End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Poverty exists everywhere, and that’s where the UN Global Goal wants to end it – all over the world. Digital transformation has the incredible potential to cure intractable diseases, ensure sustainable consumption and production, and equip people with the knowledge and skills to improve their lives. By managing the shape of digital transformation, we can ensure the end of poverty – all over the world – once and for all.
The cost of an iPhone lifts one person out of extreme poverty for almost two years. About 10% of the employed population worldwide lived with their families on less than US$1.90 per person per day in 2016. Few of us can fathom what that life would be like. Four college friends – Chris Temple, Zach Ingrasci, Sean Leonard, and Ryan Christofferson – chose to live in rural Guatemala one summer break. Their award-winning documentary, “Living on One Dollar,” gives us a small taste of poverty’s harsh reality.
Despite progress, extreme poverty remains unacceptably high, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The region now has the largest number of extreme poor in the world, 389 million, which accounts for half of the total number of extreme poor in the world, and more than all the other regions combined. Economic transformation in China and surrounding countries lifted hundreds of millions of people out of the “extreme” designation. As a result, the percentage of extremely poor in the region decreased to 7% and the number of people living in extreme poverty decreased by more than 40% globally.
The economic transformation of the Industrial Revolution led to a higher standard of living for most. Rural folk living in abject poverty moved to cities in droves to find work in factories that were started by entrepreneurs and fueled by innovation. Over time, the quality of everyone’s lives improved.
Can we replicate the success of Europe and North America in the 19th century, and more recently of China in the 20th century, with an entrepreneurial awakening for hundreds of millions stuck in extreme poverty?
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Microfinance a man who fishes, and you lift him out of poverty.
According to the World Bank, more than 2 billion people lack access to simple financial tools, such as bank accounts and loans. Experts recognize that financial services are crucial to ending poverty. Many poor have the desire and knowledge to “fish” for themselves, but without even basic financial tools, they lack the tiny amount of capital needed to turn their dream into reality.
Accessing financial services is a major barrier for many of the poorest because banks rarely build branches in slums and remote rural villages. Up until now, it has been cost-prohibitive, but this is changing. With the widespread availability and use of mobile phones among the poor and financial services offered through a mobile device by institutions such as UBank and Standard Bank, everyone has the opportunity to improve their lives.
Poverty exists everywhere, and that’s where the UN Global Goal wants to end it – all over the world. Almost 15% of the U.S. population lives on US$50.82 per day, which is below the poverty line. Even people who are gainfully employed live impoverished lives. In fact, with a minimum hourly wage of US$7.25 in most U.S. states, a family of three with one adult working 40 hours per week at minimum wage is officially poor. The situation in Europe is not better.
Many hold a gloomy outlook on the future. It appears the middle class will slide back into poverty if current trends continue. Earnings for the average worker have been declining for decades, eroding the middle class around the world. Some worry artificial intelligence and, more broadly, digital transformation is the next major revolution to displace workers – following on globalization, information technology, and mechanization before that. It’s not only lower-wage factory work at risk but doctors and researchers as well. It’s not only friends and family but you and me.
Digital transformation has the incredible potential to cure intractable diseases, ensure sustainable consumption and production, and equip people with the knowledge and skills to improve their lot in life. But digital technologies will require social, political, and economic transformation as well, if we are to elevate people’s lives. One remarkable example is Humaniq. Combining its vision for economic empowerment and community building with the latest innovations in blockchain technology, mobile technology, biometrics, and artificial intelligence, Humaniq aims to provide a technology platform for financial inclusion services for those who lack practical, affordable banking solutions.
By managing the shape of digital transformation, we can make everyone better off; the future of work – and the end of poverty – depends on it.
As part of our vision and purpose, SAP is proud to help companies like UBank, Standard Bank of South Africa, and Juhudi Kilimo – an agricultural microfinancing initiative – and give people the means to improve their lives.
With SAP Mobile Platform, Adarsh Credit Co-Operative Society Ltd. is able to provide banking services to remote and unbanked areas. Based on real-time processing of banking transactions, lower operational costs, and increased advisor productivity, Adarsh can now empower new customers who otherwise would not have access to basic financial services. Adarsh’s vision is to realize a financial inclusion strategy by converting the maximum number of people they can serve.
Further, SAP fosters social entrepreneurship and enables young entrepreneurs to use innovative business models and technology to help farmers in Africa escape from poverty.