Up next in development

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Today I moved to Santiago Chile on a non-profit fellowship with an organization called Endeavor.

Here I will see live in the flesh an approach at poverty reduction that I believe holds a great deal at promise.

Endeavor, and organizations like it, advocate an innovative approach to tackling the scourge of global poverty. Their undercurrent is pulling the global development space a couple sharp tugs to the right on the political spectrum. Be your politics what they may, this is probably a good thing. Historically large-scale non-profits have been tended pretty far left – essentially the sword’s edge of giant redistribution effort. The traditional model is this: Money is raised in the rich west and given (in goods or services) to the developing world.

Without denying the role and good work of more traditional non-profits, a new breed has emerged with an entirely different approach: Their credo: The developing world will bring itself out of poverty the same way we did – entrepreneurship, development of local markets, creation of local jobs. Our job is to facilitate that process, not design or coordinate it.

The buzzwords of this new movement sound different than that of the traditional players, and sometimes downright business-like. “Sustainability,” “market-orientation,” “performance metrics”, and above all “dignity” of the global poor. The dignity they refer to is that of self-direction, choice and ownership  — sometimes secondary considerations in large-scale poverty reduction programs.

I will post more about this topic in the coming weeks and months, including the role Endeavor and other organizations play. They are small, but growing quickly and starting to take up more of the oxygen in the global development room. In the words of the great Fougner: “The prettiest girl at the Prom.”

In the meanwhile, two things to look at:

David Brooks does a profile of the type of person leading these organizations

Bill Gates gives his speech on “Creative Capitalism” at Davos, a coming out party for the concept

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One Response to “Up next in development”

  1. Elusive social impact « The Invisible Hand, in your pants Says:

    […] and government missions (USAID anyone?) have the notorious reputation for being inefficient. Phil and the new class of social entrepreneurs want to change this. The challenge is […]

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