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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
28 mei 2005

Shell Foundation describes four solutions on poverty

Shell Foundation, a charity erected in 2000, argues that fifty years of international development assistance did bring much short-term relief and some successes in combating deadly diseases, but has not addressed the fact that still about two billion people are living in absolute poverty. A real breakthrough however would be a massive expansion of enterprise, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises. But, the report states, "this requires donors and recipients to think very differently about what they do." Top-down solutions from donor governments should be replaced by a market-oriented approach and nurturing enterprises that supply goods and services to poor people, employ poor people or are owned by poor people. This nurturing pro-poor enterprises should be done with local capital, local capacities and sound business models, the report states, and that is where the skills, knowledge and networks of multinationals come in handy. "If accessed and deployed appropriately, they can add enormous social value to civil society efforts to promote enterprise and tackle poverty." How this can be realised is illustrated with four detailed case studies in Africa and India. They demonstrate initiatives that go beyond charity or traditional ways of corporate social responsibility. Shell Foundation invites the international development and business community to address three questions: how to increase the scale and effectiveness of pro-poor interventions, how to make pro-poor enterprise growth an integral part of poverty-reduction strategies, and how to engage especially big business more effectively in tackling poverty. In conclusion, the report calls for partnerships between public and private bodies to be recast along business lines. Since increased aid, fairer trade and cancelled debt have proven not to be decisive in poverty reduction, the report 'Enterprise Solutions to Poverty' deserves a louder response in the Netherlands than is perceived until now. International newspapers already recognized the importance of the report. P+ Webtip: Shell Foundation Report