Reducing Poverty and Raising Prosperity

Nov 25, 2013

This week American families will gather around the Thanksgiving Day table and celebrate the bounty and prosperity that our nation has been blessed with. But for many people in other parts of the world, there’s much less to give thanks for. What we consider fundamental necessities—nourishing food, working infrastructure, safe drinking water, basic health care, and electricity—are luxuries for some.

Though tremendous strides have been made in reducing global poverty, the World Bank estimates that 1 billion people will be living in extreme deprivation by 2015. It’s a challenge that the Bank—a leading global source of financial resources and experience for developing countries—is determined to tackle. And we shouldn’t simply aspire to end poverty; we should resolve to spread prosperity.

The private sector—led by the U.S. business community—plays an essential role in those efforts by investing resources and capital into developing parts of the world. It’s not just an opportunity to create new markets for our products and services, but an opportunity to ensure that millions of people are lifted out of poverty, can live up to their full potential, and contribute to global growth, which we badly need.

American business wants to be part of that success story. And we’ve done it before—we’ve helped many countries build infrastructure, purify water, power up, and engage in world trade. We have the technical know-how and the can-do spirit. Business can get things done, and it can do so on a sustainable basis.

And the fact is—it can’t be done without the private sector. The World Bank Group President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, recently visited the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and said that the Bank’s resources and official bilateral development assistance from world governments only stretch so far. The World Bank Group alone lends more than $35 billion a year to developing nations, with more than half of the funds going to sanitation, power, agriculture, transport, communications, and health projects in Africa. To use those resources wisely and effectively and to expand their reach, the expertise and advice of the private sector must also be leveraged. Business is eager to help the Bank’s loans and financing generate the best possible outcomes for communities in the developing world.

If organizations like the World Bank and the Chamber work together, we can turn private capital into public good. If we unleash the power of free enterprise across the globe, we can reduce poverty and raise prosperity. We can create opportunity and restore hope. And that would give millions of the world’s citizens a lot to be thankful for.

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