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Posts tagged ‘Developing country’

Christian Publisher Offers Free Curriculum to Help Children in Distress.

sad child
Photo for illustration purposes only (D. Sharon Pruitt / Creative Commons)

In light of the devastating tornado in Moore, Okla., Global Mission at David C Cook has made available a portion of its Children-at-Risk curriculum.

While war, genocide, human slavery, HIV/AIDS, trafficking, child soldiers, prostitution and grinding poverty are by and large issues impacting children in developing countries, natural disasters level the playing field of trauma. This week’s tornado in Moore, Okla., certainly constitutes as an event causing severe distress in children.

David C Cook’s God’s Peace, My Peace: Trusting God in Terrifying Times is now free for anyone parenting children—or any adult who loves kids.

“While it’s essential to meet the physical needs of those ravaged by this monster tornado, our ministry is primarily focused on the inner life of a child—the one wrestling with the emotional, spiritual and mental fallout,” explains Marlene LaFever, vice president of educational development in global mission at David C Cook.

“Soul care is a non-negotiable for children facing wounds so deep no man can touch them—situations so complex even adults strive to comprehend them,” she continues. “Most Christians don’t feel prepared to engage with children who’ve faced bone-crushing trauma. The good news is you don’t have to be a psychologist, doctor or even a pastor to use this this curriculum. It’s accessible to everyone.”

The activity on clinging to God in the midst of frightening circumstances accomplishes two purposes: 1) to help children trust God in confusing times; and 2) to give the Holy Spirit room to teach kids to replace fear with peace. The lesson is part of a whole-life discipleship program that prepares local church and lay leaders to deal with extreme trauma in children in developing countries.

The Children-at-Risk program now covers more than 10 million kids in many of the most war-torn, repressive and poverty-stricken countries in the world. Through curriculum customized for a particular region, children are healed from trauma—and undergirded to face future challenges.

This three-day-a-week, three-year program uses the latest in trauma research and best teaching practices to help adults foster spiritual formation and character development in and teach life skills to (everything from hand washing to spotting traffickers) kids. The work is carried out in alliance with hundreds of churches and organizations across the globe.



China calls on Japan, US, EU to avoid devaluation.

BEIJING (AP)China’s commerce minister appealed Friday to other major governments to avoid suppressing the value of their currencies to boost exports, warning that could hurt global growth.

Chen Deming was responding to a question at a news conference about the Japanese yen‘s weakness but said his appeal also was directed at the United States and Europe.

The yen has fallen by about 20 percent against the dollar since the middle of last year, prompting concern other governments might respond by driving down their currencies to keep exports competitive.

“I’m worried that ‘competitive devaluation’ will lead to oversupply of money and it will have a negative effect on global economic growth,” Chen said.

The new Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has called publicly for a weaker yen to help exporters compete. His government has not directly intervened in currency markets but its policies have convinced traders it will create new money, eroding the Japanese currency‘s value.

Several developing economies also have criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve‘s program of bond-buying, dubbed quantitative easing, for pushing up the value of their currencies relative to the dollar.

Finance officials of the 20 biggest industrialized and developing countries issued a joint pledge Feb. 17 in Moscow to “refrain from competitive devaluation.” They promised to “resist all forms of protectionism and keep our markets open.”

Chen appealed to other governments to stick to their anti-devaluation pledge.

“If there were a huge devaluation of those major currencies, it would deliver a huge shock to developing countries by depressing our exports,” he said.


Associated Press

‘Why SMEs don’t need cheap funds?’.


Mr. Tunde AkandeMr. Tunde Akande

A consultant in Small and Medium Enterprises, Mr. Tunde Akande, highlights the importance of SMEs in massive job creation and how to transform it for national economic development. He spoke with NIKE POPOOLA.

How relevant are the small and medium enterprises to the development of the Nigerian economy?

The popular notion that big is better while small is bad does not apply to SMEs. SMEs by their definition are the backbone of economies in many developing countries by their ability to create jobs, drive economic growth and act as a major force in poverty reduction.

In Nigeria today, there are about 17 million SMEs with the potential to create millions of jobs. Small businesses now represent over 90 per cent of private business on the African continent and contributing to more than 50 per cent of employment and gross domestic product in most African countries.

Nigerian governments at various times had introduced lending schemes to support SMEs. Why are these funds not making any impact?

Prior to the introduction of the Small Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme in 1999, most SME funding schemes were initiated by the government, hence public sector driven. The government had tried to influence and encourage credit flows to SMEs primarily through a system of interest caps, subsidies and policy induced credit allocations. These were done through such schemes like the Small Scale Industries Credit Scheme, NERFUND and development finance organisations like the Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry and the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (now Bank of Industry). As expected with most government initiated schemes in many developing countries such as Nigeria, these initiatives were largely unsuccessful, primarily because many were considered national cake, which invariably fostered a culture of non-payment. The SMES also failed due to issues such as the non alignment of interest between SMEs and banks, structuring of the investments primarily as ordinary shares leading to principal agent problems, as a consequence opportunistic behaviour by the entrepreneurs. Other issues include banks being allowed to use SMEEIS funds to clean up their books by clearing borrowers past due obligations, pressure by government for banks to disburse and make investment nationwide also resulted in adverse selection and inadequate investment monitoring.

In recent times, the government has tried to support SMEs through the BOI and various CBN intervention lending schemes with some reasonable success. The BOI has been doing a great job and only recently there were reports that it was the only profitable national DFI in the country. However, with the huge funding gap still being experienced by SMEs, it is obvious that BOI alone can’t handle all the funding requirements of SMEs in Nigeria. The CBN interventions have also added some fillip to the sector; however it is not unlikely that such interventions fail to reach its target groups due to crowding out of genuine borrowers.

High lending rates and demand for huge collateral are obstacles entrepreneurs usually encounter when they approach banks for loans. Where else can entrepreneurs get cheap funds to finance their businesses?

Entrepreneurs didn’t encounter these two issues of high lending rates and demand for huge collateral during the implementation of SMEEIS, yet the scheme failed. As the saying goes, you only find free cheese in a mouse trap. If banks were to lend to SMEs now, they can’t do it at a low rate since the CBN itself has left MPR at 12 per cent. Even the IFC that has a mission of alleviating poverty worldwide does not lend cheap funds, but rather lends competitively priced and longer tenor funds. In essence, you can probably only get cheap funds from government agencies like the BOI and through the CBN interventions. But to be honest, I am not an advocate of cheap funds because it will only lead to adverse selection and crowd out genuine borrowers who really require the funds. I am an advocate for competitively priced funds and watering down of the huge collateral requirements. To buttress my point, research has shown that SMEs are willing to pay competitively priced interest rates as long as they are assured of the funding with the right tenor and quick turnaround times of financial intermediaries.

Considering your exposure to some other developed countries, what do you think that they got right in developing their SMEs that Nigeria has not done?

It is not only in developing countries that there are issues with SME financing, even developed countries have this problem. Many SMEs in the UK are groaning and closing shop because of lack of financing by the banks. To develop the SME industry, we definitely need to get the issue of sustainable funding right and eschew ad-hoc policies. I go back to my earlier point that we certainly need a national SME financing policy in the country. Going further, I believe that the Ministry of Trade and Investment must be the focal point to drive this policy on the long term. The ministry has a lot of work to do if there is going to be any reasonable sustained success in the sector. During my Masters programme in Development Finance at the Stellenbosch University Business School, I did some studies on SME funding schemes worldwide. One that particularly interested me was the Khula Enterprise Finance set up by the South African Department of Trade and Industry. That is why I will reiterate that the Trade and Investment Ministry in Nigeria must drive SME development and it has its work cut out for it. The SA department of Trade and Industry established the Khula Enterprise Finance agency as a wholesale financing outfit initially and only commenced direct lending itself recently with its direct business approach model. Khula has been largely successful in loan financing, credit indemnities and guarantees using financial intermediaries as distribution channels to reach the target SMEs that are not served by the traditional financial institutions for reasons such as high perceived risks and information asymmetry problems. Khula’s funding is entirely from the SA government but the strategy is not to offer subsidised interest rates as this will only attract the wrong set of people and lead to adverse selection and invariably moral hazards. The agency’s objective is to price for risk. Huge collateral demands are secondary to Khula, while the main criterion is the viability of the business and the ability to generate cash to repay the loans.



Emissions, climate aid in focus as new round of UN climate talks opens in Qatar.

DOHA, Qatar – U.N. talks on a new climate pact have opened in oil and gas-rich Qatar, wherenegotiators from nearly 200 countries will discuss fighting global warming and helping poor nations adapt to it.

The two-decade-old talks have not fulfilled their main purpose: reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet.

But countries agreed last year to adopt a new climate treaty by 2015. A host of issues need to be resolved by then, including how to spread the burden of emissions cuts between rich and poor countries.

Negotiators gathered Monday for the two week talks will focus on extending the Kyoto Protocol, an emissions deal for industrialized countries, and trying to raise billions of dollars to help developing countries adapt to a shifting climate.


By The Associated Press | Associated Press

Thanksgiving—The Remedy for a Rotten Attitude.

Children playing in the government-run facility for flood victims

My experience with Third-World poverty last week reminded me that we are so much more blessed than we realize.

Whenever I stare Third-World poverty in the face I receive a painful attitude adjustment. This happened to me last week when I visited a refuge for disaster victims in the small community of Manatí, Colombia. Approximately 1,500 people—all of whom lost their homes during floods two years ago—now live in crude storage units equipped with running water and makeshift latrines.

I stuck my head in one of the apartment doors just to see the conditions. A single mother lived in one room with her eight children. Some pigs and dogs, looking uncomfortable in the South American humidity, sought shade near a window nearby. Most kids in the camp played with old jars, plastic bins and sticks, but I noticed one dirty-faced girl with a used doll. She had created a home for her Barbie in the dirt outside her front door.

The people of Manatí know nothing about hot water, air conditioning or flush toilets. They certainly don’t have smartphones, flat-screen televisions, washing machines or Internet access. They’ve never heard of digital books, granite countertops, spa treatments, GPS devices, Jacuzzis, gourmet kitchens or Netflix. They can’t imagine paying $4 for a cup of coffee or $10 for a movie ticket. Being able to own a car is unthinkable.

They are part of the 50 percent of the world’s population living on less than $2.50 per day.

Before my tour of the compound in Manatí I spoke to a group of women, many of them abused or abandoned by their husbands. They gathered in a tent on the camp property to hear the gospel. I used a scratchy sound system mounted on a motorcycle to share the message of Jesus with them. When I looked into their worn faces I was reminded of how fortunate I am to have an education, Christian parents and the basic blessings of life.

I wish every American could spend at least one week a year in a developing country. It would make all of us more grateful if we could understand that the majority of people in this world are baffled by the comforts we enjoy.

As you gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I hope you will ponder these stark truths about world poverty:

  • 2 billion people in this world have no access to electricity.
  • According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die every day due to poverty.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. 72 million children who should be in school are not enrolled.
  • One in three children in the world live without adequate shelter.
  • 1.4 million children die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
  • Millions of women spend an average of four hours daily walking to get water.
  • Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished.

In light of these realities, our worries—even in what we call a weak economy—seem silly. We have absolutely nothing to complain about. Instead we should be on our knees thanking God for His goodness.

Thanksgiving has the power to adjust our selfish hearts and recalibrate our whiny attitudes. When we thank the Lord, we subdue the pride in our hearts and crush our craving for entitlement.

When I was a child, my church used to sing a hymn that contained this chorus:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God has done!

If you have become a smug, grumbling American, I urge you to take this on as a homework assignment. Look around you and begin to list your blessings. Thank God for your drivable car, your health, your drinkable water, your secure roof and your abundant provision of food. Thank Him for your income, relationships, talents and abilities. Keep listing these positive benefits until your heart overflows with gratitude.

I guarantee if you will learn to thank God for His blessings, He will take First-World pride out of your heart and give you a fresh revelation of His kindness and grace.



J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His latest book is Fearless Daughters of the Bible.

10 Basic Blessings You Should Be Thankful For.

Americans today face economic challenges, but we have nothing to complain about.

We Americans are a blessed people, but we are also spoiled. I know I am. I can get flustered over the stupidest things—like when my cellphone doesn’t get a good signal, when a flight is delayed or when my computer takes too long to load a website.

 Most people in the world don’t have iPhones, can’t afford air travel and don’t have computers. My impatience reveals my ungrateful spirit.

So how can we avoid this virus of selfish immaturity?.

 Thankfulness is the antidote. It melts our pride and crushes our sense of entitlement.

It reminds us that everything we have comes from God, and that His mercy is the only reason we are blessed.

“Be thankful instead! God calls us to live above negativity. When we give thanks in all things, God gives us a supernatural attitude adjustment.”

As you celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I pray you will invite the Holy Spirit to convict you of any whining. Here’s a list of 10 blessings that many people in the world don’t have. Go over this list and then see if you still have anything to gripe about.

1. Got clean water? The next time you uncap a bottle of water or grab a drink from the tap, remember that one in eight people in the world (that’s 884 million people) lack access to clean water supplies. Millions of women around the world spend several hours a day collecting water. When you take a five-minute shower, you use more water than a typical person in a developing country uses in a whole day.

2. Do you have a bathroom? About 40 percent of the world’s population (2.6 billion people) do not have toilets. Lack of sanitation facilities spreads disease and is a major reason why more than 2 million people die annually of diarrhea.

3. How’s your electricity? The power in my house might be interrupted briefly three times a year because of Florida storms. But 1.6 billion people—a· quarter of humanity—live without any electricity. And, because of unreliable infrastructure, at least 2 billion people on earth don’t have any light at night.

4. Got a roof over your head? One billion people live in slums. That’s almost one-sixth of the world’s population. Of this total, 640 million children live without adequate shelter; they live in cardboard boxes, tin-roofed shacks, one-room mud huts or filthy, crowded tenements. It’s been estimated that 1.4 billion people will live in slums by 2020. Meanwhile here in the United States, between 2.3 to 2.5 million people are classified as homeless.

5. Is there food on your table? In the United States we are battling an obesity epidemic. Yet according to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are chronically undernourished, and almost 28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted.

6. Got a stove? In developing countries, some 2.5 billion people use fuelwood, charcoal or animal dung to meet their energy needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 80 percent of the population depends on these crude, traditional means for cooking, as do over half of the populations of India and China. The really sad part: Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of 5.

7. Got regular income? You may have had to take a pay cut during the recession. But keep in mind that at least 80 percent of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. The world’s average income is about $7,000 a year. Still, only about 19 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with per capita incomes at least this high.

8. Did you go to school? Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Enrollment data shows that about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005 (and 57 percent of them were girls).

9. Are you generally healthy? Americans face illness like people in other nations—and more than 12 million Americans are battling cancer in any given year. But many of us have access to health care. In the developing world, more than 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized. An estimated 40 million people in developing countries are living with HIV/AIDS. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities, mostly in Africa.

10. Are you free to worship God? More than 400 Christians die for their faith every day around the world, and most of these believers suffer in Islamic countries—although the top hot spot for Christian persecution, according to Open Doors International, is the atheist regime of North Korea.

What will you be grateful for this Thanksgiving? In these tough economic times you may feel the urge to complain. Be thankful instead! God calls us to live above this negativity.

 When we give thanks in all things, God gives us a supernatural attitude adjustment.

When we thank God for all He has given us, acknowledging that we don’t deserve His goodness, our grumbling melts into gratitude and our impatience turns to praise.

By  J. Lee Grady.

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