The 42nd annual meeting of World Economic Forum took place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, bringing together leaders from around the globe. WEF2012 community discussions were on the troubled economy and recommendations for transformation from the world of finance, business, art, science, social, and intellectual over five days and nearly 260 sessions.
Given the topic of ‘transformation’ many of the discussions on driving new models of growth and employment, leadership and innovation, sustainability and resources, and society and technology are very relevant to African communities.
We have distilled down some of the innovative approaches discussed at WEF2012 that are impactful and practical for today’s social entrepreneurs and not for profit leaders.
1) Even as Africa continues to face formidable challenges in the development sector, the world is undoubtedly taking note of the flourishing entrepreneurial environment and gradual liberalization of African economies. This should be great news for the well-prepared NGO or entrepreneur with good systems, efficient management and an innovative brand ready for scaling and transformation.
2) The International Monetary Fund (IMF), The Economist and other sources indicate that over the ten years to 2010, six of the 10 fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa. Africa possesses 90% of all known world minerals and metals and Africa, outside of China and Russia, remains the single biggest growth opportunity. President of Guinea stated that African leaders “must change attitudes” and fight for their people rather than for their personal power.
3) Sustainability and impact investing are no longer buzzwords and are here to stay. With Africa emerging as an important player in the global economy, this is the perfect time for social enterprises and nonprofits to analyze their business/service model to attract and absorb the influx of investment capital and resources. Private sector assets include sectoral expertise, strategic management, social responsibility, supply chain management and “cut-through” approaches to partnerships. (WEF 2012)
4) Corporate/NGO partnerships to further sustainable solutions to social and environmental development should overtake short sighted approaches to social problems. “We need a plan which will leave us with a world in 2100 where we can proudly say I helped to create this,” said Niel Bowerman, Giving What We Can, UK.
5) The new norm for leadership must strike a balance between the old and the new. The world needs new models of collaborative leadership. Youth and women can and must play a greater part in that leadership model. (Tyler Spencer, Founder, Grassroot Project & Muhammad Yunus, Chairman of the Yunus Centre)
6) Social entrepreneurs and NGOs in a great position to facilitate inclusive growth and fostering political/business commitment to social issues. Development sector must leverage strengths of other players in the economy to move towards improved performance and accountability.
There was a call for impact over outputs and to translate words into deeds. Leaders asked for greater cooperation among countries, governments and sectors. In the closing plenary of the Annual Meeting, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the World Economic Forum remarked, “We have to make capitalism and the free market much more responsive to social needs. If business is not serving society, then business is not sustainable.”
Non-profits must prepare its beneficiaries for “no more hand-outs but hand-ups.” (Michel Joseph Martelly, President of Haiti)
For a full library of content, videos, summaries, blog posts and highlights, please visit the World Economic Forum site
(Photos courtesy: World Economic Forum website. Quotes sourced from WEF session summaries. IMF Report)