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V K Madhavan

Operations Director , A4e India Pvt Ltd


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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 17 2011: Very good point.

    To give the wrong man a Ferrari could spell his doom, as he may quickly be killed for what he possesses. For an american to win the lottery, they may fall back into the financial ruin they began in before the end of the decade.

    It can be detrimental to just throw a product at someone, and expect it to change a culture. You are missing the humanity in the situation when you do this. I would appeal to psychologists and sociologists. We are talking about social engineering here. We are talking about eradicating poverty, changing everything about the way a person lives day to day. Without realizing the propensity of greed, the draw of power, the desire of wealth, you are announcing a diamond mine find in the middle of a country in turmoil.

    A Ferrari is an end goal type of item. Lets be clear I do not hope to see a Ferrari in every individuals hands in the world. But it is transportation, and it requires maintenance, it requires infrastructure.

    Eradicating poverty requires a step by step program. It requires covering the basics in something like Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

    Someone needs to develop a community specific Hierarchy of Needs. A step by step process, that requires the community buy in, and understand, be educated about the process. They need incentive. They need protection.

    Step one to me, is clean water and basic sanitary education.

    Education is also a difficult topic. How do you raise the standard of living of a culture, without destroying what makes that culture, a culture.

    Wealthy regions should adopt the poorest regions and provide protection, a stable habitat where culture can define. It should be as hands off a process as possible. Let these people, with gentle prods, walk themselves out of poverty. Thats real ownership.


    There is a great potential in the world today.

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