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V K Madhavan

Operations Director , A4e India Pvt Ltd

TEDCRED 200+

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Mere transfer of approaches and processes from successful enterprises to poverty eradication will not work, and could set back efforts too

Increasingly, with entrepreneurs turning their attention to poverty eradication - rarely to address the root causes of injustice or inequality- approaches and processes used successfully in enterprises are being used for social development and poverty eradication. There is a belief that (a) profit - the greatest incentive - is the crucial differentiator to solve problems that have hitherto remained and (b) that a simple solution or product exists or can be created, for every problem - a solution or product that can be made available on a large scale with the accompanying economies.
The process of finding simple solutions is leading to an over-simplification of why poverty exists and persists. The belief that 'a product' exists for every need - it only needs to be invented if it doesn't exist - doesn't recognise the inherent complexity of human life and motivations.
The emphasis on 'products' rather than in 'processes' and 'people' is leading to the root causes for poor governance and the persistence of poverty being swept aside.
We need to pause and apply tools that make for successful enterprises selectively without losing sight of the fact that the reasons for poverty are not just complex but intrinsically linked to human emotions - fear, love, hatred, desire, ambition, shame, insecurity, joy ....
The need for the hour is for a hybrid approach to social development - in other words a new path and not a blind belief that the 'market' offers solution to all our problems.

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    Feb 15 2011: While I agree with you, I also feel that the poverty is the 'here and now' while the underlying causes are more intangible, and also more difficult to address. Also, there is probably a feeling that if the symptom can be taken care of then the malaise itself would be treated in due course. Maybe we need more initiatives like Gramin Bank - where the women getting loans also take a oath not to give or take dowry for their children. Also, the symptom - malaise thing may have something in it. When you empower people by meeting their very basic needs, then maybe they are in a better position to take on the underlying causes. Wishful thinking? maybe.

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