More than a quarter of a billion more people will sink into extreme poverty by the end of 2022, according to Oxfam calculations. The World Bank defines extreme poverty as someone living on less than US$2.15 daily. So what does this mean for growth in terms of personal development and the health of local economies in the most-impacted countries?
The post-pandemic combination of rising global inequality, broken supply chains, and surging food and energy prices—a situation worsened by the ongoing war in Ukraine—could push 860 million people below this mark before the year is over. Considering the United Nations projected the world population to hit an all-time high of eight billion in November 2022, almost 11 percent will live in extreme poverty.
Wealthier nations will likely recover quicker from the crises, thanks to record sums borrowed at ultra-low interest rates. However, it will be incredibly challenging for emerging countries as they will be forced to service their debt instead of prioritizing sustainable growth.
If the coronavirus crisis has taught business leaders anything, it is that organizations must collaborate and position people and the planet before profit. As governments worldwide continue to be slow to take action for meaningful change—whether combatting the climate crisis or supporting digital entrepreneurs—citizens are increasingly looking to businesses for inspiration.
Boldness and growth are two of the Art of Smart’s four pillars for smarter decision-making, and on this occasion, they go hand in hand. The boldest and most selfless example of this in recent times is the clothing brand Patagonia. In September 2022, founder Yvon Chouinard gifted the US$3 billion outdoor-apparel retailer to a trust and a non-profit organization. “Earth is now our only shareholder,” he said.
Pleasingly, there is a growing list of smaller-scale examples where boldness and innovation—a third Art of Smart pillar—are helping people, especially in emerging countries, and enabling sustainable growth. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and technology companies are collaborating to create meaningful change and opportunities for those who need it most.
For instance, in India, Ideosync Media Combine (IMC), WeWork and StrongHer Ventures are all upskilling and empowering women. Elsewhere, the Celo Foundation and Mercy Corps Ventures (MCV) are creating digital employment for Kenya’s youth, Betterfly is giving people in Latin America a leg up, and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has come to the rescue of smallholder farmers.
Social barriers, limited digital literacy, a lack of financial independence, and online harassment all contribute to a lower rate of smartphones and mobile internet usage among women and girls in India. Through our program, the girls have learned how to create videos, conduct podcasts, spot fake news on social media, report online bullying, and seek employment.