SINGAPORE (June 24): Amid escalating geopolitical tensions and uncertainty over global growth, there is one region presenting hope and opportunity: Asia. The International Monetary Fund expects it to grow 5.6% this year, accounting for two-thirds of global economic growth.

Yet, not all its inhabitants are experiencing the fruits of the region’s progress. Studies have shown that income inequality and inequality of opportunities can hamper economic growth. Despite a rising middle class, better educated workforce and improved life expectancy, the region is home to half of the world’s poorest people, according to data from the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific. These two billion people, out of a global impoverished population of four billion, are scattered across Asia.

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