The Power of Pennies
The global humanitarian crises are desperate and sadly appear all too permanent. Statistics and stories from boooks like Billion Bootstraps, Out of Poverty, and Dead Aid reveal the lasting ineffectiveness of the billions we’ve poured into the developing world for decades. There has to be a better way. At the recent Willow Creek Leadership Summit Andrew Rugasira powerfully challenged western leaders to stop sending donations to Africa. As he also said in this clip from youtube; the crucial long term need is business development. As the slogan goes: trade not aid. Marketing guru Seth Godin offers his own twist on the same subject with his typical sensibility and reduction. He emphasizes the difference between being a few cents short at the end of each day versus being a few cents ahead. the impact is dramatic. We need to learn how to distinguish urgent situaions like natural disasters from long term systemic issues. The response to each is entirely different. Giving for the victims of Hurricane Katrina or the Tsunami in Asia is noble and right, many of us do and should respond to emergencies. While we do that we need to recognise that it is a form of generosity that does not produce lasting change in communities or countries. At Catalyst we have decided that our organizational funds are not going to be used for emergency relief. Privately we may respond, but strategically we are convinced we have more to offer by investing in organizations that are creatively and effectively using market principles toward sustainable change. It requires patience and careful consideration, but it is the path to meaningful development.