Profitable Development Solutions: How the Private Sector Can Contribute to the Post-2015 Agenda

A Report from the 2013 Brookings Blum Roundtable on Global Poverty

Deliberations around the expiration of the Millennium
Development Goals and what comes after them are
infused with optimism that the end of extreme poverty
is within the world’s grasp. 

When United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon
convened a high-level panel to forge a new global
post-2015 Development Agenda, the centerpiece
of the group’s final report called for “eradicating
extreme poverty from the face of the earth by 2030.”  The prospects for achieving this goal do not seem so
far-fetched; half a billion people have been lifted out
of extreme poverty (those living under $1.25 per day)
since 2000 alone. However, further progress will require
broad-based and sustainable economic growth across
the developing world, innovative and affordable ways
to deliver basic needs for the poor as well as major
new investments to tackle global challenges such as
climate change. Addressing these issues will require an all-hands-on-deck approach from all
the players involved in international
development. Notably, the private
sector—from small and medium-sized
enterprises to major global corporations—
must play an expanded role if
this vision is to be realized.

By some measures, this shift is
well underway. In 2011, the combined
private flows of the 23 traditional
donor countries (members of
the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development’s
Development Assistance Committee)
were four times larger than their official
development assistance. Private
equity funds have become increasingly
significant players in the developing
world, even in Sub-Saharan Africa,
where the size of investment funds
and private capital investment in the
region expanded 15-fold and 5-fold
respectively in the 2000s. Meanwhile, the developing
world is benefiting from the proliferation of thousands
of social enterprises that seek to lower the price
and increase the accessibility of a range of goods
and services for the very poor while still turning a
(modest) profit. 

Download the full introduction »


Reimagining the Role of the Private Sector in Global Development 

This essay identifies actionable areas that can enhance
the development impact of private sector activity while
overcoming the mistrust of other development stakeholders.
It presents a taxonomy of various private sector
actors that distinguishes among the range of constraints
they face in contributing to poverty alleviation.

Read the essay (PDF) | Views from the Private Sector (PDF)


Goods, Services and Jobs for the Poor: Creating the Conditions for Private Investment


This essay argues that investments in individual
enterprises serving low-income customers can be
complemented by focused efforts to foster the industry
“ecosystem” within which enterprises operate. It
suggests that this approach may offer the most
promising path for accelerating the discovery of
enterprise solutions and the speed with which they
are brought to scale.

Read the essay (PDF) | Views from Researchers & Advocates (PDF)


Advancing US Leadership in Development


This essay explores the key issues
facing the US government as it
engages with the private sector
in pursuit of development goals.
It offers suggestions for the US
government as it deepens such
engagement in the post-2015
Development Agenda process..

Read the essay (PDF) | Views from Public Officials (PDF)