There is a saying that goes "when you educate a girl, you educate a nation". And research by Unicef indeed shows that investing in girls and empowering them to reach their full potential is critical for overcoming cycles of intergenerational poverty*. Yet today around the world girls and women still face significant barriers to social and economic empowerment.
How is working in one business going to make a dent in the development problem of Zambia? It will have a tiny impact on its own. But add up all those tiny impacts, and it is estimated that 500 businesses will be helped by Challenges Worldwide across Africa over the next three years, influencing the lives of 250,000 people. One small step at a time, and the new face of volunteering can help to give developing nations the tools to reach economic prosperity on their own.
Microfinancing is a great example of this development in progress. Funding initiatives are making it easier for Zambians to access small, affordable loans to help them to help themselves. The MicroLoan Foundation for example, which I founded twelve years ago, is committed to helping tackle poverty through encouraging independence, rather than dependence
2013 is now done with, like so many turkey carcasses, Roses tins and Christmas specials (unless they're on Dave, of course). So while the R&D department at Mattel feel the pressure of having only one more year before everyone wants a hoverboard, the rest of us have to contend with the kind of weather that have made these isles look like a Kevin Costner movie set...
Riding motorbikes is a great leveller. It doesn't matter who you are, what you do, or where you're from, motorbikes really bond people. But they do more than that. They can also save lives. It's no secret that I love mucking about on bikes; I work with a UK charity called Riders for Health (RFH) and when I heard they needed a hand taking a bike to a health worker in a remote African village - I was more than happy to help. Riders for Health is a brilliant organisation providing off-road motorcycles for health workers all over rural Zambia. Thousands of people wouldn't get healthcare if it wasn't for them.
Peter is just one of many millions of children who have not had access to the right nutrients in their first 1,000 days of life. Without this crucial nutrition in their first days and years, they cannot develop mentally and physically. Peter is just one of 165million children facing a life of lost potential and pain.
Millions of women in the UK earn a living by running their own business. But for women living in Zambia's overcrowded and filthy slums it's almost impossible to earn enough to feed their families, let alone start a business. Thankfully, a project called the People's Process On Housing and Poverty in Zambia (PPHPZ), which is supported by money raised through Sport Relief, is giving some of the country's poorest families the chance to change their futures.