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What roles do entrepreneurship and capitalism play in bringing prosperity to the developing world? At an AEI event on Tuesday, Michael Gerson of the ONE Campaign began addressing this question by explaining some of the barriers to business he has seen in Africa, including the fact that under the wrong circumstances, aid and oil can prop up and strengthen elites. Gerson expressed hope in new forms of commercial-focused aid, such as the kind U2's Bono recently advocated, for improving health and creating better-functioning institutions rather than simply distributing monetary assistance.
Chris Horst of HOPE International noted that while there has been genuine financial growth in new businesses in Africa — for example, the growth spurred by Rwanda's entrepreneurs — we must not view the war on poverty as simply an economic struggle. Andrea McDaniel described how her As We Forgive Rwanda Initiative is primarily promoting reconciliation, not business — and yet reconciliation lays the groundwork for trust and economic development in the communities where she works.
Though the importance of commerce in the developing world may be a new priority for rockstars such as Bono, the on-the-ground stories from Gerson, Horst, and McDaniel demonstrate that the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in the developing world. The panelists agreed that spirit is crucial for spurring economic growth and human flourishing.
This fall, U2’s Bono made public his “humbling” observations about the role of entrepreneurship and capitalism in helping the poverty-stricken communities of the developing world. At the F.ounders Conference in Dublin, he said: “Job creators and innovators are the key . . . aid is just a bridge.” During his visit to Georgetown University on November 12, he acknowledged that “commerce and entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than economic aid — of course we know that.”
Free enterprise is not an idea owned by one political party; it is central to the American identity and critical for sustaining economic growth. How should compassionate citizens think about aid and entrepreneurship? What can we learn from firsthand experiences of those who have worked to promote economic growth in places like Rwanda? Please join this conversation on the roles of entrepreneurship and capitalism in bringing prosperity to the developing world.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Josh Good, AEI
Michael Gerson, The Washington Post and ONE Campaign
Chris Horst, HOPE International
Andrea McDaniel, As We Forgive Rwanda Initiative
Wine and Cheese Reception
For more information about this Values & Capitalism quarterly event, please contact Greg Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.862.4879.
For media inquiries, please contact MediaServices@aei.org, 202.862.5829.
Michael Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in The Washington Post. He is the author of “Heroic Conservatism” (HarperOne, 2007) and co-author of “City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era” (Moody, 2010). Gerson serves as senior adviser at ONE, a bipartisan organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases. He is the Hastert Fellow at the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College in Illinois. He is co-chair of the Poverty Forum and co-chair of the Catholic/Evangelical Dialogue with Ron Sider. From 2006 to 2009, Gerson was the Roger Hertog Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Before joining CFR in 2006, Gerson was a top aide to President George W. Bush as assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning. Before that appointment, he served in the White House as deputy assistant to the president and director of presidential speechwriting and assistant to the president for speechwriting and policy advisor.
Josh Good is the program manager for the Values & Capitalism initiative at AEI. Good previously spent four years as a consultant at ICF International, and he has also worked on several public-private partnerships that serve ex-prisoners, low-income fathers, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare officials.
Chris Horst serves as director of development for HOPE International, where he has worked for six years. In addition to his role at HOPE, Chris serves as president of the Colorado Microfinance Alliance and is on the advisory council for the Denver Faith & Justice Conference and the “Q Cities: Denver” event. He is currently writing a book with HOPE's president, Peter Greer, called "Mission Drift," scheduled for release in 2014 through Baker Publishing Group.
Andrea McDaniel is co-founder of the As We Forgive Rwanda Initiative and a senior adviser for Middle East Programs at the Aspen Institute. She has extensive experience in government and the private sector, including more than five years at the US Department of State. While there, she focused on public-private partnerships and established a federal office responsible for facilitating private-sector participation in worldwide public diplomacy initiatives. Before her service at the State Department, Andrea worked in the Executive Office of the President of the United States.