On a really big scale, but what if…
What a U.N. Partnership with Big Business Could Accomplish
February 21, 2007 George C. Lodge and Craig Wilson
As Ban Ki-moon begins his tenure as secretary-general of the United Nations, the world's poor continue to cry out for help and hope.
One-sixth of the world's population lives in "deep poverty"—generally defined as surviving on half or less of the annual income of those at a nation's poverty line.
And yet, more than a trillion dollars has been spent by bilateral and multilateral organizations since World War II to try to alleviate this problem.
The funds that were supposed to help improve people's lives have often been lost to governments that lack either the desire or the ability to reduce poverty within their borders.
Several years ago, world leaders gathered in Monterrey, Mexico, and gave poverty reduction top priority. They committed themselves to halve the number of people living on less than $1 a day by 2015. They realized that poverty is the seedbed of terrorism and the spur to migrants hammering at the gates of Europe and America.
But the goal of poverty reduction will not be reached unless the world tries something new.
It is clear from the experience of countries that have been most successful in reducing poverty—Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, and Botswana, for instance—that the creation of profitable businesses is the key. They provide the jobs, income, and motivation for education and individual development that raise standards of living.
Small- and medium-sized domestic operations have created most of the jobs. But globalization has meant that for a local business to flourish, it must invariably be connected to world markets, credit, and technology. That's why multinational corporations must play a critical role.