Poverty Pitch

The intersection of American business and global poverty

Should I support Fair Trade coffee or buy a drink that sends a kid to school? #FirstWorldProblems

A few years ago, the whole world was called to “Make Poverty History.” Suddenly, social development and poverty alleviation were no longer responsibilities only of the government—but of everyone. Fast forward to today, and saving the world is now portrayed to be as easy as choosing to buy a product with a special sticker or sharing a commercial featuring kids from a developing country.

But, can money really make the world go round? America’s big businesses have positioned themselves as the main channel between American consumers and the global poor. What messages about global poverty are these businesses sending when they quickly profile the world’s farmers in Fair Trade ads or push pictures of storm-trampled houses re-built by corporate sponsors?

This project investigates how American businesses advertise the ways they “do good” in order to answer the question: Who actually benefits from American business solutions to alleviate global poverty?