Pathway for the Future

This book is focused at the micro level and includes many case studies drawn from business, government, and civil society.

Strategies that work, along with those that have not worked, are carefully examined using concepts and theories from economics and business. Applying a pragmatic problem-solving approach, the book proposes strategies that have the potential to work much better.

Chapters 2 through 4 analyze the failure of the libertarian approach. Chapter 2 briefly describes the microcredit movement and assesses the empirical evidence, which leads to the conclusion that microcredit does not significantly reduce poverty. The reasons microcredit has not been more beneficial are also discussed. Chapter 3 analyzes the BOP proposition to show that it is empirically false and logically flawed. The BOP market has proved just too small and not all that attractive. Chapter 4 argues that the BOP proposition is also morally problematic. The romanticized view that the poor are, in the words of C.K. Prahalad, “resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers,” not only results in overemphasis on microcredit and underemphasis on providing meaningful employment opportunities for the poor, but also ignores the clear need for protective legal, regulatory, and social mechanisms and the important role of the state in poverty reduction.

Chapters 5 through 8 develop strategies for poverty reduction that are effective, and outline the appropriate roles for business, government, and civil society. Chapter 5 focuses on how business can satisfy the needs of the poor and simultaneously make a profit. While such opportunities are nowhere as pervasive as the BOP proposition suggests, they occasionally do exist. Guidelines are given that would help to increase these win-win opportunities. Chapter 6 discusses the critical role of employment in poverty reduction, including what government policies are needed to facilitate the growth of business and employment. Chapters 5 and 6 both emphasize the important role that business must play in poverty reduction in both providing beneficial products to the poor and creating employment opportunities. Chapter 7 looks at market failures and the way they produce social inequality. It underscores the reasons government needs to take a strong role in regulation and public services to improve the poors’ quality of life. Chapter 8 analyzes the distinct characteristics of the three sectors and focuses on the role of civil society in reducing poverty.

Poverty is a big and complex problem, but it is not unsolvable. It is outrageous that poverty is so pervasive and persistent despite the fact that the problem is solvable. Developing effective strategies to fight it requires analysis of current approaches and new ideas. All of us have a moral responsibility to help eliminate poverty. Moral rage should lead to both private and public action.

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