The business of poverty

  • Richard Sambrook
  • 25 Jan 07, 08:41 AM

A lot of the most interesting things are to be discovered on the edges of the conference. I went to a breakfast this morning hosted by a Silicon Valley technology company, Applied Materials, who sponsor technology awards for "social entrepreneurs" making a difference in the developing world. Among those honoured: Kickstart, a company which produces cheap manual pumps for small farmers in Kenya and Tanzania to irrigate their land and start to produce crops all year round; the Barefoot College, which teaches women from poor communities around the world to become solar energy engineers and go back to bring power to their villages; the Fritz Institute which helps improve the distribution of aid in disasters; Gram Vikas which works in the poorest parts of India providing solar pumps to improve sanitation; the Freeplay Foundation which provides robust wind-up radios to remote parts of Africa. All great projects making a tangible difference in the world. There followed an interesting discussion about how the skills of Silicon valley can be used to support development.

Davos is also a great place to launch things. Yesterday the UNHCR with Nike and Microsoft launched - a new campaign to provide education and sport to the worlds nine million refugee children.

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I believe this sort of conference can inspire the organisations which are working for the upliftment of the poor and women. More and more big companies or organisation should come forward to help the needy people and such organisations which are working for a cause.

Social entrepreneurs are making big difference in the word today. I living proof that governments can do much more.

  • 3.
  • At 10:59 AM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Jason wrote:

Very inspiring! When we focus on the fact that we have the power the problems of the world become challenges. Thanks for your reporting

  • 4.
  • At 11:11 AM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • lwilliam12 wrote:

I think people need to start relying on themselves more and not the government. Countries/governments survive on the back of the poor, why can't the poor survive of their own backs.

That's social responsibility in action. Just one of Nike and Microsoft's way of giving back to community. At least companies like them support these projects. What a fitting way of keeping children off the streets by providing education and sports.

Iwilliam12 says;
'Countries/governments survive on the back of the poor, why can't the poor survive of their own backs.'

What on earth are you trying to say!? The poor need the help of the wealthy, such as so-called social entrepreneurs because they don't have the necessary resources to lift them out of poverty that you take for granted. Sometimes a technology, even a fairly simply one can make all the difference for clean water or to provide a source of power. It's not asking much.

  • 7.
  • At 12:25 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Debbie Davies wrote:

I'm really sceptical about who benefits when wealthy organisations do things in the name of the poor. I live in Oxford, England where the SKOLL CENTRE FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP is based. It is a very wealthy organisation with a $7.5million charitable donation. There are always homeless people begging outside the building since it happens to be located next to the rail station. Last night it was freezing. I gave my gloves (which I'd bought for 99p) to a young homeless person begging outside the centre. I could see his hands were freezing. I just don't have any faith in an organisation that lets people outside its building freeze while sitting on $7.5million in a very warm and luxurious environment.

  • 8.
  • At 12:34 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Vinay wrote:

The question is who should help them? If we let it go, how can these people ever come out of poverty. If Davos attendees are making 'Global Warming' a priority for 2007 then they are looking at the wrong end of the telescope.The global hot spots still remain unresolved economically, militarily, politically, and academically. 1. Iraq (Dark with no depth) 2. Africa (One of the beautiful countries but millions of people dying) 3. Palestine (3 million people living in poverty) 4. China and India (almost a billion people living in poverty) 5. Middle East (Their entire religion is questioned). In the end, I believe these people have flesh, blood, and bones just like me and I believe everybody should live a dignified (shelter, food, and clothes) and a peaceful life. Diplomacy always works, we cannot destroy each other, it's no fun; instead we need to put our minds together and work on a goal which benefits each other. That would be my ultimate 'Avatar'. Have fun at the forum and I hope that today's Business Leader's rethink their strategy of global warming. Enjoy!

  • 9.
  • At 01:50 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Morag Cuddeford-Jones wrote:

"Davos is a great place to launch things" - hasn't been launched for many months now. Hannah Jones, vp of corporate sustainability at Nike wrote about it at length in the September issue of Brand Strategy Magazine, noting its launch was in fact 20 June 2006.

Before the campaign, there wasn’t an outlet to raise the awareness of the plight of the refugee children. They don’t have a choice and if they are not educated, as a society, we’ve missed an opportunity. Here at Microsoft, we partnered with NIKE as part of the Business Council to help UNHCR with this campaign. Since June of last year, we helped launch their site We have also helped UNHCR to launch a blog at where you can become a friend of the cause, download a gadget and get up-to-date information. And finally, just last week, we launched the ninemillion Çlick4TheCause campaign. Every time you use this page to search: we’ll donate toward education and sport for refugee children through ninemillion.
Every little bit helps!

  • 11.
  • At 07:53 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Matt Klick wrote:

In response to Vinlay:

Have you considered that global warming, and subsequent crop failures, desertification, and shrinking fresh water sources (like in Sudan for example, where so much trouble is occurring) will only continue to exacerbate some of these crises? From my perspective, while all means should be employed to quell political hot spots, global warming will continue to undermine political unstable areas, largely because of "natural phenomena" and the resulting refugees. While many remain impoverished in China and India, China will overtake the US as the greatest CO2 emitter within a few scant years..globalization is on the march, so is consumption, and therefore global warming.

  • 12.
  • At 11:33 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • fraser wrote:

I do think that we should help out being of a richer country,, but one thing that has gotten out of hand is NGOs have been made into big business.. Take the debt away i agree but if you dont show them how to have a govt that is accountable,responsible etc.. you dont do any good.. Give a fish,bread and water to a man, and he is fed for one day, give him and show him the tools to feed his family he eats for a life time. Dont force you prinicple with too many conditions like you see our way or no way.. but show by exsample.
Vancouer bc ca

Innovative public-private initiative that aims at raising awareness about refugee children among youth living in first world countries and raising funds for education and sport programmes for refugee children worldwide. Unheard Voices of refugee youth were heard during the event in Davos through UNHCR's Council of Business Leaders and the Sierra Leonean Refugee Allstars. The corporate world can make a difference in so many different ways. is a great example of companies and their employees working hand in hand for one cause. also empowers individuals to take action by buying and wearing a t-shirt on

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