Businesses fighting poverty: Sustainable Development Goal #1

Businesses fighting poverty: Sustainable Development Goal #1

Social entrepreneur, economist, and leader Muhammad Yunus said:

“Poverty does not belong in civilised human society. Its proper place is in a museum.”

Can we make poverty history? 

That’s the aim of Sustainable Development Goal 1: No Poverty.

11% of the world’s population currently live in extreme poverty (below $1.25 a day) and are struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water & sanitation.

Poverty has many dimensions, but its causes include unemployment, social exclusion, and high vulnerability to disasters and diseases.

To end extreme poverty worldwide within 20 years, economist Jeffrey Sachs calculated that the total cost per year would be about $175 billion. This represents less than 1% of the combined income of the richest countries in the world.

It’s important to remember that behind every number, every dollar value, and every country – is a person. And according to Unicef, more often than not, that person is a child.

Ending poverty is not simply about economics and average household incomes. People living in poverty struggle to access water, health, education, housing and basic security. 

Ending poverty is about finding ways to give people their basic human rights and opportunities for a better future.

Business can be an effective tool in the fight against poverty.

Businesses have the power to offer employment, fair wages, safe working conditions, and to give back their revenue and profits to organisations tackling poverty and the issues it causes.


Ethical Hour empowering entrepreneurs

Tackling poverty is one of our areas of impact focus at Ethical Hour. We invest a percentage of sales revenue into microfinance loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries through Lend With Care.

Anyone can invest in these entrepreneurs from just £15 upwards. Once they have enough investment they can use the loan to start or grow their business and pay you back in affordable monthly amounts that you can withdraw or reinvest into someone else’s venture.

Whether it’s opening a market stall, or perhaps a small tailoring business, or diversifying the crops they grow, people across the world are bursting with business ideas – all they need is a helping hand to get started.

In 2018, we made 27 loans and we have set a target of making 55 new microfinance loans this year, to empower entrepreneurs with trade, not aid.

The first ever loan we made two years ago was to Katty Guaman, a seamstress in Ecuador. After completing high school, Katty could not afford to continue her education, so she borrowed her aunt’s sewing machine and started her own business working from a stall in one of her city’s shopping malls.

Katty requested a loan to buy an industrial machine to help her provide a better service and work more efficiently, which would make her business more profitable.

Ethical Hour were one of 63 lenders who helped Katty raise £1,700 for her new equipment. We supported Katty with revenue from our Fashion Revolution campaign that year, and she finished repaying the loan in April 2017, which meant we were able to reinvest in another entrepreneur and continue the cycle!


Brave Soles battling poverty

Conscious fashion brand Brave Soles are another business fighting poverty with microfinance.

Brave Soles sell handmade leather accessories made with recycled materials, such as discarded tires found in the landfills of the Dominican Republic, upcycled plane seat leather and inner tubes.

According to Change Creator, their “innovative solutions using upcycling, microfinancing, and community engagement to help break the cycle of poverty for suppliers and provide hope for impoverished communities.” 

Founder Christal was inspired to start Brave Soles after connecting with a woman who worked on a landfill site, during a trip to the Dominican Republic. Christal befriended the woman, who worked with a toddler on her hip, as she helped her collect bottles from the waste.

Sadly, about a year later, Christal learned that the woman had passed away and her child was now an orphan. She embarked on a journey to adopt the child – a journey which would give her new levels of empathy for people in vulnerable situations, and ultimately inspire her to create Brave Soles as a way of lifting people out of poverty.

Christal began connecting with artisans to help bring her idea to life and mapped out her business plan using Post-it notes on her kitchen wall! With just $1000, she started the business and began taking orders.

From there, Christal was able to develop a microloan programme, which would enable her suppliers to purchase the equipment they needed to fulfill her orders and take orders from other brands too. 


How can your business help end extreme poverty?

Microfinance is just one effective way businesses can contribute to tackling poverty. 

By ensuring that you pay all your contractors, suppliers and staff a living wage, and working with suppliers that are committed to this too, you can ensure that no point in your supply chain is perpetuating poverty.

You may even want to go a step further and work towards the Fair Trade certification or similar accreditations that demonstrate the standards you uphold.

Through your choice of suppliers, you can also provide opportunities to disadvantaged communities through your supply chain if you make or sell products.

Your business can help address the structural causes of poverty by providing training, education, housing and healthcare – either through initiatives that support your employees and people in your supply chain, or through the causes you invest your revenue and profits in.


What’s your Legacy?

The Sustainable Development Goals give us a roadmap towards a better future for everyone.

They are an opportunity to grow your business as a force for good, which helps create a better world for people, animals and the planet.

Inside “Legacy: The Sustainable Goals in Action” you’ll hear stories from 52 changemaking business owners who have embedded the SDGs in their business to create a meaningful impact for their cause.

Their insights will inspire you, and the book provides practical tips and actions you can follow to grow your impact too.

Released in July 2019, Legacy has the what, why and how of creating a business that truly matters.

My chapter will focus on Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, and you’ll hear my story from fast fashion addict to ethical activist.

Want to find out more about how businesses of all sizes can create a meaningful impact towards the SDGs?

Join me for the virtual launch of Legacy – an online panel discussion with my fellow authors and industry leading experts, discussing the role of business in a sustainable future.

Register for your free webinar place now and be the first to hear when Legacy is ready to launch!

Find out how businesses like yours are fighting Poverty and achieving SDG1 in Chapter One of Legacy.

Get a free copy of chapter one sent to your inbox, before the book is released!

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1 Comment
  • Elen Mai
    Posted at 13:28h, 12 July Reply

    It’s amazing to see brands like Brave Soles working on the SDG’s! Lucy & Yak are doing similar things with their business, and are a certified living wage provider. Hopefully more companies will see the value in being transparent in their practices and will actively work towards more SDG’s!
    El // Welsh Wanderer

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