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What is poverty? by sylvng
April 5, 2009, 6:52 pm
Filed under: General Charity Musings | Tags: , , , ,

I watched a video today from TED that I thought would be interesting to share. It’s a talk by Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of the Acumen Fund, a non-profit renown for its use of entrepreneurial, market-oriented approaches to alleviating poverty. I’ve heard many talks before on the topic of poverty in Africa, and usually they follow the story of a specific family and highlight the hardships of their lives, before giving a call to action. This talk, although it also follows the story of a Kenyan woman named Jane, is different in that it highlights the success of micro-credit, and focuses on the hope that permeates even the poorest regions on earth. I think World Vision (and other charities that have hour-long segments on TV) can learn something about how to format their fundraising pitches; a shorter message focused on the lasting change created by a donation works much better on me than tear-jerking segment that leaves me wondering what a the African family will do when donations run out.

In the talk Ms. Novogratz made 2 points which I find to be especially important when considering poverty:

  1. Wage cannot be used as the sole factor to determine that an individual is below the poverty line – poverty is also about lack of dignity, freedom, and opportunity
  2. Poverty alleviation must be more than just providing enough monetary aid to the poorest of the poor – it has to be about giving support to individuals and families as they make the journey

And if you want more, there’s a whole series of videos at TED on the theme of  “Rethinking Poverty”. Worth a watch, and definitely thought provoking, even if you don’t agree with what’s said.

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