Entrepreneurship is a common buzz word these days, but the developing world and entrepreneurship? Not yet. But why not? The great country of the United States was founded on a rock bed of entrepreneurs who were living in poverty and unsafe work conditions, who wanted something better, and were willing to work and fight to get it.
I met a Swiss man named Widmer who is working towards helping entrepreneurs in the developing world to get access to the things they need (like collateral to apply for credit) to successfully launch a business that creates jobs in their community, and creates wealth.
We talked about charity for the developing world, staggering statistics like 12% of the world’s population lives in Africa; the continent receives 29% of the world’s aid, and only gets 12.5% of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) dollars. Meaning that we are will to throw money at Africa, but not actually invest. And what good is throwing money at a problem? This goes back to giving a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for his life. There is a certain moral hazard that comes with giving money to people without requiring something in return, and creating a culture of dependency, and apathy. I would likely not look for an entry level job if my parents paid all of my bills, but how does that really help me? Am I developing my own human capital? Skills? Desire for something better? No, I dare say that would not be a favor to me, to provide my living.
I can hear the protests now; “but they’re starving!” “What about natural disasters?” and more (feel free to post in the comments and I will defend or explain any position written here). We discussed in pastoral counseling, there are two types of counseling: crisis counseling and long-term counseling. Crisis counseling addresses the immediate needs and the crisis for the person, and is short term. When the initial crisis has passed, the person would either have their needs met and end counseling completely, or switch to long-term care with a different counselor (the switch to a different counselor is key to avoiding a “redeemer” complex on the part of the counselor). In crisis counseling, the counselor takes over and addresses the immediate needs; in the case of Haiti, the US took over the airport and starts directing aid organizations to where they need to go to effectively feed the people. In long term counseling, the counselor never tells the patient what to do, but simply listens and tries to empower them to make good decisions for themselves.
When talking about giving aid to the developing world, sending a bunch of westerners to the countries to direct and decide how and what to do with the aid, you have the case of counseling that is not be used correctly, and so is not effective. Obviously, if Africa has received the average of $5000 per every person on the African continent since 1949 and is still in severe poverty, then the approachesEconomics of the last 50 years are seriously flawed.
We must change our strategy of “helping” from this short term, crisis, sympathetic attitude towards the developing world, and start focusing on long-term, empathetic empowerment strategies that result in economic development and the creation of more real wealth. That is the platform that I will be using to begin to explore how this can take place and how people who are truly suffering can begin to help to end their own suffering. Stay tuned.