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Launch of the Creating Value for All Report on Capitol Hill

Overview

Over 130 legislators, NGO leaders, business and international development actors gathered in the Capitol Building for the launch of Creating Value for All: Strategies for Doing Business with the Poor, which highlights the potential win-win of wealth creation while pursuing human development.

The ground-breaking report offers strategies and tools for companies to expand beyond traditional business practices and bring in the world’s poor as partners in growth. Part of UNDP’s Growing Inclusive Market’s initiative, the report draws on extensive case studies and demonstrates the effectiveness—both for human progress and for wealth creation—of more inclusive business models.

“This is not primarily about charity, but about business making profits and pursuing business interests that also benefit the poor,” said UNDP Administrator Kemal Derviş who hosted the panel discussion. “Sustainable business has to be profitable.” He noted that while it has taken a long time to agree that development and private entrepreneurship must go hand in hand, private direct investment has increased and now the private sector agenda, as illustrated by the work of the Growing Inclusive Markets Initiative, is one of the pillars of UNDP’s human development agenda.

He also stressed the important of looking at the gender in the private sector’s development role. Many entrepreneurs are women and many of potential customers and employees are women. To that effect, UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa Gender Unit and the GIM Initiative are looking to develop programmes involving women entrepreneurs.

Administrator Derviş was joined on the panel by bipartisan members of the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee—Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), two leading development agency heads—James Kunder, Acting Deputy Administrator of USAID, and Jean-Michel Severino, Director General of the Agence Française de Développement, as well as John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise.This impressive group reflected the multi-stakeholder interests of the GIM initiative and its call for cooperation between businesses, governments and civil society organizations.

“This report goes beyond artificial distinctions,” said Jean-Michel Severino, Director General, Agence Française de Développement, specifically referring to the portrayal ofprivate corporations as agents of public policy and the evidence of private sector engaging with governments. He also praised the concrete processes for involving the poor in business models and new ways of financing the private sector discussed in Creating Value for All.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey stressed that development cannot be done by government alone—the poor need to participate in the market and, as is described in the report, empowering the poor to improve their lives through economic advancement is the approach that is needed.

Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson congratulated UNDP for the publication of the Growing Inclusive Markets report and noted that it sets a “great framework” for discussion on the role of business and development.

James Kunder, Acting Deputy Administrator of USAID,said the Creating Value for All report “challenges us to increase interactions with the private sector.”He emphasized the need for better infrastructure and capitalizing on the resources of the poor as both consumers and producers.

John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise, encouraged business leaders to engage in policy dialogue with governments and to build political will for reform. Taking from the recommendations at the end of Creating Value for All, Sullivan laid out three steps to follow for building political will:

    1) identify initial conditions (the poor about barriers that are not obvious to the elite),
    2) mobilize business associations, think tanks and other civil society coalitions, and 3) generate specific policy recommendations.

Issues surrounding private sector involvement were addressed during the question and answer period, including how to encourage a private sector role in areas of conflict. Solid macroeconomic policies, functioning courts and orderly legal systems are fundamental to a thriving business environment. Yet not all countries have the stability needed to establish such basic protections. The panelists agreed that conflict is a greatest single obstacle to sustainable development, and that the public and private sector should strengthen the sharing of risks in a conflict situation.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently issued a call to action on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), urging an international effort to accelerate progress and to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty. By the autumn, UNDP expects that over 50 countries will have launched Creating Value for All, dovetailing with the Secretary-General’s MDG call to action to take place on September 25 in the United Nations General Assembly.

Contact Details

UNDP Washington Liaison Office
1775 K St., NW, Suite 420,
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: 202-331-9130
Fax: 202-331-9363
http://www.us.undp.org/index.shtml