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Advancing urban value chain development to help millions of people work their way out of poverty

The Value Initiative

Launched in 2007 and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the SEEP Network's Value Initiative aims to advance the knowledge and practice of urban value chain development to stimulate pro-poor economic growth while focusing on vulnerable populations. 

Why Urban Value Chain Development?

Less than two hundred years ago, only 3 percent of the world’s population lived in cities. In the last century, this number has jumped from 14 to 62 percent. By the year 2030, it is predicted that 81 percent of the world’s population will live in urban centers, with almost all of this growth occurring in poor developing countries.

This explosion in city population has enlarged and intensified the problem of urban slums, where over one billion people currently live. Lack of proper infrastructure, poor social programs, and a host of other factors contribute to intense poverty in these areas.

At the same time, however, cities are hubs of entrepreneurship, innovation, and growth. They are the centers of investment, culture, and technology, and house the majority of institutional and human resources. For this reason, the question for global leaders should not be how to deter urban growth, but rather, how to harness its resources and potential in order to reduce poverty.

The Urban Value Chain Development approach utilizes urban resources in order to develop competitive and vibrant local industries. It links the poor to growing, higher value markets. It strengthens the market system to attract private and social investment. In short, Urban Value Chain Development uses markets to enable the poor to sustainably lift themselves from poverty.

The following video shows value chain development in action, highlighting the Value Initiative's work in Jaipur, India.


For more information on the Value Chain approach, please click here.

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