Corporate Australia Urged to Fight Global Poverty
6 December 2004 at 12:12 pm
Two heavyweights of Australian aid, David Bussau and Tim Costello have called on Australian businesses to play their part in halving global poverty.
2000 saw all 191 UN member-states, including Australia, sign up to eight goals that would halve global poverty by 2015. These goals, backed by the World Bank, are the Millennium Development Goals.
Five years on observers says these targets are not being met.
Speaking in Sydney recently Opportunity International Founder, David Bussau, and World Vision Chief Executive, Tim Costello, joined forces in urging Australian business to back Micro Enterprise Development (MED) as a proven means of tackling poverty as the UN’s Year of Micro-Credit gets under way this month.
The two see MED as critical with up to 80 per cent of people in developing countries not having access to the formal banking sector. They turn instead to money-lenders charging up to 500 per cent interest per annum.
Tim Costello says policies of poverty alleviation have to be matched by policies of wealth creation.
David Bussau added that economic empowerment allows people to make a choice but if you are economically disempowered, you don’t have a chance.
Micro-Enterprise Development involves the provision of small business loans, training, mentoring and support to aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Recent studies indicate that for every micro loan, up to 1.5 jobs are sustained, and show that each loan benefits up to 12 people indirectly.
Bussau, the 2003 Australian Entrepreneur of the Year, is widely applauded for his role in the creation of Micro-Enterprise Development 30 years ago.
Opportunity International is one of the leading specialist providers of MED, empowering millions of entrepreneurs in the developing world to break the poverty cycle forever.
According to Bussau, MED provides a basic building block for lifting people out of chronic poverty. With the flow-on effects of MED in creating jobs for others, improving standards of living for poor families and empowering women, he stressed that entrepreneurs are the “engine for transforming communities”.
Calling on corporate Australia to back entrepreneurs in developing countries, Bussau says people living in poverty have as much drive and creativity to succeed as anyone else. What they need is a hand-up, not a handout.
He says Micro-Enterprise Development achieves this, and provides corporate Australia with a successful program to show they are serious about corporate social responsibility.
Costello says a Micro-Enterprise loan can be as little as $70, loaned over a six to eight month period with an average repayment rate of 97 per cent. This shamefully small amount of money can lift an entire family from poverty.
Appealing to the Australian notion of ‘a fair go’, Costello added that very few Australian businesses can succeed without access to credit.
He says corporates should give entrepreneurs in the developing world the same chance of success.
Opportunity International and World Vision offer Micro-Enterprise Development programs, with various tax-deductible contribution options for individuals and businesses.