Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
If you were to describe this world to a child, which one of the following would you pick?
It is home to magic, art, beauty, and tens of thousands of years of human talent. Or you would, even though it may be true, that our world is where we live, it is a place that doesn’t work for everyone.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a world that works for all of us can be possible. But the opportunities are all around us. While we all hope for a better future for our world, many of us are building it. If you are a builder, we are betting on you.
We never stopped trying. And we never will.
We trust in people, and we take on the impossible, every day. Fighting poverty, building platforms for tolerance, equality, and inclusion, and saying no to violence against women and children.
We, pilot, perfect, and scale. Our DNA is to build. Whoever you are, whatever you are. Doing good is everyone’s business.
It's rarely obvious what choices people in poverty should be making. Global development is teeming with behavior change campaigns that presume to know what people in poverty should do. Sometimes - say, when promoting essential health products - this may be a sensible stance. But most of life's pressing choices hinge on local context and personal preference. Who can really say if a given person should save more, invest more in their business, or spend more on their children? No matter how much research you may be equipped with: when trying to navigate such trade-offs for anybody other than yourself, you will lack some essential knowledge.
In this vision of development, people must be seen as the central agents of their own lives. This is not just a matter of respecting their dignity; it is also a matter of finding effective ways to help. It's often possible to support people in the navigation of their own choices.
When we humans try to make sense of our opportunities, we do not navigate the real world, but mental representations of it - simplified maps and models that are stored in our minds. These mental representations, and their constituent components (our assumptions, beliefs, narratives, and so forth), are by definition imperfect. And they are hard to deliberately improve upon: "we don't know what we don't know". We have no choice but to compile them through our life experiences.
When these experiences are empowering, they can unlock human potential. Successful demonstration projects gave people access to data to help them better assess their options; to support that expanded their sense of control and hope; or to various forms of counsel, mentorship, and company. The unifying idea behind these approaches was not to override people's own decision-making, but to augment it: to engage people's consciousness and expand their capability to exert control over their own lives.
When the right conditions are in place, remarkable impacts on educational, health, and poverty outcomes can follow - even among people who face steep disadvantages and appear to have hardly any opportunities at their disposal. There is evidence that agency-oriented approaches can be highly cost-effective development interventions