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Of all the trends that have transformed business in the last couple of decades, the importance of data certainly tops the list. Major companies live or die by their data these days, so much so that it's now hard to imagine them doing business any other way.

Now the power of data aggregation is being used to address the exigencies and decision-making of the poorest members of society, rather than the most powerful. Poverty Stoplight is a self-evaluation tool that allows families to rank their economic state based on objective indicators, assigning each a value of red, yellow or green. This simple tool gives families the insight to help themselves--and perhaps just as importantly, it also give...

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As a volunteer working with the Peace Corps in Rwanda, Markey Culver typically ate just one meal per day, common practice among Rwandan families. One day, Culver did something that seemed simple at the time--but it would change her life, and the lives of scores of East Africans.

To increase the calories she was taking in, Culver baked a loaf of yeast bread.

When her baking caught the interest of local women, Culver began to teach those in her community to bake bread for themselves. And when the women began giving the bread to their children, she began to realize the potential of her work to impact malnutrition. Culver was inspired, and when the women began to sell the bread at local markets, s...

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Opportunities for education in many areas of sub-Saharan Africa are scarce, and more than one-fifth of primary-school-age kids do not attend school throughout the region. Not content to sit on the sidelines, an organization called Street Child is acting to provide solutions for sub-Saharan children.

And they haven't been slow to the task. In the last decade, the org has helped to educate more than 250,000 children, and helped over 25,000 families start their own businesses. Now they've even enlisted the help of the royal family: Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, became a Patron Ambassador of Street Child when the organization joined forces with Children in Crisis.

For more about this impres...

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Born in a small fishing village in Senegal, Magatte Wade left her home country as a girl to live with her parents in France. Just old enough to see the differences between Senegal and France, Wade found herself puzzled.

As Wade got older, she began to notice a pattern: in wealthier nations, it was much easier for people to start a business than it was in poorer nations like Senegal. Since more business means more opportunities for everyone, she asked herself: could the key be encouragement of entrepreneurship?

Wade knew that in her hometown, there were few opportunities to break out of poverty. She came to see that the best way for her to change the situation at home would be to do it herself&...

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In a nation of just under 50 million, fully 3 million Kenyan kids are classified as orphans, and many of those are street children. It's a crisis of daunting proportions–but one crafty and compassionate organization has struck on what may be the perfect solution.

The people who run Agape Children’s Ministry started with one fundamental observation: the majority of Kenyan orphans actually have living relatives. Armed with that insight, the org's mission became to reunite as many of those kids with their families as possible. To date they have helped over 2,300 kids rejoin their families, and they've begun sharing their model with other outfits that hope to employ it elsewhere.

To he...

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In 2018, Nigeria overtook India as the nation with the largest population living in extreme poverty. Among the many problems the rapidly growing country faces is energy security: the country's power grid has failed half a dozen times already in 2019.

Ugwem I. Eneyo grew up in Andoni in the Niger Delta, and she is the founder and CEO of SHYFT Power Solutions, an energy tech firm that develops technology solutions to optimize energy "grid reliability and resiliency.” And despite the steep slope women of color must negotiate to raise VC money, her company is making real progress.

To read more about Eneyo and SHYFT's breakthrough technology, read the recent Forbes article.

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It's the central theme of the American narrative: the journey of impoverished, oppressed immigrants to this country in search of security, prosperity and a better life for their children. It's a big part of what makes America what it is, and in a nation chock full of immigrants, it ought not be a controversial subject.

Jean Garcia Mabaka Yangu has lived that narrative, traveling from his native Democratic Republic of Congo through South America, Mexico and Texas to finally land in Portland, Maine. He fled endemic violence in his home country to complete this harrowing trip, escaping with his four children, part of a recent wave of Congolese asylum seekers.

Thankfully, the city of Portland has ...

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Peter Tabichi teaches science to schoolchildren in Keriko, Kenya, a region frequently blighted by drought and famine. His students come from very poor families, many having to go without adequate food at home. It's an often bleak landscape, and drug abuse, early school dropout and suicide are all too common.

According to UNESCO, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of education exclusion in all of Africa; over one-fifth of children between the ages of 6 and 11 do not attend school. And Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School, where Tabichi works, has all the typical problems afflicting schools in the region.

But Tabichi's love for his students, and for science itself, leaves him undaunted by the...

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Despite the fact that standards of life in the U.S. are generally far higher than those in Africa, social scientists puzzle over the fact that suicide rates in Africa are much lower than in the Americas–and nearly half those in Europe. In a culture that is objectively cleaner, safer and more orderly, what breeds this desperation?

For Chigozie Obioma, a Nigerian writer and professor at the University of Nebraska, the bigger mystery was in Africa. What accounted for the boundless hope of so many Africans living in difficult, poverty-ridden conditions?

Obioma’s work charts the tensions between between tradition and modern life, and their impact on people's happiness. The professor has...

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Each year, 313 million surgical procedures take place around the world. Unbelievably, only 6 percent take place in our poorest nations, and it's estimated that 5 billion people worldwide lack access to safe and affordable surgery. The problem is especially dire on the continent of Africa, where people are routinely forced to do without medical services that are taken for granted elsewhere in the world.

Forty years ago, Don and Deyon Stephens decided to change that. They made a key observation: 50 percent of the world’s population lives within just 100 miles of the water. And with that realization, the idea for Mercy Ships was born.

Starting with one ship, the two retrofitted it to build ...

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