3 MIN READ
Horizonte Positivo (H+) is a non-profit association founded in 2012 by a group of Costa Rican business professionals. It prides itself on being a “private, independent, patriotic initiative with a long-term vision and no political color”.
With a brief that seeks to tackle poverty while boosting economic reactivation and employment, it seeks to inspire and stimulate the imaginations of Costa Ricans.
Its mission is to contribute to closing the gap between the potential and the reality of Costa Rica, through actions that help to restore trust between sectors, promote attitudes of social solidarity, unlock decision-making processes that impact society as a whole, improve the management of the state and its institutions, and tackle head-on the underlying causes that prevent the country from realising its significant potential.
The initiatives of the association are too many and varied to run through here. However, one decision in particular stands out in enabling H+ to deliver on its stated objectives by galvanizing efforts from various groups to reduce poverty.
It is inherently difficult to close the poverty gap if the size of the gap is not known. Equally, without measurement it is impossible to gauge whether – or how effectively – the gap is being closed.
H+ therefore decided to invest in a tool that could monitor and track key metrics to better inform the activities it undertakes, and better assess the success of existing initiatives. The association realised that, if it could harness the data and resources of the private sector and business community, it could make a giant leap in eradicating poverty. At the same time, businesses using the H+ tool would benefit by first acknowledging, and then helping, employees who may silently be enduring hardship.
Working in conjunction with the Oxford University Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) in the UK, H+ developed and launched the Business Multidimensional Poverty Index (Business MPI or BMPI). This innovative tool measures the living conditions of employees and their families in a number of priority dimensions for the country: housing, education, health, employment and social protection, in addition to including a financial situation section.
Through a simple survey, employers can see detailed information about the living conditions of their staff.
The BMPI approach aligns with national governmental measures aimed at tackling inequality and allows companies to identify issues, organise a response and direct resources. Companies are audited to ensure they meet the standards outlined under BMPI, and receive a seal to demonstrate their adherence.
Costa Rica was the first country in the world to use the MPI in the business sector after earlier adopting the National MPI (which uses the same metrics as the BMPI) in 2014 as the official measure of poverty nationwide. While it cannot, in isolation, solve poverty-related issues, it does help to identify factors that accelerate poverty, or which contribute to widening the wealth gap. In Costa Rica, more than 40 companies and organizations, which encompass more than 60,000 employees, are now part of the Business MPI community.
Then number of people covered by the MPI continues to rise, and as more feed into the process, more and more benefit exponentially from the improved information. The framework continues to contribute to guiding efforts such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal One.
By bringing a scientific approach to tracking poverty eradication, H+ and its partners have started talking in the numbers-oriented language that business speaks. This has allowed greater engagement from the sector in tackling inequality, and the subsequent spread of H+’s values of freedom, transparency and accountability.