Promoting Sustainable Change in Africa (Part 3 of 3)

African leaders have also become increasingly savvy about leveraging corporate self-interest to advance broader societal needs. Coca-Cola, for instance, is working with USAID in Malawi and Mali to bring water-purification technology to both its plants and local water projects. Since 80% of Coke’s products are water-based, Coke’s corporate leaders are acting upon their vested interest in bringing clean water to these regions.

According to Pamela White, Tanzania Mission Director, USAID, the same goes for Mars, Inc, “Over 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, which means that when you eat chocolate, you are supporting small independent African farmers. USAID seeks to help those farmers improve their productivity and join the global economy, while Mars sees the prosperity of smallholder farmers as critical to the future of cocoa production.”

Included in an issue focusing on Africa from the Case Foundation, Liberian-born Monique Maddy, who currently serves as entrepreneur-in-Residence for Google, states:

Africa needs the kinds of jobs that are created primarily by foreign and local investors and entrepreneurs -- jobs that will provide its people with incomes that allow them to produce, to consume, and to educate and care for their children. Take the Coca-Cola Company -- one of the largest contributors to economic development in Africa. More by enlightened self-interest than by calculated design, the Coca-Cola Company is the largest private-sector employer in Africa. The company has more than 60,000 employees on the continent and estimates that another 10 indirect jobs are created for each direct one, as a result of related manufacturing, supply, sales, marketing, and distribution activities.

In that same issue, where Case argues against approaches that are “compassion heavy but impact light”, Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund, succinctly sums up the challenge:

Too many people are still talking in terms of teaching men to fish in Africa. I have never met a person who lives near water in Africa who doesn't know how to fish. What is needed instead are better technologies and design innovations to make their fishing more effective; more information and eased trade restrictions so that more markets are available; and connections, networks, and management skills that can help people grow their businesses. Africans also need real jobs. This is where change begins -- that moment when people have expanded choice about how to pursue better lives for themselves and their children.

Susan Herr

Posted at 1:56 AM, Jan 28, 2008 in Cross-Sectoral Strategies | Economic Development | Global Philanthropy | High Net Worth Donors | Scaling Philanthropy | Social Entreprenuers | Permalink | Comment