Breaking the Circle of Poverty

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”—Mother Teresa, Missionary and Saint

WE are in the third decade of this century, and what a century!

On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked unexpectedly in its own key business district and in a very humiliating manner: the World Trade Center was reduced to rubbles. In 2019 before the global pandemic, there were predictions on economic recession. Then, the virus breakout led the World Health Organization (WHO) to officially recognize the pandemic in 2020.

Up to now, certain jurisdictions are still experiencing surges of the infection with varying types and/or variants necessitating corresponding lockdowns. Economic outlook points to much-lower global growth and emerging markets are forecasted to take more time to achieve pre-pandemic era performance.

This year, the adventurism of Russia President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine has added unwanted pressure and concerns to the “recovering economies” of the world with the price of oil spiraling. This impacts adversely on already fragile economies of the world. Inflation is felt in what the ordinary housewife’s challenging task of making both ends meet.

In the country, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened with the latter increasing to unparalleled level. Loss of jobs, closure of micro-, small and medium enterprises, adaption of technology-driven modality and more, shifted a number of our countrymen from one level to a lower level in categories of income levels. Natural disasters due to climate change have exacerbated the state of affairs of the unprivileged.

In sum, those belonging to the edges of the society have increased rendering the circle of poverty bigger.

The government is expected to take care of the populace. “Ayuda” or dole outs have been adopted but that is not enough and not sustainable. The resources of the government are limited too. Growing poverty is in our midst and all are affected.

The organization of finance executives thru the Social Involvement Committee of the Finex (Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines) Research and Development Foundation has rolled out basic financial literacy, basic bookkeeping and livelihood projects via seminars and/or webinars in Filipino among the underprivileged through its partnerships with different like-minded nongovernment organizations.

Based on the recent past (pandemic era), the initiatives may have reached to about a thousand beneficiaries spread all over the country. Use of technology through the eponymous platform of the Zoom Video Communications Inc. has assisted in reaching out to more areas and populace without need of travel and face to face encounters. The mantra of the Committee is: “Not to hand out fish but to teach how to fish.” Partner organizations’ feedback to the initiatives has been encouraging and more modules are lined up for development.

If other professional organizations will join the campaign to share knowledge and skills to help alleviate the state of affairs of the underprivileged, the circle of poverty may give way.

Allow me to quote Pope Francis: “These days there is a lot of poverty in the world, and that’s a scandal when we have so many riches and resources to give to everyone. We all have to think about how we can become a little poorer.”

Conchita L. Manabat is the President of the Development Center for Finance. A past president of Finex and past chairman of the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes, she serves as the chairman of the IAFEI Advisory Council. Manabat is also a member of the Consultative Advisory Groups of the International Auditing & Assurance Standards Board and the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants.


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