Santiago feels a lot like Europe. The large developed streets give way to small, quaint barrios (neighborhoods) where couples stroll hand in hand, coffee shops and bookstores provide afternoon relaxation and families play in the parks on every corner.
It only takes a 15-minute metro ride to see the other side of this city, the side that shows the devastating inequality and harsh reality.
Suddenly, the nice coffee shops and bars have disappeared, the streets are dirty and the sun bounces off the pavement hitting you with a heat-punch in the face. There aren’t many trees shading the sidewalks anymore and stray dogs are pacing looking for something to eat. Kids take turns manning the family business selling odds and ends, while grandparents sit on old chairs outside of tiny, run down homes.
- Despite being categorized as a high-income country by the OECD, Chile scores a 52.1 (in 2009, latest data) on the GINI coefficient for income inequality (where 0 means income is equally distributed across the population and 1 signifies that one person holds the wealth of the entire country). That makes Chile’s income distribution more disparate than in Uganda, Sudan, The Dominican Republic and many other countries.
Chile’s income disparity is similar to nations all over the world. We live in a remarkable time where incredible amounts of wealth and extreme poverty co-exist – both within and between countries.
The need for change is more pressing than ever. Despite the obvious challenges in a desperately unequal world – in which where you are born and who your parents are has nearly everything to do with your given opportunities in life – we also face global challenges as a species with a deteriorating environment and powerful political turbulence.
Nations that were left behind during the industrial age are now undergoing their own period of development, and developed countries are competing for continuing economic growth – both contributing to complete and utter disrespect for the environment and for long-term stability. Our current economic system is aligned with the wrong incentives – both for our people and for our planet.
One attempt to address this systematic problem is through the creation of a new economy through the social business movement. Shifting towards an economy where businesses use natural market forces to solve social and environmental problems is the mission behind B Corps, Sistema B and their counterparts all over the world. The challenges facing the movement are enormous, but the potential for impact is beyond measurable.