he private sector has long been seen as an engine for economic growth, but it has in recent years also increasingly been recognized as a crucial player and partner in international development. While the manner of business’ involvement is still under contention, some companies are beginning to join the shared value movement by transforming traditional corporate social responsibility activities to better respond to their possible new job description.
Heightened interest and optimism about business’ place in development have been triggered in large part by austerity measures that have forced many traditional donors and donor countries to tighten their belts on development aid. Unsurprisingly, mobilizing domestic resources and leveraging private finance for development objectives were among the hottest topics at the recently concluded third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
By generating jobs and contributing taxes to the government, business plays an important part in a country’s economic development. However, the global development community — particularly civil society — remains less sure about just how far the sector can go in working to eradicate extreme poverty and promote human rights globally.
‘Excited but skeptical’
While business revenues keep economies afloat, the reality is that tax evasion and illicit financial flows keep the money from trickling down and improving conditions for the world’s poorest.