Break-out session: Targeting winners or losers? Policy choices around socio-economic development

One strand of policies focuses on the protection of vulnerable people and the development of basic services. Another aims to build on medium-scale entrepreneurs and to promote economic development. Are the two strands really different? Can they be complementary?

Moderator: Winnie Wairimu (IS Academy). Break-out round 2.

This session brings together Ian Christoplos (consultant, Danish Institute for International Studies), Sjoerd Smit (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and Rudolf Scheffer (Oxfam Novib), to discuss these questions.

Ian Christoplos critically discusses three key assumptions of the trickle-down effect that regained popularity in recent years: (i) overall economic development will benefit everyone because the economy will get rolling, (ii) enterprises founded by the ‘winners’ are creating more and better jobs, replacing jobs that are creating ‘unwanted’ livelihoods, (iii) ‘winners’ are adapting faster new technologies, which in return will lead to the fact that others are adopting them as well.

Sjoerd Smit then outlines the concept of private sector development and its key characteristics in the context of Dutch policy. The objective is to achieve inclusive development through private sector development. The focus is not only on large enterprises, but also on how to engage the informal sector, smallholders and micro enterprises.

Finally, Rudolf Scheffer describes Oxfam Novib's strategy with regard to this matter. The organisation works on different levels: on market regulations, tax rules, empowering people, but also lobby with the government to spend more on rural development and small farmers.

The session was concluded with the statement that it is not so much a question of choosing between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, but that it is foremost important to understand who is actually winning and losing from private sector development. 

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