I’m a development entreprenuer now

While I have not read the book mentioned in this article I can identify myself as a development entreprenuer.

Now let me get a copy of the book to get a full appreciation of the wealth of ideas provided by the case studies written by the various respected and established authors mentioned.


From Business World

December 25, 2011

Development entrepreneurship

There are business entrepreneurs, tech entrepreneurs, and lately, even social entrepreneurs, but development entrepreneurs?

According to Jaime Faustino and Raul Fabella, editors of the book Built on Dreams, Grounded in Reality: Economic Policy Reform in the Philippines (Asia Foundation, 2011), “development entrepreneurs” are “individuals who take responsibility for the reform challenge and for seeing to the achievement of the outcome. They are generally self-motivated; that is, with or without a helping hand from others or from development agencies, whether within or without the government, these individuals continue to pursue the reform and development outcome.”

Like other types of entrepreneurs, “resources at their disposal are very limited. Relative financial independence and time-space flexibility seem to characterize these individuals.”

The need to coin the term development entrepreneurship stems from the recognition that the old model practiced by multilateral and bilateral aid agencies has repeatedly failed to effect any significant change or marginally positive development outcome. Millions, if not billions, have been poured as aid to the Philippines, and other developing countries for that matter, without any result. Critics in the aid community even say that the correlation between aid and development outcome has been negative since the aid is often misused by recipient governments or used as an excuse not to undertake any lasting reform. The miracle countries in Asia like Taiwan, Malaysia, and China have not been major recipients of aid.

To Faustino and Fabella, the answer of why aid doesn’t produce results is simple. Development agencies have been fixated on technical solutions, ignoring the political economy of reform. They prescribe one-size-fits-all technical solutions, ignoring local context and political motivations. They are locked in a “log-frame” mentality that counts meetings, papers produced, and conferences held within a specific time frame as metrics of success, rather than forging coalitions for change. They hire technically proficient but politically clueless individuals as contractors, rather than fully committed, politically savvy “development entrepreneurs.”

According to Faustino and Fabella, development agencies need to move toward a new model where politics and political economic analysis are central to the approach. After all, any policy change will disrupt the political and economic forces with a vested interest in the old order. Changing the old order will require political action. Attempts by the World Bank and the ADB, for example, to reform the National Food Authority have resulted in repeated failure because the NFA had no incentive to change and had powerful political backers.

To protect itself from the charge of political interference, Faustino and Fabella suggest for development agencies to work through intermediaries who will act as development venture capitalists. As development venture capitalists, the intermediaries’ principal role will be to identify, nurture and foster lasting relationships with development entrepreneurs.

Faustino and Fabella’s analysis and proposals weren’t developed in the abstract, but distilled from practice. The book contains case studies of successful and unsuccessful reform efforts. These case studies include: “The Philippine Roll-On Roll-Off Experience” by Dr. Enrico L. Basilio; “Exploring the Political Economy of Civil Aviation Reforms” by Professor Maria Cherry Lyn Salazar-Rodolfo; “The Privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System: How and Why It Was Won” by Dr. Raul Fabella; “The Philippine Telecommunications Reform Story” by Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos; “Property Rights Reform and the Free Patent Act” by yours truly; “Stymied Reforms in Rice Marketing in the Philippines” by Dr. Bruce Tolentino and Beulah Ma. de la Peña; “BIR Reform Initiatives: Why is Success so Elusive?” by Dr. Raul Fabella and Karl Kendrick Chua.

I had the privilege of co-writing with Dr. Fabella the case study on property rights reform and the Residential Free Patent Act. If you read that case study, of how a small team was able to pass a landmark law that attacks a huge property rights problem — half of all land parcels in the Philippines remains untitled — you will see why getting a reform done is more entrepreneurship than project management. Ability to improvise, EQ (Emotional Quotient), resilience, tenacity, patience, and political smarts matter more than IQ and technical proficiency. A development entrepreneur should be more MacGyver than Einstein.

Particularly worth reading is the chapter on “Development Thinking and the Rise of Human Agency” by Dr. Raul Fabella, the only living national scientist in economic science. It’s a brilliant summation of the evolution in development thinking and a theoretical piece on the role of development entrepreneurs in institutional change. To Fabella, institutional change is a collective action problem, and development entrepreneurs strengthen and redirect collective action toward the common good.

Readers who want a copy of the book may call Asia Foundation at 8511466. Ask for Abi or Robbie. Or they can download the chapters at the Asia Foundation web site at http://bit.ly/tlCxCS.

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?Section=Opinion&title=Development entrepreneurship&id=43893

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