Is it time for a new approach to solving world poverty? That question is at the heart of a new book, The Aid Trap, by Dean Glenn Hubbard and William Duggan, a senior business lecturer at Columbia Business School. In it, they argue that direct loans to businesses similar to the Marshall Plan is a more effective way to help sub-Saharan Africa pull out of poverty, rather than direct aid from charities and NGOs.
Hubbard and Duggan argue the current economic aid system — where non-governmental organizations run development projects — isn’t working effectively and there needs to be a “reorientation” of aid directly into the business sector. In many poor countries local business sectors are suppressed, they say, and that leaves economic development to either NGO-type entities or large multinationals. Their answer is to open up the middle of the economy for local business in order to have long-term sustainable growth.
“The question is mid-sized businesses. If you look at growth in the U.S. over the past two centuries or the industrial revolution in Western Europe, it was centered on growth of mid-sized enterprises,” Dean Hubbard said in a recent video interview at Forbes.com. “Mid-sized businesses need a very different credit structure than either microfinance or large multinationals, and that is missing in much of sub-Saharan Africa. A business focus on aid could get that going.”