Guy Pfeffermann responds to NextBillion's blog article "Local Capacity Building and Business Development at the Base of the Pyramid," an interview with Simon
Winter, TechnoServe's Senior Vice President of Development:
thoroughly agree with Simon Winter’s plea for capacity-building. As he points
out, all countries where the majority have reached decent living standards have
one thing in common: reasonably well-functioning local institutions,
including, what he calls "a web of local organizations Local institutions were
strengthened by tapping the "world shelf of experience and knowledge." Only
international partnerships and cooperation can ensure a sustained infusion of
knowledge. Those who think that nurturing such flows of knowledge on an
on-going basis is "neo-colonial” should ask themselves what is the alternative? Nations as different as Japan, Korea, Botswana, Costa Rica and Slovenia all
have developed elaborate networks of enduring linkages between local and
foreign institutions which serve their development needs. Surely, the
alternative is stagnation – North Korea is the most dramatic example – or
endless dependence on handouts.
raison d’être of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) is to link up local
and foreign institutions – in this case business schools, which are an
essential part of what Simon Winter calls a "sustainable ecosystem” for growing
small firms. Our experience is that knowledge flows in many directions, and not
only, as critics maintain, from "North” to "South”. Local business schools
benefit from the experience of schools in other "Southern” countries as well as
from Europe and the US; and European and American students and faculty are
thirsty for knowledge of the on-the-ground realities in developing countries.
The mutual quest for knowledge ensures sustainability.
capacity-building is so important, why do aid organizations, public and
private, do so little of it (while they talk a great deal about it) ? As
Francis Fukuyama pointed out in State-Building – Governance and World Order in
the 21st Century, aid organizations have a strong preference for funding
programs, which show quantifiable results within a short time – one to three
years. As Simon Winter shows so eloquently, capacity-building is an on-going,
long-haul, endeavor. Outcomes are notoriously hard to measure. Given the choice
between sending consultants to a country that will vaccinate 200,000 children –
something that can be measured easily – and enhancing the capacity of a local
school of public health over many years, most funders will choose the former.
Fortunately, quite recently, more grants are incorporating capacity-building
components. That is excellent news for developing countries and in particular
the Base of the Pyramid.
Read the original article and other responses
Guy Pfeffermann is the CEO and founder of the Global Business School Network.