Weekly round-up – Private Actors

Shotgun Shack has an entire series about the intersection/ cooperation between the corporate and the development world.

The most famous philanthropists (philanthrocapitalists?)  right now, Bill and Melinda Gates make an impassionate argument about eradicating polio and convincing people to give away their wealth and give back to the community/ world.

In the meantime, Google discovers that philanthropy (philanthrocapitalism) is hard. It’s a good illustration of how the business and development (and engineering) cultures differ. But apparently, Pepsi has had an easier time with it. It even entered into a partnership with the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank), making it the first private-sector organization to do so. However, it is important to remember that not all public-private partnerships are positive or uncontroversial, as this critique of CIDA’s (Canadian International Development Agency) subsidy for some of the world’s biggest mining companies highlights.

Even more, amidst all this enthusiasm for CSR or similar, it is important not to forget that not everything companies do has a positive impact on development.

Speaking of the Global Compact, the UN and HR NGOs have been making pressure for an (ideally legally binding) framework for business and human rights. Read about the latest developments for example here (highly recommended). And since we mentioned EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative), here is a brief about it and about (the more stringent) domestic US legislation.

Also, Whitney sends along an interview with World Vision’s President and CEO (formerly a corporate executive, indirectly appearing also in last week’s readings), speaking among other about has incorporated some aspects of the private sector, while also grappling with the challenges specific to a development NGO.

Speaking of WV, here are some links to the “NFL loosing team t-shirts donation controversy” which was mentioned in class a while ago. There has been a lot written on the topic, the gist of it being (i) that t-shirt donations can have a negative impact on the local economy, and (ii) that the appropriate valuation for the t-shirts (which has important implications in terms of calculating overhead etc.) is hard to determine and can be misleading. A similar controversy – “the 1 million shirts debate” won last year’s ABBA (Aid Best Blogger’s Award) for “Best Aid Debate going ‘on and on and on‘”.

WV has written a couple of replies to the criticisms, but the bigger issue –  about the right way to give GIK (Gifts In Kind) – is probably not going away soon. And of course there are the SWEDOW awards (also here and here, I’ll let you figure out what that means). On the bright side, there are flowcharts on how to decide on what to do with SWEDOW, and Rwanda has banned the import of second-hand underwear.

Finally, because you asked, here is a brief about how advocacy work could be monitored and evaluated, and information on some efforts to increase NGO coordination in the field.

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