Breaking the Cycle: Poverty-Reducing Initiatives in Africa

The Grameen Foundation’s motto is simple: connecting potential. The foundation says it helps the poorest people in the world reach their full potential by matching their skills with the resources they need to succeed. Many Sub-Sahara African countries are finding success by partnering with the foundation in different projects.

One of those countries is Ghana. The foundation teamed up with Ghana Health Services to improve care of mothers and babies in rural communities. The initiative is called MOTECH, or Mobile Technology for Community Health. The Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights says that 63 newborns die during childbirth each day. A woman in Ghana also has a 1 in 68 chance of dying from maternal causes during her lifetime. This initiative also works to provide sexual reproductive health information to younger generations to improve the standard of sexual health in the country. 

The Grameen Foundation has also worked with Uganda in a few different mobile technology initiatives. The Community Knowledge Worker initiative uses mobile technology to give small farmers better access to knowledge about their crops and animals. It helps them better protect their farms and get better market prices for their yields. AppLab Incubator and Mobile Financial Services Accelerator are two initiatives the foundation is testing in the business of improving “next-generation products and services tailored for the poor.” 

You can learn more about the work of the Grameen Foundation in this video:

Mobile technology is extremely important because of the information it can provide. Farmers who have no access to this technology can receive a wealth of instant knowledge from this technology. Much like the Community Knowledge Workers initiative, information is power to farmers who have no access to technology that can improve their yields and protect their lands.

Microfinancing is also a tool many developing countries are using, and combining technology with this practice is allowing individuals around the world to help. Kiva allows individuals to make a loan through their website. The donors can watch the progress of their loan and as it gets paid back, the money is credited to their account. They can then use the money to make another loan or on a different project. You can follow the story of a Kiva loan in this video:

All of these initiatives and projects are working to reduce the cycle of poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. In her book Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo presents a three step process that countries need to follow to escape this cycle. Step one is to reduce dependency on foreign aid every year. Second, countries need to reduce spending and scale down their national budgets. And third, countries need to invest in and protect institutions that help growth. While this three step plan appears very logical, it differs with the thoughts of economist Jeffrey Sachs. His plan states that aid should continue but in a more intelligent and economical way. It is important that no matter which side we agree with, we continue to work for the eradication of poverty because it hurts more than just the people living in it. The world cannot operate at or near its potential when people are living in poor conditions and cannot be successful. The poverty cycle is a deadly trap and if not broken, can affect generations before they even have a chance.

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