On Friday June 24th Chartwell attended a seminar discussion on economic development hosted by SOAS university as part of its “Business in Africa: What is next?” conference series.
The discussion was led by expert speaker Ann Bernstein, who is the Executive Director of the Centre for Development and Enterprise in South Africa and author of ‘The Case for Business in Developing Economies’. Ann argued that free-market competition lifts people more effectively out of poverty in developing economies than aid.
She was also critical of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, and held that they distracted companies away from their primary purpose of making profits. For Ann, it was through job creation that companies contributed to society, not through CSR projects that often served as public relations exercises to appease anti-business lobbies. Ann’s thesis was in sharp contrast to Chandran Nair’s talk also attended by Chartwell that day.
During the question and answer session following the presentation Ann pointed out that “business is not a malignant force”, rather it has certain “invisible benefits” upon society, such as strengthening civil society and expanding human rights.
In 2000, around 414,000 direct and indirect jobs were sustained by Coca Cola’s production and distribution in China. In 1998 the economic activity stimulated by the company’s activities generated 1.2bn RMB in tax revenues, and injected around 8.6bn RMB into the Chinese economy.
(From ‘The Case for Business in Developing Economies’ by Ann Bernstein’)