View Thread > Development and the Internet > Entrepreneurship - Question 1 > Enterpreneurship and 'ethical and legal framework where basic human rights are respected'
Please refer to the BusyInternet case study.
From the standpoint of promoting economic and social development in Ghana, what are the most important aspects of what BusyInternet is doing, and how do they contribute to development?
The most important aspects of Busyinternet are the entrepreneurial and the community capacity building: they are not only doing business but they are also providing skills and means for individuals and groups to become more effective within their goals.
Real social and economic changes need to be sustainable in order to be effective and in this way the private sector can be a motor (but not the only) of development. Millions of people lack access to basic services mainly because they are out of the market, they are not included. By developing successful entrepreneurships we can fill the gap and help more people access services and goods.
We can contribute to development by producing induce and at the same time empowering people to fulfil their needs and aspirations. The real challenge stands in making this happen in an ethical and legal framework where basic human rights are respected and we do not just transform all human beings in stupid consumers.
The market is and can be a fantastic tool of development but it has to be monitored and controlled at local, national and international levels. We are all witnesses of the terrible effects of a neo-liberal and money driven one! Letís not make the same mistakes!
Including anyone into the "market" in the name of community development is the "capacity building of that person" to be a service provider for the market. When millions of people lack access to basic services that are defined by a market of a few thousand, it is telling. Telling of the few who are the outsiders who naturally want some of the community (of millions) to have the capacity to provide for them.
A direct result of this is the increased disparity between the rich (the capable) and the poor (the out of the market), as the market makers become bigger in the process. This is acceptable when it is for those in the market to build the necessary capacity of the community for their immediate needs. However when that process is institutionalized through external/government funding and driven to hype about the outcome -- of being part this fad, it can cause unnecessary imbalances in the community. The "community" is pre-emptively "prepared" to serve the "market" and that results in a glut of under-trained but over-expecting sub-community.
In a way putting social and economical development in the same sentence might be oxy-moronic (i.e., contradictory).
When it comes to transformation of societies into perceptive communities, all the "external effort" might better be put into the social transformation ONLY and not the "economic upgradation".
Any skill that a community percieves as necessary, including a skillset to go after the basic ameneties could be a social process. Education would be a social need, not an economic one. Economies of market economics do not scale with economies of social economics. The big reason to drive an economy-based market into frenzy is the drive to be someone else, while the big reason to drive a social market would be the drive to be us. [Not surprisingly, religion based societies appear to go more after a social need than an economic one.]
Let the market work its work. Let us work ours.
Guess the question is who are "we"? [How and why do I identify with the "cause"]
I agree with the basic idea that the Private Sector can be one of the most important tools to bring opportunity to local populations. And I also believe that real PSD óthat is, PSD serving real, rather than aid or other structurally created, needs and that takes place in an open and competitive marketó offers the local community the greatest opportunity to benefit from the economic activity in terms of money, power, capacity-building and social goods.
And I agree that PSD must take place in a regulatory framework that not only protects the entrepreneurs but also the people.
Look at recent entrprises developed in say, Mexico or China, for some specific examples of what can happen when the workers have no protection:
-in China, lack of workplace regulations (and non-enforcement of the few that exist has led to horrific accident rates); with little or no compensation for the afffected individuals
-child and prison labor, as reported in China
-extremely low wages, toxic and abusive working conditions (hours, sanitation, sexual harrassment) have been widely reported in Mexico
And of course there are other examples.
While an over-regulated labor market might be bad (look at Germany as 'the bad example' here), some basic regulations must exist to make sure that the benefits of employment are just that; rather than a new form of misery. So just as an appropriate civil, legal and regulatory framework needs to be developed to support companies, a similar framework needs to be developed to support the company's workers.
And such a framework actually supports entreprenuers because it levels the playing field for all enterprises and provides predictable metrics for employment and related costs.
And much like Goldilocks' porridge challenge, the trick is to develop both commerical and social frameworks that are 'just right' and include mechanisms to respond to changes in the economy, society and science.
In keeping with the ecosystem analogy offered by the authors of this module (Moore et al.), achieving the 'just right' frameworks to optimize the value-add of PSD may equate to incenting the right keystone species. In essence, keystones shape what an ecosystem does (while niche species are what it does).
For details, see Keystones and Dominators: Framing the Operational Dynamics of Business Ecosystems, by Harvard Business School professor Marco Iansiti et al.
Great response. Agree with your points on entrepreneurial and community capacity building. Defining "basic services" could be very different from one person to the next.
Do you really want more monitoring and control, especially in the context of developing countries emerging from military dictatorships and becomming democratic?
I agree there is a problem because better communications bring benefits and yet many aspects of the connected and 'developed' world are negative.
In that context I hate the term 'leapfrogging'. Its okay if it simply means telecoms infrastructure, going straight for wireless links and missing out the copper wire stage, but I'm concerned when it seems to imply 'cultural leapfrogging' as well.
For instance on 'quality of life' issues, there is the concept of 'social vitamins'. Social vitamins are measured by how many people smile at you (worth one) greet you by name (worth five, if they really know your name and haven't just read it off a database) and so on. Centralisation and call centres mean increasing anonymity, contrast that with the local shop or bank where customers were genuinely known by name. Communities that I have visited where there are no telephones score highly on social vitamins.
There are many other possible 'quality of life' examples.
I favour as much connectivity as can possibly be arranged, but think we need to be aware of the down-sides as well as the benefits.
''Busyinternet '' is interesting example and even more interesting experience both for the investors and end users, but I would be most interested what other aspects than ''love for that part of Africa" were the real drivers (motivators) for such enterpreneureal investment. This is particularly interesting for all European countries in transition, Balkan region - if there would be any clue about the enterpreneurial motivations, of course! But, the statistical truth is that majority of all enterpreneurial acts are rather based on ideas how to make (or even take :) money in specific economic and legal context (according to existing rules of law, tax, resources, opportunity for ROI and given timeframe) than to the idea of ''love, creating chances for development and giving a chance to local peole''.
Of course, the impact of enterpreneureal act can have both positive and negative aspects (it is sometimes even hard to get the right point of view and decide which is which regarding further consequences). The best situation is if at longterm basis we can say we got ''win-win'' situation for enterpreneurs and users, but what should be count as longterm in this dynamically changing technology driven and legally ununified global environment?
Here is an indicative example how legal framework and international relations (sanctions or lack of legal power and international IP laws) can interact with the enterpreneurship in the area of technology development. It was happening in some countries of the world not so long time ago and was based on (legal at the point of view of that country) smuggling of hardware devices and piracy software and music CD production.
In the workshop ''Ethics, Law and Enterpreneurship in SEE Countries " we have addressed few issues of enterpreneurial ethics and regularity of doing business on global market and the most discussed topic was intelectual property since there were many cases of ''making business over music/software piracy'' in countries where legal framework was not helpful regarding such international crime. In meantime (that took years) some ''enterpreneurs'' who started with the piracy made initial capital so when the time comes to be legally prosecuted they would highly likely be ''safe and sound enterpreneurs'' in some other industry.
But from the other hand, thanks to their illegal work and dramatically low prices comparing to original software thousands of people (mostly young generations) had the opportunity to get in touch with the techology development at the first place. Then, which is most important to keep up with the subculture of their generation (music trends, computer games).
If legal framework (at the first place) is supporting human rights to have dignified and productive lives in their country that is the most needed but rarely achieved ideal. It can stand for only small percent of countries in the world. In majority of them the sad truth is that there are still ''enterpreneurial'' acts which are using the lack of legislation in some specific field of the activity to produce ''value " or maybe real value - time will tell.
We can think about that on many different ways but the only way to act upon it is to say - ''noone's guilty until he/she can be legally accused / proved as guilty. ''