The Inequality of Opportunity |

How Can We Make

Meaningful Global Change

For those of us who want to do something about it, this leads to a key question: how can we most effectively bring meaningful change to communities in need?

By Will Lee

There is still a long way to go to bridging the divide that exists between developed and developing communities. In Malawi, 9 out of 10 people lack access to electricity. Most locals are reliant on a single harvest for their yearly supply of food, leading to mass food shortages in lean harvest years. Access to healthcare is limited, especially in rural areas – and those who can make it to a clinic or hospital are faced with lengthy waiting times and extremely short consultation times, leading to potential for misdiagnosis.

How is it fair that just because you were born in one country instead of another, that you should be limited in your ability to achieve what you want in life? The inequality of opportunity is alarming.

Yet, attitudes of the locals are not one of disdain for their situation; they are stoic to the hardships they face and their resilience is immense. From the generosity of the locals, you’d never know that they live in some of the poorest communities on earth. I’ve never felt a greater sense of purpose than when I’ve been there.

We should remain optimistic – but critical – in the way we tackle these issues. There have been material improvements in people’s quality of life over the past few decades, and technology can continue to lift this further.

But, trying to making an impact is hard.

It’s hard to know where to start, or how to get involved in a meaningful manner. On top of that, how do you know if you’re actually making a difference?
The barrier to progress isn’t the fact that people don’t care about the issue. Nor is it that people don’t want to help out. Some of us care, but not enough to go out there and actually do something about it; and then there are some who want to get involved, but don’t know how to go about making a meaningful change.

For those of us who want to do something about it, this leads to a key question: how can we most effectively bring meaningful change to communities in need?

One way to look at it is to split our options into the type or organisation we want to be involved in: public sector, NGOs, corporations, or start-ups. But, in my opinion, it isn’t the type of organisation that we should subscribe to – instead, it should be the focus of the mission and how they execute their solutions.

Charities or governments are not necessarily ineffective. Some of the best work in the development space has been done by not-for-profit organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Some programmes are long-term initiatives and may not necessarily be commercially viable for the private sector to handle. Effective government institutions are fundamental to creating lasting change in communities.

The bigger issue is how do we allocate our resources – both money (financial resources) and people (human resources)? How do we go about prioritising issues (attractiveness – size and impact of the problem, and addressability – capability), and how do we execute on solving for them? How do we challenge assumptions?