Business Fights Poverty

I read a blog on this network recently by Dr Andree Carter which compelled me to respond.

Andree writes:

“I’ve been working with The UK’s Technology Strategy Board to understand where there might be opportunities for UK researchers and the private sector to develop joint programmes to tackle some of the global challenges. It’s a great idea but the best approaches and potential needs scoping out before funding can be invested. TSB want to appoint a person to do this who has a good understanding of development challenges and a strong business / innovation background. So what’s the problem? Either we aren’t reaching the right community with the job advertising or there genuinely aren’t many people out there to take on such a role? What do people think?”

Andree Carter, Director UKCDS.

I can’t answer your blog Andree because Business Fights Poverty is a club that wouldn’t have me as a members.  I lasted but a few days before being blocked permanently.

The reason for this I was told was that I’d described our efforts to tackle corruption, though in hindsight I suspect it was more to do with us being a business fighting poverty.

It began in practical terms with our work in Russia and the Tomsk Regional Initative and this along with a follow on project for Crimea’s repatriated Tatars,  was described in an interview when we incorporated in the UK in 2004.

As you may read, the Crimea proposal argued the case for capitalism with a social objective, in this case  prevention of terrorism through development in a peaceful Muslim community. Some now refer to this approach as Creating Shared Value.

In 2004 we introduced our social business model to the UK with a business plan to tackle poverty,  arguing that capitalism is an insufficient economic model.

Our next 7 years were spent back in Ukraine where we researched and developed a strategy for microeconomic development and social enterprise taking the stance of publishing online .

We introduced this work to USAID and the British Council and whether they care to admit it or not, the project they began several years later was a direct consequence of our efforts, albeit with the major social objective, institutionalised and neglected children, removed.

As our now deceased founder pointed out in his notes, there were places international development didn’t want to go.  One of these was  challenging vested economic interests about  what we’d described as ‘Death Camps, For Children‘.

We could have achieved far more in our efforts to place all childen in loving family homes with a little support.   On one side we faced a relentless defamation campaign, denying the problems we’d uncovered and on the other censorship by the like of Business Fights Poverty, who presumably saw us as some kind of threat to their comfortable pulpit.

When USAID solicited applications for grant funding in 2007 we were left hanging and after 3 months escalated the issue with USAID.  We were toe to toe with organised crime in foxholes, silos and trenches.

Business in the Community  was another of these clubs that wouldn’t have us as a member, but CEO Steven Howard had no qualms about talking  our walk when suggesting a business case for responsible business.

“What is needed is a form of capitalism that is driven by businesses which not only think about the short term returns but also about building longer term sustainable businesses that create economic, environmental and social value – what McKinsey & Co call ‘long-term capitalism’.”

Given our experience, which led to the death of our founder last year, I asked my MP and immigration minister Mark Harper for his support recently, pointing out to him that if government and their corporate partners act like the criminals behind human trafficking, there is little chance of us tackling such an issue.  As you might expect he didn’t reply.

You ask why you’re not finding the right people.  The experience I relate above should give some answers.


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