Goods, Services and Jobs for the Poor

Editor's Note: This brief is part of the 2013 Brookings Blum Roundtable Policy Briefs, which details the role of the private sector in the post-2015 development agenda. Read the full policy brief here.


Market-based solutions have the potential to provide goods, services and jobs for the poor at scale. Success in microcredit and many exciting new ventures have led to an explosive growth in expectations, but the data on the ground are less rosy. Few models are reaching scale. The reason is that these solutions are tackling some of the world toughest problems in difficult environments, and hence they both require innovative solutions and must address ecosystem barriers. Addressing these twin challenges requires significant resources, time and persistence. There are also high chances of failure, and even with success, returns may be moderate. However, given the upside in terms of social impact at scale, it is important to support such solutions, and philanthropies and aid donors have a vital role to play.