John Paul

Job Creation to Eliminate Poverty

Kurt Hoffman of the Shell Foundation wrote an interesting piece for the Guardian today that comments on one of the main conundrums facing current poverty reduction efforts: that job creation offers the best chance for poor people to escape poverty permanently, but the development community does not know how to start up and grow businesses. While cross-sector partnerships aimed at overcoming this challenge are on the rise, Hoffman points out that “In the case of big business, it’s the wrong company representatives talking to the development community: instead of talking to the core value creators of companies, the development community ends up talking to experts in corporate social responsibility.” His suggestion: that the development community should take advantage of the experiences of both established businesses as well as independent entrepreneurs that have already succeeded in the tough business environment present in poor countries.

It’s a good strategy, and one that I hope is on the radar when the G8 meets early next month to discuss the future of foreign aid. I’m encouraged by the renewed urgency and awareness surrounding poverty reduction that is brewing in Europe right now, and hope the US government whole-heartedly lends its support to these efforts. With ICTs rapidly spreading throughout the developing world–finally making such North-South cross-sector collaborations workable – it would be a shame if the new prescription for poverty reduction turns out to be just a refill of the old one.