Kyle Poplin

Weekly Roundup – 11/30/13: Pope’s scathing review of capitalism puts BoP on front pages around the world

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation this week put the BoP on the front page of every newspaper in the world.

As most of us have heard by now, the pope came out on Tuesday with a scathing review of capitalism. It’s led to income disparity across the globe, he said, and sets up competition in which “the powerful feed upon the powerless.” In summary: “The socioeconomic system is unjust at its root.”

It was, of course, big news. Debate over his words has been raging across all disciplines. Economists, ethicists, political pundits and church leaders are all chiming in, telling us what they thought the pope meant. Those who pursue development through enterprise should be heard from, too, because the pope’s words are especially relevant in this context.

The pope is pessimistic that the free market can bring about long-term positive changes. Where Francis sees a system that is all about exclusion, however, others see a system that can make the planet healthier and happier through inclusion.

The pope sees a system that “rules rather than serves;” others see a system that – in spite of its obvious flaws – has the potential to do just the opposite.

This potential is at the heart of our work in social enterprise. Social entrepreneurs have seen what happens when the BoP is integrated into formal economies through the “invisible hand,” by providing products they need and want. They know what a difference it would make if more people from the BoP rose to the middle class. A few of these entrepreneurs are featured in the blogs listed below, demonstrating through their work that business can be used to improve lives around the planet.

The pope has started a discussion about a topic near and dear to our hearts. We’ll do our best to keep it going.

In Case You Missed It … This Week on NextBillion

NexThought Monday: What’s your feedback loop? (Part 1) By Dennis Whittle and Elizabeth ChristophersonAshoka

Faith and Finance: The director of an Islamic microfinance institution discusses the challenges of mixing business and religion By Emily YouattMercy Corps

Don’t Forget Hygiene: Health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa is complicated, but simple things still matter By Kyle PoplinWDI

poverty alleviation