An estimate of 260 000 MBA (Master of Business Administration) graduates are pumped into the global market each year, joining an electric, powerful army in the chase of business opportunities. Their effects are felt in many ways, in big and small things: The other day I went to downtown Stockholm for a meeting. The receptionist greeted me in English, good morning, what company are you visiting today? And I thought well, there’s an MBA around caring for me, for my visit to the business center to be a pleasant experience where I feel international and busy.In the meeting room, we worked on an idea for a joint project between a company and Diakonia. How to use business modeling tools for poor entrepreneurs to sharpen their businesses, from street vending to farming. This can change lives.
Coming from the development sector, I find it very inspiring to work with private companies, full of creativity and drive. Their muscle is key in the fight against poverty. By expanding their products and services, or modifying the way they do business, many things can be improved, from cuts in CO2 emissions to minimum wages.
But often we come to compete in setting the development agenda. The Guardian, quoting a Global Compact and Accenture report, writes that “NGOs no longer set the development agenda”. Another example: the editor in chief of the think tank Frivärld Henrik Sundbom came to a similar conclusion: “the private sector can manage on their own”, referring to the textile industry as a tool for poverty eradication in Bangladesh. But from the perspective of Diakonia, this is not a completion, we all have our role to play.
Many things we want will never be an opportunity for business, or are not affected by business operations, so they’ll never be affected by them. I’m a father of two girls. If a company offered me, for a fee, equal loan for equal work for the rest of their lives I would pay. So would all parents to girls, and most parents to boys, and many others. Are we not a great business opportunity, an unexplored market? If we were, some MBAs would have master-planned a business case for me to chip in. But so far, I see no flyers and no banners. There are some things that money can buy, for the rest, there’s civil society.
Domingo Torres Santos,