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Social entrepreneurship now takes centre stage at global forums, like at the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum. From big European cities to small African villages, social enterprises are springing up and daring to address some of the most daunting challenges of our time. Indeed, “It is now becoming cool to make a difference,” noted Tim O’Reilly.
Its proponents argue that social entrepreneurship presents a plethora of opportunities which, when exploited, will lift millions of people out of the so-called poverty trap. Critics, however, point out that the unavailability of appropriate market incentives, which is a common characteristic of most social enterprises, might actually limit their potential to sustainably solve development challenges.
Regardless of which side one takes, these debates provide insights into the social enterprise concept in general, as well the search for solutions to Africa’s poverty challenge in particular.
In a remote corner of south eastern Guinea, the lush green highlands of Simandou are at the centre of a transformation being felt all over Africa after the discovery of one of the world’s richest and most coveted repositories of iron ore, the core ingredient of making steel. Today multinational companies are competing for a stake in Simandou’s ore, with billions of dollars of investment in prospect.
Together with recent landmark discoveries of natural resources in Ghana, Uganda, DR Congo, Kenya (now ranked Africa’s fastest growing economy), Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Tanzania and many more, Africa is standing on the edge of an enormous opportunity in the global economy. But historically, these resources have often been more of a curse than a blessing leading to a variety of explanations for the failure to convert their natural resources into development assets.
Writer Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote in White Nights and Other Stories, ‘But how could you live and have no story to tell?‘ At PfAL, we are constantly challenging our members to dig deep, examine their lives and identify how they can contribute to the progression, or even reshaping, of Africa’s future.
On Thursday 26th February 2015, PfAL@LSE addressed the field of media in a discussion with three established African media professionals, chaired by Dr Wendy Willems, Assistant Professor in LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. On the panel were Jeff Koinange, a Peabody- and Emmy-award-winning broadcast journalist; Agnes Gitau, Director for the London-based East Africa Business Network; and Salim Amin, Chairman of Camerapix and Co-Founder/Chairman of A24 Media.
Despite the grand arguments by climate change denialists, the time is coming when their views will no longer be able to stand. Though I am no skeptic, the grim consequences of climate change were made all the more plain during the Cumberland Lodge workshop in January 12-14, 2015, led by Professors Tim Dyson and Robert Wade. The weekend focused on Climate Change, Population, Disasters, and Grounds for Hope – a theme that was timely (right on the heels of the Copenhagen Conference in November 2014), interactive, eye-opening and highly enriching.
The current debate about whether aid is good or bad for development has gained unprecedented momentum in the development and academic discourse. Aid enthusiasts like Jeffrey Sachs, Bill Gates, and Bono argue that the world is now a much better place because of aid. In his 2013 TED talk, entitled the “The Good News on Poverty”, Bono provides incredible stories of how aid has improved living standards in many African countries. On the other hand, critics like Dambisa Moyo argue that aid continues to increase dependency, widens indebtedness and promotes corruption.
Drawing on my personal experience while growing up in the Karamoja region in Uganda, and later working on humanitarian and development projects in the post-conflict region of Northern Uganda, I feel compelled to shed some light on these ongoing debates.
We are delighted to announce that through the continuing generous support of the Lalji family and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), there will again be a significant scholarship fund for bright African students applying to eligible Masters programs in development offered by LSE.
On Thursday, January 29, 2015, PfAL welcomed H.E. Macharia Kamau, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, to speak to the PfAL@LSE group. Ambassador Macharia Kamau has served at the United Nations for over 25 years, mostly in senior management positions, and has extensive international experience. In addition, he was co-chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, established in January 2013. Continue reading →
Monday, December 15, 2014 saw the launch of PfAL@LSE, an additional component of PfAL that draws in graduate scholars from sub-Saharan Africa studying taught MSc programs from across The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The extension not only expands the current PfAL network, it also brings in diversity of subject background and nationality.
The first PfAL@LSE event had nearly 50 students in attendance and was officially launched with a welcome speech from Professor Paul Kelly, LSE Pro-Director of Teaching and Learning. Following the welcome, Dr Connson Locke from the Department of Management (LSE) led a session about Leadership Presence, during which she presented research about how effective, influential leaders are perceived based on several communication channels. Continue reading →
Congratulations to the PfAL3 scholars, now MSc graduates of LSE! On Wednesday, December 17, 2014, the Department of International Development at LSE held a graduation ceremony for the MSc class of 2013-14. Though not all of the PfAL3 scholars were able to be in London for the ceremony, ten of our scholars walked across the stage to the sound of their names being read aloud and the audience in applause. The ceremony was followed by a reception in LSE’s new Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, where the graduates celebrated their achievement with friends, family and department staff.