Syndicate content

Economic malaise? Call the flying executive

Michael Jarvis's picture

Development agencies have long accepted the need to prioritize medical aid to the sick, but Jonathan Legard, Africa correspondent for the Economist, argues it is high time that business expertise should also be available on call to boost local economies.

In August's Strategy + Business, Legard demands the establishment of an Executives Sans Frontieres (ESF) modeled on Medecins Sans Frontieres. Managers with relevant expertise would fly in to assist with market development and to build sustainable local businesses, staying up to 4 years with the program. He cites the Sahel as one region where this resource could make a difference – beginning with advice on how to bring goods to market more cheaply and profitably.

As proposed, ESF would be reliant on altruistic motivations of participating firms and managers. To be effective, targeted expertise would be essential. To boost sustainability any such scheme should not be afraid to offer incentives for companies to become more involved, not least increasing their understanding and penetration of underdeveloped markets. Such an outcome would be one more example in a trend towards more innovative and entrepreneurial forms of business engagement for market development where it is most needed.

To boost sustainability any such scheme should not be afraid to offer incentives for companies to become more involved, not least increasing their understanding and penetration of underdeveloped markets. Such an outcome would be one more example in a trend towards more innovative and entrepreneurial forms of business engagement for market development where it is most needed.

If you Google business enabling environment or investment climate, World Bank Group and donor sites dominate the results, but that doesn’t mean that this is a process solely driven by international agencies.

Beth Jenkins argues reform efforts do not have to take the form of top down prescriptions or nefarious lobbying. See Bottom-up approaches to the business enabling environment featured on the Business Action for Africa blog (always recommended reading). Instead, firms both with roots in the West and those in emerging markets, are experimenting with business models designed to integrate poor consumers and producers. (Many featured right here on PSD Blog.) As firms look to create value for both shareholders and societies in which they operate, this can create a new, popular position for the private sector to approach government and reinforce the case for reforms to help unleash entrepreneurism.

Comments

Submitted by Wayan on
Michael, Not to disspoint those excited about a "Executives Without Borders" concept, but I'd like to point out that David Rockefeller implemented your very idea in 1964 with the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) http://www.iesc.org Now 43 years later, it is still increasing economic development through the skills and knowledge of business executives. I happen to direct the technology version of that vision, IESC Geekcorps http://www.geekcorps.org which specialized in leveraging IT experts to increase economic development.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Jonathan Ledgard, Africa correspondent for the Economist, offers "Executives Without Borders" as a proposition for helping the driest regions of Africa.

Add new comment