A few years ago, Brendan Mullen suggested the Marshall Plan as inspiration for a new impact investing model designed for Africa. Because the United States’ postwar development strategy was agile enough to intervene in the market, it not only catalyzed the European economy but lifted the continent out of wartime devastation.
However, the Marshall Plan required top-down, outside resources to rebuild a once vibrant economy. And in Africa, our task is different.
For this reason, we want to take inspiration from a different WWII-era plan, one that organized and leveraged pre-existing, local resources for a new, long-term, and repeatable growth framework: FDR’s “Arsenal of Democracy,” his 1940 plan to “bring the country’s resources and talents into action” to direct a “collective, gigantic effort” to win a war, grow the economy and create jobs.
Africa needs a similar plan, to fight the struggle we face today. To enrich the continent, grow local businesses and sectors, and lessen our reliance on developed markets, we need a plan that gives our youth an opportunity to get employment, make an impact, and grow.
Our challenge is on multiple fronts. The effects of COVID highlight our inequality and make it harder to catch-up, economically, with the West; we have a youth demographic bulge coming, but too few jobs and a brain drain for the talent we want to keep; and we lack sufficient capital to invest in ideas, companies, and projects because many people think the risk is too high and the returns too low to invest in Africa.
However, we have incredible potential. As a member of what I hope to be Africa’s “Demographic Dividend,” I believe we must invest in and allocate resources where they are needed and where they can create repeatable growth.
Read the full article about building from within by Kuhle Mnisi and Brendan J. Mullen at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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