The United Nations has periodically set goals in order to help world development and reduce poverty. However, the U.N. alone is not the only group helping to develop nations. Individuals and organizations acting under their own direction have and will continue to make the greatest strides in reducing poverty and promoting equality.
Every person has a different set of resources available to them. These resources include time, talents, knowledge, ideas, social networks and financial means. The use of these resources affects other people around us every day. No matter how small we feel our resources might be, each of us can use them to improve people’s lives around the world.
One of the most hands-on ways to help in world development is to adopt an entrepreneur who is in a developing country. You can adopt an entrepreneur in a variety of ways, including investing in theDevelopmentir business, providing mentorship or by involving that entrepreneur as a supplier to your own entity. A strong private sector is a necessary component in a strong economy, and supporting these entrepreneurs is one of the most direct ways to create jobs for people who most need them.
Do you have financial resources? Although you may not have the money to directly support an entrepreneur, you can choose where you spend your money. There are numerous businesses that purposely purchase resources from firms in developing countries to provide employment, and by choosing to purchase from these businesses, you are supporting development in other countries.
Another option is to donate to nonprofit organizations that help foster sustainable development. There are thousands of nonprofits that operate worldwide, and each has a slightly different focus. Chances are there is already a nonprofit helping with a cause you are interested in assisting. Whether you are hoping to help supply water to places in Nepal or provide solar power to rural villages in Africa, there are plenty of ways to support global development.
Do you have knowledge in medicine or education? These skills are sorely needed in developing nations. People with medical training can provide services to those who currently do not have access to health care. This has been done in creative ways, including through portable hospitals on trains and boats. Although this type of health care is no substitute for brick and mortar hospitals, they provide help and relief to individuals until such buildings can be constructed. Similarly, educators are needed to help train teachers and improve educational systems around the globe. If you have expertise in other areas, chances are, developing countries could use your assistance.
If you have other skills or resources we haven’t mentioned, your skills are still needed. Many nonprofits require the help of volunteers to carry on their work throughout the world. Strong communication, organizational and/or language skills can be of great help. If you feel a desire to assist, you can find creative ways to use your specific talents to help improve the lives of people worldwide.
The most important component of development is the development of people. At the end of the day we need to do more than just provide services or start businesses in other countries. With a little bit of effort, each of us can determine how we are best able to help empower individuals in poverty throughout the world. You need not start a new organization or travel long distances to make a difference. The journey of development is a long and difficult one, and it will take everyone’s cooperation to make it happen.
John Hoffmire is director of the Impact Bond Fund at Saïd Business School at Oxford University and directs the Center on Business and Poverty at the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison. He runs Progress Through Business, a nonprofit group promoting economic development.
Richard Payne, Hoffmire’s colleague at Progress Through Business, did the research for this article.
Ways to give where most needed (World Vision): Act Now