What roles do entrepreneurship and capitalism play in bringing prosperity to the developing world? At our event at AEI on Tuesday, Michael Gerson of the ONE Campaign began addressing this question by explaining some of the barriers to business he has seen in Africa, including the fact that under the wrong circumstances, aid and oil can prop up and strengthen elites. Gerson expressed hope in new forms of commercial-focused aid, such as the kind U2′s Bono recently advocated, for improving health and creating better-functioning institutions rather than simply distributing monetary assistance.
Chris Horst of HOPE International noted that while there has been genuine financial growth in new businesses in Africa—for example, the growth spurred by Rwanda’s entrepreneurs—we must not view the war on poverty as simply an economic struggle.
Andrea McDaniel described how her As We Forgive Rwanda Initiative is primarily promoting reconciliation, not business—and yet reconciliation lays the groundwork for trust and economic development in the communities where she works.
Though the importance of commerce in the developing world may be a new priority for rockstars such as Bono, the on-the-ground stories from Gerson, Horst and McDaniel demonstrate that the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in the developing world. The panelists agreed that spirit is crucial for spurring economic growth and human flourishing.
See below for full video from the event: