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For Community-Driven Global Development

Poverty Inc Recap: A Night to Reflect, Learn, Share, and Grow

poverty inc.

An amazing night! It’s been over three weeks since our Poverty Inc. screening event in San Francisco, and we’re still thinking what a great event it was--not only for FSD as an organization but as a way to meet so many of our supporters and friends. Our guests were lively, and panelists engaging, and a good time was had by all.While the highlights of the night were many-- delectable food, warm ambiance, and vibrant conversation-- perhaps the most captivating part of the evening was the screening of the film itself, Poverty Inc, and the engaging lively panelist discussion that followed.

Poverty Inc, a gripping documentary filmed by Michael Matheson Miller, challenges contemporary positions on global charity and foreign aid. The film focuses instead on promoting partnering entrepreneurship as a compelling alternative to assisting the world’s most impoverished communities. The movie’s tag line; “Fighting poverty is big business, but who profits the most?”, provoked the audience to reflect upon who the real winners and losers of the poverty industry really are. The central thesis of the film is not to discourage giving, but rather to demonstrate how our current development paradigm is failing the very individuals that it intends to support. The audience is left then to deeply consider the next steps that we can take--individually and collectively--to combat the commodification of poverty, and how we can move forward with promoting more sustainable, ground up development instead. 

While the film’s content was truly enrapturing, the panelist discussion brought what was shown on the screen into life,  as three experts in the field discussed their prior work, current projects, and future vision for shifting the direction of the development paradigm. Our own executive director, Lisa Kuhn, facilitated this conversation, provoking spirited discussion and insightful commentary from the audience.

Michael A. Krafft, Managing Partner and CEO of the banking and global advisory firm M&A Media Group, has served on the FSD Board since 2012. During the panelist discussion, Krafft discussed how the current foreign aid system is ineffective and (in many case) deleterious to its intended impact. A longtime advocate of corporate responsibility, Krafft became disenchanted with prevailing models of philanthropy for international development, and found FSD’s ground-up Asset Based Community Development model of sustainability a strong match with his own pragmatic approaches to international development. Krafft drew compelling parallels between the solutions offered in Poverty Inc. to the sustainable development model that FSD upholds; in his estimation the organization’s model is perhaps the most noble and effective approach to tackling issues of global poverty.

Jonathan C. Lewis, a lifelong social justice activist, and accomplished social entrepreneur, drew similar comparisons, As he does in his book, The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur. Lewis argued that in the “sustainable development” arena, there should be a constant emphasis on listening, learning, and trying to improve the present development climate.

We also heard from Kosar Jahani, the current Director of Impact at Samasource. Jahani argued social enterprise is exactly what employs low-income populations, provides training in the Information Technology Field, and ultimately paves a pathway to economic and social mobility. Jahani pointed out that our current foreign aid system needs to be altered from solely focusing on giving, to moving towards empowering the masses.

We would like to thank all of our panelists and guests who came out to this inspiring event, and for lending their ears and sharing their insights to a discussion that will ultimately cultivate a brighter future for the world of successful and sustainable development. Interested in finding out about how you can get involved in shaping this vision yourself?  Check out our volunteer and internship opportunities for more information.