Jobs and growth! Will the political buzz words make a difference for aid cooperation and the private sector?
Jobs and growth seem to be the new buzz words for donor organisations, including Sida, the Swedish International Development Agency. For those of us that have a long history of working with private sector development and trade promotion, whether it’s been politically popular or not, these two buzz words have always been at the heart of our cause. Many of our local partners in developing countries are worried about the increasing youth unemployment, especially in Sub Saharan Africa where demography plays in negatively. Highly educated youth without jobs is not only a waste but also has the potential to destabilize democracies. Jobs and growth have also been at the heart of European politics for more than a decade. Anyone remember the Lisbon Agenda which was going to fix the problem of unemployment in the EU?
The big question is how to create these jobs and growth and how foreign aid can contribute? Especially since the majority of jobs in developing countries are to be found in the public sector or in the informal sector. There are in fact few developing countries in Africa which have a healthy private sector with small and medium sized businesses with the potential to grow and create jobs. We believe that a larger part of aid cooperation should focus on measures which improve the situation for this private sector in developing countries. Networking and knowledge transfer from member business organisations to local business organisations in developing countries has an important role to play here. Building capacity tied to policy advocacy, improving the business climate and efficient industrialization policies are all important as well as measures promoting (free) trade at a regional and global scale and business development training. Many of the partners and networks Chamber Trade engages with are key players in promoting such private sector capacity building. Let’s hope that the “old” buzz words of jobs and growth trickle down to instruments and programs that we can make use of in our continued work for private sector development.
Charlotte Kalin, CEO of Chamber Trade Sweden