Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. It also reflects lack of opportunities and the capability to access important services like portable water, education, healthcare and sanitation. According to the Vienna-based World Poverty Clock, 22.7% or 11 million Kenyans are living below the $1.90 per day poverty threshold. In addition, only 30 people are pulled out of poverty every hour, making Kenya a poor performer compared to Ethiopia where 300 people get out of poverty every hour.
According to United Nations, poverty includes hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. For instance an average of 30-40% of girls are missing school due to inconsistent supply or lack of sanitary towels due to poverty. According to Menstrual Health report, one in 10 15-year-old girls are having sex to get money to pay for sanitary ware which contributes to girls dropping out of school due to early pregnancy.
Currently, the Kenyan primary education is free but still regular school attendance is a challenge mainly due to low family incomes. For instance, over 1.2 million children of school-going age are out of school and involved in practices such as child labor to supplement family income. There is also a 27% primary school dropout rate related to poverty issues. Even fewer children are enrolled in secondary school, with only about a 40% enrollment rate.
Eradication of poverty is not just about getting to zero but also about maintaining that status. Ending poverty in all of its form everywhere is crucial to achieving sustainable development in the world. For instance, various stakeholders should invest in education because there is a lot to be gained in terms of poverty alleviation (high productivity which leads to increased economic growth) since poverty is a challenge to education.
Business has a crucial role to play in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) one since poverty Is not only a challenge but also opportunity for them. Business can adapt the inclusive business model. For instance, make their products more affordable in lower-income areas of the country, and also develop partnerships with local organizations instead of competing with them when it comes to targeting lower income groups.
Business can also use sustainable community investment (CI) programmes that help the disadvantaged communities to meet their basic needs. This can be done through financial contributions and donations (food and sanitary ware) to schools in the low income areas. The business can also start volunteering initiatives to schools where the employees can provided teaching and mentorship to students and pupils.