2. The put down of ‘co-ops and mutuals’ by Janet Albrechtson and several grassroots commentators
3. An award winning participatory budget project in Brazil noted by PWF in Would Voters Like A DIRECT SAY On Local Spending?
4. Social entrepreneur David Bussau’s micro-finance approach to community development
5. Critical Voices, Alternative Strategies a 2007 national network aiming to influence governments to take community building seriously ??
THE INDIGENOUS SELF-DETERMINATION OR ECONOMIC SELF-RELIANCE DISCUSSION
This rift has has come to light as Pat Dodson winds up a two week investigation into outstation funding. It seems the bureaucracy as well as politicians are all involved – a difficult terrain. Pat Dodson supports self-determination and the Mundine/Langton/Pearson group supports economic self-reliance.
‘GARDEN FAIRY’ ECONOMICS PUT DOWN OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Cheryl Kernot’s SMH article Time To Put The Heart Back Into the Economy and The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen’s follow-up blog Economics From A Former Garden Fairy show that while many are supportive of Cheryl’s triple bottom line approach (balancing socio-cultural/economic/environmental concerns) others scoff and demonstrate why it is so hard to get social change actually happening here in this great South Land!
CENTRE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY’S 2007 Alternative Strategies RECOMMENDATIONS
GRASSROOTS DIRECT DEMOCRACY AND PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING IN PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL
Canadian Emanuele Lapierre-Fortin writes:
“A substantial fraction of the municipal monetary resources are moved to a collective fund, whose allocation is voted upon by representatives of the people each neighborhood. At first considered with a dose of skepticism, the innovative policy gradually smoothed doubts in the minds of critics from all socio-economic backgrounds as the beneficial results came about quickly and clearly. The provision of tangible infrastructure and services was granted to the poorest and most remote parts of the city as their inhabitants organized, chose a leader, set up a list of priorities and geared up to discuss them in an open tribune – needless to say, a valuable commitment.
Here, psychosocial effects on marginalized groups of making the public sphere more inclusive and accessible reach the same level of importance as any material improvement. Based on the methods of famous educator Paulo Freire, who spent his life disseminating the very type of civic knowledge poor people need to emancipate and empower themselves, this state-sponsored stimulation of civil society builds human capital in many fashions. It has been observed that, as time goes by, democratic values, such as the spirit of compromise, the desire of participating in a structured discussion and the concern for fairness have been incorporated by segments of the population that are usually deemed as ‘illiterate’ and ‘backwards’.
But how is that all possible? Well, it necessitates a solid structure – exactly what the 18 million-people megapolis of Sao Paulo developed – for many cities in Brazil now have a participatory budget…
Everything takes place during the weekends, for a total of 15 weeks. Simultaneously, a group of elected counsellors, the ones who ultimately deal in person with city officials to defend their geographical district, undertake a more specialized thematic curriculum, in partnership with government workers and academics..
That said, participatory democracy is not made to replace representative democracy, but it nevertheless stands as a worthy complement. Despite the predictable difficulties encountered when one strives to change a region’s political culture, the unequaled degree of transparency made possible by the involvement of so many people in public affairs fostered “the total elimination within the municipal budget of the corruption and clientelism that are entrenched in most of Brazilian government and that corrode budget decision-making in particular”..
In Canada, the progressive city of Guelph overviews a system of allocative budget nearly independent from government funding; Montréal MPs are enthusiastic and supportive of the idea, and researchers across Toronto are lobbying the mayor to have 10% of the budget participatory by 2010. With the World Bank now using the buzzword of ‘participation’ at several instances and with most NGOs not in disagreement, chances are this initiative will soon reach you, wherever you are.”
“Basically, the trust comes up with a market-based solution for a social problem. I don’t believe in the redistribution theory. I think that assumes that the resources are limited. You need to create more resources so there is more to share around. The only way to do that is to move to the capitalistic approach of enabling people to be more productive..
If you want to transform communities, you have to economically empower them. There’s just no other way. You can be there for years giving out free food, housing and education, but if people are not economically empowered, they don’t take responsibility for themselves…
(Applying business principles and entrepreneurial thinking, David developed MED, Micro Enterprise Development, which began with making small personal low-interest loans to help enterprising local people to help themselves. He gave poor people the power and the means to live sustainably, the power to provide for their families and to transform their lives.)
MED… is being reproduced by other not-for-profit organisations across the world…it has become a mega global industry. The World Bank and most governments are now funding some form of enterprise development. 2005 is the United Nations Year of Microcredit. MED is recognised as giving integrity to people. It allows them to take that journey out of poverty themselves..
Despite OI’s successes, David says their organisation
“still faces obstacles as traditional not-for-profits generally lack entrepreneurial flair, but they exploit emotive marketing that OI simply cannot replicate.
We appeal more to the corporate arena, the more discerning foundations and philanthropists who have created wealth themselves..
We’re probably the only product on the market that is self-financing. The revenue generated from the interest on loans covers operational costs. Once we put equity into one of our partners, they can then leverage that equity in an open marketplace.
They can go to formal financial institutions and borrow four or five times more than their own level of equity, which means they can help four to five times more people. Many of our programs are quite heavily leveraged. It’s not a concept that most not-for-profits like. They operate out of a real safety zone.”
A Manchester University study has shown that for each job created, on average six people are permanently taken out of poverty and 13 people in the community benefit. Based on these figures, over five million people were potentially helped by OI in 2003 alone.
While all altruism is equal, it seems that some methods are more effective than others!
ABOUT THIS REMARKABLE EIGHTY YEAR OLD
Named by Ernst & Young as Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003, David is the only social entrepreneur to be inducted into the Monte Carlo World International Entrepreneur of the Year Academy. He co-founded Opportunity International, a trust that operates in 28 developing countries, financing entrepreneurs, promoting education and working with all layers of society.
After growing up in New Zealand boys’ homes David came to Australia and at 15 began his business career with a rented hot-dog stand. He was a multi-milliionaire by age 35.
Back in the seventies, as a successful businessman, David helped out with the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy then continued this work in Bali. He realised the poor needed more than the temporary assistance provided by traditional approaches.
It seems here in Oz David Busssau’s successful entrepreneurial approach is not widespread or Heaven forbid (!) is the Porto Alegre system even contemplated..
YET, we don’t have any great affinity for the big corporates and high fliers generally. We would like grassroots voices to be heard…
ODD, that I can’t find any evidence on this wet Sunday arvo in Melbourne that Vern Hughes’ 2007 alternative strategies have made any ripples in our municipal ponds…
I WONDER if reports about David Bussau, Porto Alegre and heaps of other successful social entrepreneurial ventures make it to our policymakers’ inboxes?
Community-Wide Dialogue I have written about before – using the ‘dialogue without debate’ approach to the Indigenous intervention process… Why NOT consult? Is the NT intervention wedge politics?
I believe passionately that this approach is valuable. It has had great success both in Sweden and in the US.
WHAT IF the two Indigenous factions – and all the other parties involved in this debate – sat around a table prepared to accept agreed ground rules for discussion?
WHAT IF they left entrenched positions ‘at the door’?
Without communication there can be no solutions and the waste of human resources and funding will simply continue. Indigenous Australians COULD establish a template for other disadvantaged Australian communities.
How about trialling or at least discussing participatory budgeting and micro economic development?