

For many Kenyan farmers, income from honey production can mean the difference between poverty or prosperity. The company plans to equip honey producers with high-quality beehives, maintenance tools and expertise while guaranteeing a fair-trade market in which beekeepers can sell their honey, and claims small-scale farmers are likely to see a 15 to 30 percent growth in yield from other crops through increased pollination from healthy bee colonies.

“By adapting business models to the needs of previously under-served consumers and partnering with international organizations, social enterprises such as these are demonstrating longevity and becoming key actors in tackling poverty,” said Sahba Sobhani, Program Manager at BCtA.

“BCtA is excited to support and showcase these unique models of inclusive business, especially given our shared vision as a global initiative that encourages the private sector to help reduce poverty worldwide through market-based approaches,” he added.

In related news, Pepsi recently announced it reached its goal of helping three million people gain access to safe drinking water in Africa, Asia and Latin America two years ahead of schedule and now plans to double its target to helping six million by 2015.

Advertisement

Related Stories

Advertisement