Our goal is to create 10 million jobs for some of the world’s poorest residents
Hand in Hand fights poverty with grassroots entrepreneurship. Long-term, our goal is to help create 10 million jobs.
Entrepreneurship wasn’t always our focus. Back in 2003, when co-founders Percy Barnevik and Dr Kalpana Sankar launched Hand in Hand, our goal was to get local children out of factories and into schools. But it soon became clear that in order to fix the problem, we’d have to attack child labor at its root: poverty. And what better way, thought Barnevik, drawing on decades of experience as one of Europe’s top CEOs, than with jobs.
“Our model, help to self-help, puts people’s destinies in their own hands. You train them, you coach them, but they decide for themselves about the future,” he says.
Achieving our goals won’t be easy. That’s why, in 2013, we launched an ambitious effort to scale up our operations. Roughly half the 10 million jobs we plan to help create will come from India, our biggest operation. Another 1.5 million are projected to come from the rest of our operating countries. And the remaining 3.5 million will be created by partnering with governments and like minded NGOs.
10 million jobs
Our entrepreneurs make their own success, breaking the cycle of dependency
40 million lives improved
Every business we help create benefits an average of five family members – young, old and everywhere in between
90% program spending
More than 90 cents of every dollar we raise is spent on programs – a standard we plan to maintain. On average, the UK’s 10 biggest development NGOs spend $0.80
It sounds obvious, but the idea of fighting poverty with jobs – an equation so basic that most of us take it for granted in our own lives – has only recently taken center stage in development. Hand in Hand equips our members with the skills and knowledge they need to make their own success, with some notable benefits.
- Jobs break the cycle of dependency. Our success is complete only when an entrepreneur no longer needs us.
- We work at the grassroots level, directly with the rural poor. State corruption, which prevents almost a third of development assistance from reaching its final destination, never has a chance to flourish.
- An average of five family members benefit from every job we create – particularly for women, who make up over 90 percent of Hand in Hand entrepreneurs. That’s more children in school and more parents with access to life-saving medicine.
For these reasons and others, all backed by solid research, jobs are finally catching on. In November 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a statement calling on African leaders to “work together to foster job creation and entrepreneurship throughout the continent as critical ways to build a more prosperous and sustainable future for all.” A year later, The World Bank published a landmark report – aptly titled ‘Jobs’ – noting the importance of employment. “Jobs are the cornerstone of economic and social development,” it said. “Indeed, development happens through jobs.” And in 2014, UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening said, “economic development is absolutely and without question, the only way we can ultimately defeat poverty.”
Fifteen years after the world’s governments, civil society organizations and citizens rallied around the UN Millennium Development Goals, some 1.2 billion people continue to live on less less than US $1.25 a day. Concentrated overwhelmingly in sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia, this ‘bottom billion’ remains largely untouched by the global project to eradicate poverty.
These are Hand in Hand’s people.
Global population (in billions) by income
An average of five family members benefit from every job we create – particularly for women, who make up over 90 percent of Hand in Hand entrepreneurs. Conservatively estimating an average family size of four, then, some 250 million jobs are required to lift the bottom billion out of extreme poverty.
250 million jobs
1 billion lifted from the bottom of the pyramid
Across the developing world, informal small- and medium-sized enterprises dominate the economic landscape. In India, for example, home to Hand in Hand’s largest operation, informal jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and more account for 90 percent of GDP.
Clearly, the public and formal private sectors cannot and will not provide the 250 million jobs required to lift the bottom billion out of poverty.
Developing world employment by sector
But for all its size and dynamism, the informal sector cannot overcome poverty on its own. A lack of capital and business knowledge, along with barriers to accessing microcredit and crucial larger markets, keep millions from realizing their potential. That’s where Hand in Hand comes in, providing would-be entrepreneurs with the skills and training they need to work their own way out of poverty – without fuelling the cycle of dependency.
In India, where our job creation model was first tried and tested, jobs cost as little as US $38 each to produce. In Afghanistan – our most challenging context, hampered by security concerns and difficult geography – that figure is approximately US $328. According to the Institute for the Study of Labor, other NGOs spend up to US $400 per person on training alone.