Despite progress under the MDGs, approximately 17% of the world's population - more than 1 billion people - still lives at or below $1.25 per day. Over the past decade, markets in developing countries have expanded dramatically, and the volume of funds flowing from the private sector to these countries now dwarfs that of foreign aid, making the private sector one of the most significant influencers of global poverty.
Certain groups are disproportionately represented among the poor, and face additional constraints - such as limited access to productive resources and markets - in escaping poverty. These include women, persons with disabilities, children, and indigenous peoples.
Businesses should ensure that they meet their responsibility to respect human rights, including the rights of these groups. Businesses also have the opportunity to proactively take measures to address constraints faced by these groups, such as through inclusive business models, innovative products and/or services that better meet the needs of such groups, and by leveraging the unique perspectives of these groups as consumers, employees, suppliers and distributors in the value-chain, and community-members.
Beyond income, business can influence other dimensions of poverty, such as limited opportunities and capabilities. These inter-linked dimensions include food/nutrition insecurity, lack of access to basic, quality services such as health care, education and sanitation, and low empowerment and personal security. Several of these dimensions, especially for the poor, are closely related to the environment - for example health is directly affected by declining environmental quality in ways that the poor may find harder to address individually. These multiple dimensions of poverty - when suitably measured - convey a more complete picture than provided by the income indicator alone. Business' role in poverty eradication also should address framework conditions of poverty, for example, by engaging in policy dialogue for the provision of basic goods and services where they operate.