Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has launched a Co-operative Group-sponsored initiative to teach British communities about extreme poverty around the world.
At the launch of the Global Poverty Project’s ambassador programme at the London School of Economics yesterday, Mr Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds projects around the world that help to eradicate social injustice, applauded the initiative.
In a speech which focused on healthcare and agriculture based on his Annual Letter, Mr Gates said: "Helping the poor is common sense but people can be intimidated by its complexity. There are a lot of myths about aid and a reluctance to believe good news stories.
"But there are lots of reasons to be hopeful. Innovation is on our side and the UK is exemplary. Its commitment to the poor, even in hard times, is incredible. I applaud your commitment to this cause."
Hugh Evans, founder of the Global Poverty Project flew in from New York for the launch and told the News that he echoed that view: "The UK always leads the way when it comes to International Development and a grassroots initiative like this is no exception. It's great to be working in partnership with the Co-operative Group — such a cutting edge organisation — which, like us, is committed to ending global poverty."
Co-operative Group Chair Len Wardle explained how the Group's commitment to tackling poverty was a long standing one: "The Co-operative Group is delighted to be part of this new initiative to tackle global poverty. The ambassadors have a crucial role to play in getting the message out into communities. There is a lot of hard work ahead but the effect can be really significant."
In Bill Gates's Annual Letter he writes about the plight of over 1 billion people who live in extreme poverty: “On most days, they worry about whether their family will have enough food to eat. There is irony in this, since most of them live and work on farms. The problem is that their farms, which tend to be just a couple acres in size, don’t produce enough food for a family to live on.”
His letter outlined that the focus of the Gates Foundation is to “encourage innovation in the areas where there is less profit opportunity but where the impact for those in need is very high”.
$2 billion has been devoted by the organisation to help poor farm families boost their productivity; and these funds have been invested in areas of innovation from sustainable land management to connecting farmers to functioning markets.
In its history, the Foundation has also supported many co-operatives with a part of this $2bn funding. Through the United Nations’ World Food Program, COACMU farmers’ co-operative in Rwanda was given training and support to cultivate and sell maize and beans.
CLUSA, the international development arm of the National Cooperative Business Association, has recently finished a $4 million project funded directly by the Foundation to help improve the cotton value chain in Mozambique. The organisation helped the cotton trade and increase smallholder farmer profits by increasing yields, diversifying the farming system, providing literacy and business training, and linking farmers to markets
The Global Fund for Women has started a project in Sub-Saharan Africa that runs until 2013 to help empower women farmers. The $875,000 project seeks to empower, connect and boost the livelihoods of women farmers by building the institutional capacity of rural women’s associations and cooperatives in Uganda, Kenya and Burkina Faso.
Global Poverty Ambassadors, many of them members of co-operatives in the UK, will be trained by leading experts at the LSE, gaining the knowledge and expertise to engage with a diverse range of communities, from students to businesses and faith groups.
The partnership between the project and the Co-operative Group will run throughout 2012 as part of the society's efforts during the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives. Tackling global poverty is a key element of the Group’s rolling three year Ethical Plan and last year, the business committed to spending £7m per annum supporting projects such as this.
In this article
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Bill Gates
- Business models
- Co-operatives UK
- Hugh Evans
- Len Wardle
- London School of Economics
- Person Career
- Person Travel
- Rockefeller Foundation
- Social Issues
- The Co-operative Bank
- The Co-operative brand
- The Co-operative Group
- The Global Fund
- United Kingdom