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ComeToAfricaForBusinessNotHandouts WV

ComeToAfricaForBusinessNotHandouts WV

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Published by Michael Buckler

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Published by: Michael Buckler on Sep 30, 2013
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∙ Summer 2013 ∙ National Peace Corps Association
Commentary and Opinion
Come To Africa For Business,Not Handouts
“Buy one give one” model does no development favors
by Michael Buckler and Beau Jackson
rica is a marketplace on themove. Over the next 40 years,it will yield the highest returnson investment o any place on Earth. As a 2012 Goldman Sachs research noteremarks, “is now the time or multi-nationals to be investing in Arica? Inshort, our conclusion is yes.” Aricacurrently has ewer people but morepurchasing power than India. Accordingto McKinsey & Company, by 2020more than hal o Arican householdswill have enough income to purchasenon-essential goods. Te BrookingsInstitution adds that, by 2030, Arica’s18 leading cities will wield a combined$1.3 trillion in spending power. However,the U.S. has been slow to engage Aricansas business partners and customers,due, in part, to alse perceptions o thecontinent. In ulfllment o Peace Corps’Tird Goal, Peace Corps Volunteers(PCVs) should lead a paradigmatic shitthat corrects the record and benefts ourriends abroad.In our work as international tradeattorneys, we track the intricacies o oreign aid, trade and investment. Although we believe that each has alegitimate role to play in spurring thedevelopment o low-income countries, itis axiomatic that Arica needs increasedtrade and investment to matureeconomically. Yet, ree markets andor-proft businesses do not solve allproblems and, rankly, sometimes createnew ones. Tere will always be a need ornonproft and or-proft social enterprisesto fll gaps. Not all social enterprises arecreated equal, however, and we reject thenotion that good intentions are enough.wo social enterprise modelsembraced by Americans are particularly troubling rom a pro-Arican businessperspective. OMS Shoes popularizedthe buy-one-give-one (BOGO) model,whereby a consumer purchases two pairso shoes, one or hersel and one or a“child in need.” Under the second model,utilized by Goods or Good (GFG), anorganization collects surplus goods andrepurposes them as giveaways in low-income countries. Under both models,companies do well—OMS has madea lot o money and spawned myriadBOGO copycats, while Goods or Goodacts as a conduit or companies to writeo their losses as charitable giving. Yetboth models are a orm o dumping,which oten harms local entrepreneursand perpetuates the stereotype thatthe recipients are our dependents.Te economic reality is that theseorganizations would oster greater socialimpact by investing time, energy andmoney in locally driven businesses andcommunity initiatives.Te proprietors o these awedmodels are well-intentioned peoplewith a misunderstanding o poverty alleviation in developing countries. According to the New York imes,OMS acknowledges that it is “not inthe business o poverty alleviation,” but you would never know that rom itsmarketing campaigns, which exclaim,“ry the shoes that sparked a globalmovement to improve children’s lives.”Similarly, Goods or Good’s websiteboasts, “you have known us as theorganization that provides materialresource to Arican communities. Now… we help these same communitiesgenerate their own resources.” It is clearthat both organizations are strugglingto orge an internally consistentidentity. At the center o this strugglelies an irreconcilable incongruity between viewing Aricans as partners ineconomic growth and relegating themto the counterproductive stereotypes o the past.o be air, dumpers are not all bad.Goods dumped in poor countries do notalways displace existing local industry (although they certainly suppressthe emergence o new industry). In
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