The OECD’s definition of economic empowerment is: ‘the capacity of women and men to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from growth processes in ways that recognize the value of their contributions, respect their dignity, and make it possible to negotiate a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth’.
Related to this, in 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Summit crafted a collective global Agenda promoting ‘prosperity for all while protecting the planet’. Comprising 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Agenda espouses ‘no-one should be left behind’ and aims to end poverty, inequality and injustice among other goals.
So, while we err, um, aargh over the details of social impact investment products and outcome data, perhaps we should also be acutely conscious of: ‘who or what is being left behind’ while we deliberate?
Monica Middleton, National Director of 42-year old world-wide social investor, Oikocredit, considered issues of poverty, financial inclusion and economic empowerment on a recent trip to the rural region of Luzon, the Philippines. She visited Oikocredit’s social enterprise partner and co-operative, ABRASA, as well as some of the farmer-members who have benefited from their social impact investment and other support.
If, like me, you are squeamish about slippery, slithery creatures, I should mention that ‘rice eels’ are some of the heroes of this story, having provided a lifeline out of poverty for ABRASA co-operative member, Mrs Venus M Sadang, and her family.