Written by William Smith, Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute:
“There is huge interest now within the international development community on the role of business in development, including how business can contribute to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals or to a new post-2015 development framework.
Often, this debate is framed in terms of how governments or international bodies should stop businesses doing bad things – through regulation, standard setting, or transparency initiatives. Or, alternatively, in terms of how businesses could improve their impact through partnerships with donors or governments. These discussions are valid but tend to lose sight of the fact that it is businesses, not the UN or government departments , that actually generate ‘development’: creating jobs, buying goods and services from poor people, generating government revenues, manufacturing medicines, building roads. The ‘development community’ should perhaps approach the issue of private-sector engagement with heightened realism and humility. Don’t ask what business can do for your development agenda. Ask instead what your agenda can do for business. It is in this spirit that ODI’s Business Development Exchange programme , funded by AusAID, seeks to approach the question of how donors should engage with business.”
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