World Bank – a Call for Ideas on Eradicating Poverty

The World Bank has started a blog to crowdsource for ideas on eradicating poverty: Social Media at the World Bank: Tell Us What It Will Take To Eradicate Poverty. I first heard about this on CNN a few days ago. I did not even realise it was the mission of the World Bank to eradicate poverty – we don’t normally hear a lot about this organisation. Apparently the new head of the World Bank, Jim Yong, Kim is working at cutting out bureaucracy and getting the World Bank staff all excited about eradicating poverty more quickly than the approximately 1%p.a. rate that has been achieved over the last years.

There are a number of comments already on the page, but I thought I would think about this myself. A few ideas come to mind regarding what has worked well in recent years:

Philanthropy

I have been impressed by what I have heard about the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, run by Bill and Melinda Gates – e.g. providing vaccines to the poor and helping farmers increase yield on vegetation by testing soil samples. Encouraging great philanthropic efforts from the well-to-do and resourceful will certainly have a far-reaching impact.

Microfinance

Microfinance, promoted by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus, with Grameen Bank was very successful in bringing people out of poverty, especially women in coutries like Bangladesh. He wrote the well publicised book, Banker to the Poor and other books.

Social Enterprise

Social enterprises such as KIVA source for donations for many projects to help the poor.

The book “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” by C.K. Prahalad gave many great examples of how simple enterprises help increase income for the poor from zero on some days to something meaningful. An example is an initiave to provide fishermen with access to mobile phones that helped them work out where to fish each day depending on the weather.

Education

Education is a way out of the poverty trap. The nature of education has changed today and can be revolutionised with more thought. Even in the developed world, ideas like home schooling have become a reality. With the internet and social networks, the reach of education may be increased manifold. Equiping poor regions with computers and developing online programs may help accelerate the rate of education in these far out poor regions.

Other

Apart from this, we sometimes hear about inefficiencies in the system, corruption, difficulties in reaching poor regions because of poor infrastructure, etc. Progress must be made to root out inefficiencies and corruption where these exist.

I shall post these thoughts of mine in the World Bank’s site. Friends in the blogging community and elsewhere – do you have ideas about this? Do share them on the World Bank’s site at the link above.

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