World Bank president Jim Yong Kim is calling on Canadian companies to help reduce extreme poverty by making more investments in the developing world.
Development assistance alone can't do the job of wiping out chronic poverty and the private sector has much to gain from boosting its presence in struggling countries, Dr. Kim said in a luncheon speech at the Conference of Montreal on Tuesday.
"We need Canadian and other international firms to invest in the developing world," he said, highlighting the major role Canada's resource extraction industry plays in underdeveloped regions.
About 60 per cent of total mining investment in Latin America come from Canadian firms, he said.
Dr. Kim has set an ambitious goal of eliminating severe poverty in the world by 2030.
"We cannot reach our goal without the private sector," he said.
"When I look at the prospects for ending poverty I am extremely optimistic because while official development assistance might be limited, there is so much capital sitting on the sidelines right now and we want to make the case that investing in the developing world is not only the smart thing to do economically, but you can get so many other benefits for the poorest people on earth with the work that you do.
"I look at this as an extraordinary opportunity to do well and to do good at the same time."
He pointed out that total annual spending on official development assistance is $125-billion (U.S.), a pittance compared with the $200-billion-per-year infrastructure deficit over the next five years in India alone.
Ninety per cent of all the jobs created in the world come from the private sector, said Dr. Kim, who replaced Robert Zoellick as World Bank head one year ago.
Many political leaders in the developing world are actively seeking ways to work more closely with the private sector, he added.
"We at the World Bank are ready to be the best possible partner to all of you for investment in developing countries," he told the annual gathering of officials, investors and executives hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas.