A Message from Zahid Torres-Rahman, Founder and Director, Business Fights Poverty
I am continuously blown away by the energy and innovation of individuals, like you, who are pioneering new ways of fighting poverty through business: just take a look at some the stories that we profile each day. I am excited by the fact that I am always hearing about new and inspiring examples.
The challenge we set ourselves back in 2008 was to help turn these individual acts of inspiration into a broader movement for change. There were three things that we felt were needed. First, we wanted to build a sense of community by connecting these intense, but often dispersed pockets of energy and knowledge. We wanted people to be able to find, engage with and learn from like-minded peers.
Second, we wanted to showcase the latest insights and tools to help people deliver on their mission. And third, we felt it was important to encourage visionary leaders to share their passion and ideas with the community: Virgin’s Richard Branson, Unilever’s Paul Polman, Gates Foundation’s Jeff Raikes and IDE’s Paul Polak are just a few of those who have done this so far.
Through Business Fights Poverty we want to contribute to scaling a creative revolution that is already underway. Members of this community are at the frontier of a whole new approach to international development – one that sees poor people as agents of their own development, and that focuses on what poor people themselves see as their best strategy for escaping poverty: getting a job or growing a business.
This creative revolution is made up of thousands of new ideas and initiatives – large businesses developing “inclusive business” models that create opportunities for poor people as consumers, employees, suppliers and distributors; social entrepreneurs using their business skills to bring new products and services to people living at the base of the pyramid; non-government organisations using their unique grassroots perspective to help small-scale farmers and local entrepreneurs find new markets; donor agencies finding new ways to partner with international and national companies to tackle specific global and national challenges, like improving nutrition, achieving better quality education and promoting gender equality.
When we speak to our members online, or at one of the many events we organise each year, it is clear that people particularly appreciate the social aspect of the network – the chance to find and learn from people with a shared passion. In a world where we are bombarded with information, Business Fights Poverty makes it easier for members to find the people and knowledge they need to do their job.
I feel that we are only at the beginning of an exciting journey. I would ask three things of you. First, please update your profile – to make it easier for others to connect with you. Second, share your stories and insights by posting a blog or joining a discussion. And third, if you have colleagues who are not yet members, let them know they can join for free!
I believe that for all the amazing things we are doing individually, if we can do more together – as part of a movement for change, the possibilities are limitless.
There is an African proverb that has been an inspiration to me: if you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together. For me that is at the heart of what the global Business Fights Poverty community is about.