In a context of innovation and experimentation around philanthropic approaches, there is a window of opportunity to redefine the models to be adopted, amongst which stand out new practices from the emerging world.
After an interactive survey with the audience on their thoughts on philanthropreneurship in emerging countries, the panel on “Emerging Markets, Emerging Solutions” at the 2015 Philanthropreneurship Forum, moved on to discuss the specific situation in India. Ms Gargi Banerji, Founder of PRAGYA and Mr. Shiv Vikram Khemka, Chairman of The Global Education & Leadership Foundation, talked about the country that has experienced important developments in innovation as well as resistance to change. An example of this is the responses to the 2% CSR Law, which has made charity practices mandatory.
“Many are still evading it but those who were into giving, they are looking at more strategic giving now,” said Ms Banerji. She acknowledged a shift in trends including the diffusion of development – something that was traditionally reserved to the government and that is now being open to other players.
The panel also explored the differences between the European and American models compared to those originated in emerging countries. Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet pointed out that Africa has not had the chance to develop wealth at the same scale as the developed world. However, the lack of natural and institutional underpinnings to create a welfare system actually pushes entrepreneurs to give a large proportion of what they produce.
“Most people don’t think of Africa as being philanthropist but the truth is, small enterprises – as small as they are – do give an extraordinary amount of what they have,” said Mr. Masiyiwa.
As in India’s case, it is still an early stage, particularly because there are no governments in Africa that feel compelled to engage in this conversation as there are not yet that many people with private wealth at the sufficient scale.
“As exciting as the idea of being a social entrepreneur is in a country like India, the idea of taking anything to scale for hardware is very complicated and so finding the combination of companies that can really take the solutions to scale is critical to solving these problems,” added Mr. Shashi Buluswar, CEO of the Institute For Transformative Technologies, And Lecturer, UC Berkeley.
Collaboration between governments, NGOs, foundations, entrepreneurships, the private sector and philanthropists is needed to tackle a challenge of such a scale. Successful examples are being witnessed, such as the response to Ebola in Africa, which brought together African business leaders, the African Development Bank, governments and ordinary people, each contributing with the resources at their disposal.
Elaborating on this, Mr. Masiyiwa highlighted the importance of collaboration from a global perspective. He underlined that “creating jobs or agriculture in Africa is not an African problem, it’s a global problem”, and so are other issues throughout the emerging world.
However, there are pressing challenges specific to emerging countries with weak states and welfare systems. Both the audience and the panel underlined the lack of trust and corruption present in these countries. To overcome this obstacle, technology can be a powerful tool, for instance by developing mobile wallets to directly transfer subsidies to beneficiaries.
A special focus was also made on the demographic challenge that many emerging economies face. With a large proportion of the population being young people, there is a need to quickly create jobs.
“We are confronted with the same demographic issues around development. One of the biggest challenges is time, we don’t have the time,” warned Mr. Strive Masiyiwa.
Finally, the panelists raised the issue of values and ethics. Mr. Masiyiwa reminded us that in spite of the great potential of the changing environment, such as new technologies, these are just resources that could be used for good or for evil. “Philanthropy is not so much about the technology and the delivery platform, it’s about the hearts and values of people, who want to go out and use their resources to bring about change in the societies in which they live.”