Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Recap & Response: Inclusive Finance and Entrepreneurial Responses

On September 23, 2016, CAPP-USA and Fordham University co-sponsored a conference called “Pope Francis’ Call for Escaping Poverty: Practical Examples and New Proposals.” The conference examined the definition and measurement of poverty and proposed specific, practical efforts which operationalize Pope Francis’ insistence that people “be dignified agents of their own destiny.” What follows is the latest in a series of posts authored by graduate students in Fordham University’s International Political Economy & Development Program that offer a summary and response to a topic discussed at the conference.

Philanthrocapitalism; what is it? The session on “Inclusive Finance and Entrepreneurial Responses” carefully unpacked this idea via three disparate and diverse perspectives. The panel consisted of Robert A. Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development and Citi Inclusive Finance, Eduardo J.M. Maia de Alemeida of the Inter-American Development Bank, and Josef Bonnici, former Governor of the Bank of Malta.

Annibale began the session by discussing the role of corporate initiatives that engender financial inclusion. Citi’s programs run the gamut from micro-finance abroad intended to protect those on the fringe from predatory lending practices, to themed bonds with a social conscious. Bonnici followed with a moral imperative towards philanthrocapitalism, citing that “1% of the population holds 25% of the income.” His solution is a Voluntary Solidarity Fund made up of high-net worth individuals. Capital would go towards micro-finance initiatives as well as a dignified approach to lifting those marginalized out of poverty through education and mentoring. Lastly, the call for “goodwill brokers” was heard as Almeida’s discussion on development finance advocated that financing just isn’t enough. Political will and coordination, effective and unbiased interventions as well as execution capacity and innovation are key components necessary for brokering goodwill. Almeida ended his presentation with a bold challenge. He urged the Vatican towards goodwill, asking them to use their $63 million in profit to start a Vatican Bank Development Finance Fund.

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Following the panel a lively discussion ensued. While philanthrocapitalism is a universally accepted precept, how to go about it, is not widely agreed upon. Building upon a culture of philanthropy was a common theme that ran throughout the discussion. Annibale suggested that corporations engage in corporate social responsibility by taking their cues from the ethical leaders of the moment. Almeida touted embracing new technological trends and the rising popularity of crowd funding; a financial tool that is easily accessible by smart phone in many developing countries.

The pervasive question for me was; how can you change philanthropy from a sidebar to a priority when your main obligation is to your shareholders? A common counterpoint was, who would and should accept the financial risk of inclusive development, and how should it be allocated? At which point, there was no discussion of comparative risk tolerance. Most likely because corporations and individuals alike, have a higher risk tolerance for the stock market than for inclusive development. However, it wasn’t the unanswered questions that cultivated the most poignancy in this complex discussion of how to achieve inclusive finance through entrepreneurial responses. It was His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick simple request at the beginning of the discussion, “Don’t forget the poor.” A request not meant to answer the hard questions posed during the panel, but to create a meditative point of reference when tackling them.

Erika Cox is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

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Recap & Response: Pope Francis’ Charge to End Poverty

On September 23, 2016, CAPP-USA and Fordham University co-sponsored a conference called “Pope Francis’ Call for Escaping Poverty: Practical Examples and New Proposals.” The conference examined the definition and measurement of poverty and proposed specific, practical efforts which operationalize Pope Francis’ insistence that people “be dignified agents of their own destiny.” What follows is the latest in a series of posts authored by graduate students in Fordham University’s International Political Economy & Development Program that offer a summary and response to a topic discussed at the conference.

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His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick.

At the recent CAPP-USA / Fordham conference, His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick took the time to elaborate on comments made by Pope Francis in his 2015 address to the United Nations about social justice, armed conflict, escaping poverty, and environmental abuse. In his speech, Pope Francis said the following:

“Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed. They must be built up and allowed to unfold.”

Cardinal McCarrick opened his discussion of Pope Francis’ quote by telling a story:

At the last papal conclave, when it became apparent that then Cardinal Bergoglio was going to receive the votes necessary to become the next Pope, Cardinal Hummes from Brazil leaned over to Bergoglio and said, “Don’t forget the poor.” This is a charge that Pope Francis has not forgotten nor taken lightly.

With this as a compass, Pope Francis has worked to bring an end to extreme poverty and to do so with the dignity of those involved kept intact. Cardinal McCarrick expanded on Pope Francis’ words, asserting that the poor are “not our lower brothers,” but, instead, are our equals and that we must all recognize the freedom of choice, especially in the realm of religion, an issue that effects the poor more than anyone else. He went on to reiterate the Pope’s call to allow the poor to make their own way in the world and to “offer them the pride that comes with being agents of their own future.” We should look for opportunities to facilitate the poor coming into their own, becoming part of their society, and to simultaneously acknowledge the dignity and rights that are inherent in human beings.

These words are meant to inspire and spur those of us who live in the developed world to look upon our less fortunate brothers as equals in the human family. They urge us to look upon those living in conditions of poverty as whole, complete people and recognize in them their rights to make choices in life. It is demanded that we show respect for those who find themselves in situations that many of us cannot fathom, much less relate to. The Pope and the Cardinal ask us to treat the poor, even when giving them a hand up, with the basic dictates of decency.

These points are striking, and the Pope has created a meaningful discourse in shedding light on them. There is sometimes a belief that a person who needs or takes assistance is of a lesser caliber, and, once perceived as such, is treated accordingly. How many of us know what it takes to humble ourselves in such a way? How often have we had to put aside our pride in order to pursue our vision of a better life? These individuals do not require pity or condescension; their needs cannot be solved with handouts and pittance. We should look on those who are brave enough to ask for help as fellows in a common struggle attacked from different vantage points. We are charged with the task of offering the respect that all individuals deserve so that the less fortunate may cultivate within themselves their rightful dignity.

Robyn Emory is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

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Recap & Response — What is Poverty?

On September 23, 2016, CAPP-USA and Fordham University co-sponsored a conference called “Pope Francis’ Call for Escaping Poverty: Practical Examples and New Proposals.” The conference examined the definition and measurement of poverty and proposed specific, practical efforts which operationalize Pope Francis’ insistence that people “be dignified agents of their own destiny.” What follows is the second in a series of posts authored by graduate students in Fordham University’s International Political Economy & Development Program that offer a summary and response to a topic discussed at the conference.

Dr. Sabina Alkire

Dr. Sabina Alkire

What image comes to mind when asked, “What is poverty?”

Often one pictures empty pockets, bounced checks, or simply being poor.

Until recently, economists used income (e.g $1/day) as a “good” measure for poverty in trying to identify who was poor. But using income alone can lead to incorrect diagnoses—and prescriptions—by policymakers addressing poverty.

To correct this, Sabina Alkire and James Foster developed a new measure called the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), and it has significantly changed the way economists and policymakers look at what it means to be poor.

The conversation began to change about fifteen years ago when the World Bank conducted a study titled “Voices of the Poor” that approached the question in a new way.

Field researches sat down face-to-face with people who self-identified as poor and asked them, “What is poverty?” The answers spanned several categories: material wealth—sufficient food or a roof over one’s head, bodily well-being—health and appearance, social well-being—dignity and respect, and security in neighborhoods and communities.

Poverty, in other words, is more than just lack of income; it has many dimensions.

The MPI is comprised of ten indicators that span health, education, and living . This allows for a much more comprehensive and detailed look at who is poor and in what ways, and it’s having a big effect on policymakers around the world.

The magic in the MPI is that it doesn’t dictate broad or vague policies, but rather alerts policy makers to areas of issue. This allows for policies and funding to be targeted to specific geographic regions and initiatives within the ten indicators.

Examples include President Santos of Costa Rica, who declared that government spending has to match MPI indicators. This means specific areas that scored poorly, such as education, receive more funding as a result. In Colombia, businesses in the private sector use the MPI as a management tool to drive their social enterprises.

And because the MPI is now employed in over one hundred countries, it allows countries to compare and contrast with one another—and to compete to lower their MPI scores.

As Dr. Alkire stated, “The clustering of disadvantage is a defining feature of poverty.” By acknowledging and defining the multidimensionality of poverty, policymakers and practitioners alike can better identify and serve the interests of the poor.

Luther Flagstad is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

Global Multidimensional Poverty Index.

Global Multidimensional Poverty Index.

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Recap & Response — Insights into Pope Francis’ Views on International Poverty and Development

On September 23, 2016, CAPP-USA and Fordham University co-sponsored a conference called “Pope Francis’ Call for Escaping Poverty: Practical Examples and New Proposals.” The conference examined the definition and measurement of poverty and proposed specific, practical efforts which operationalize Pope Francis’ insistence that people “be dignified agents of their own destiny.” What follows is the first in a series of posts authored by graduate students in Fordham University’s International Political Economy & Development Program that offer a summary and response to a topic discussed at the conference.

The Most Reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza

The Most Reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza

Optimistic is the word that the Most Reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza repeatedly used to describe “Pope Francis’ Views on International Poverty and Development,” in his presentation at the CAPP-USA and Fordham University conference last Friday. Above all, the Archbishop emphasized that in the words of Pope Francis, the poor are “dignified agents” of their own destiny. As such, they should be empowered to actively participate in the fight against “undignified” poverty.

According to the Pope, there are three “illnesses” that cause and perpetuate poverty: the globalization of indifference, consumerism and over consumption, and “ferocious idolatry of money.” To those suffering from these illnesses, Pope Francis ascribes a lack of empathy, a blunted conscious, and a loss of ethical control. In spite of this, the Pope’s message remains hopeful, asserting that spiritual renewal, restrained consumption, and a return to God are antidotes that will resolve the three illnesses.

Just as each of the three illnesses has an antidote, so does extreme poverty. The Pope’s answer is “integral human development.” The key components of this holistic approach to development are solidarity, a preferential option for the poor, and the three T’s: Tierra, Techo, and Trabajo (Land, Lodging, and Labor). Integral human development entails a return to the culture of encounter that is central to the Church and incorporates a renewed focus on the Gospel. This guide for treatment of the poor underscores the necessity of basic prerequisites for a dignified life. The Pope’s final sentiment is, unsurprisingly, highly optimistic. He insists that international poverty can and must be defeated and that we have the power to accomplish this task if we all work together.

In the midst of relaying the Pope’s views, the Archbishop seemed to caution us against blind optimism, reminding us that it is difficult to classify poverty. He inquired, “how do we know that only 1.2 of 7.2 billion people live in extreme poverty today? Can we trust the statistics presented by the World Bank?” The Archbishop reveals a cynicism of international institutions and arguably a bit of exasperation at the extent of the challenge before us. Nevertheless, he echoes the Pope’s optimism, especially when it comes to the growing recognition that religion and religious organizations are receiving from the United Nations, as catalysts for change at the grassroots level. Perhaps the Archbishop’s purpose, in voicing his concerns regarding multilateral organizations as well as his pleasure at the credit being afforded to the Church for its work on the ground, is to offer clarification. In order to effectively answer the Pope’s call to work together to fight poverty, we should turn not to the IMF or World Bank, but rather to the Church.

Kelsey Garcia is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

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