In today’s Guardian Kurt Hoffman, director of the Shell Foundation, writes an op-ed on how “only job-creating business can really make poverty history.”
Hoffman believes that job creation should be the core objective of the international development community. Though how to accomplish this? Are economists and development practitioners the best persons for this? Hoffman says “no," and that the voice which needs to be heard in these international donor meetings in Washington and London should be those of the entrepreneurial poor and the established risk taking private investors that are already prospering in difficult conditions.
It's time that Africa's wealth creators were asked to take the lead in providing the real development insight and expertise the development community so patently lacks. That means anybody from the biggest inward investors to the smallest African enterprises. Both will tell you how to dismantle the obstacles to growth. In the end it's this sort of action, rather than dropping debt or doubling aid, that will open permanent routes out of poverty for the poor.
While there do exist many forums where government officials, multilaterals and the private sector can discuss how to improve the world – are the right members of the private sector community at these meetings? Perhaps these meeting would be more fruitful if the development community spoke to more than just the corporate social responsibility experts of companies?
For those who are interested, the Shell Foundation has also recently released “Enterprise Solutions to Poverty,” which discusses many of the above issues in greater detail.