Here's a positive footnote to the recently completed G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea. The G-20 leaders committed more than half a billion dollars to support social finance.
That's serious money for sustainable and socially responsible businesses. While critics and commentators question these gatherings and wonder about their worth, an enterprising, creative East Kootenay social activist, Delyse Sylvester played a critical role in diverting some of the world's resources to benefit small and medium sized enterprises (SME's) in developing countries.
SME's account for the majority of the world’s job creation and GDP, pull people out of poverty, strengthen communities and contribute significantly to economic stability. Social finance is defined as achieving positive social and financial returns together, exactly what SME's need.
The unheralded impresario, Delyse Sylvester manages the various campaigns of Changemakers. Changemakers, another brainchild of Ashoka the world's leading social enterprise organization, uses the web to attract solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems. Have a look at their other campaigns here.
How Ashoka, Changemakers and Delyse managed to get the attention of the G-20 leadership is a delicious mystery. Knowing Delyse, her abundant mindset played a big role. She is fearless, willing to go into the 'belly of any beast' to achieve positive change. Her community activism has centred around international development for a few decades. She has a heart for social justice and the talent to do something about it. A big something I figured, when she told me about receiving security clearance for the G-20 Toronto meetings.
The Changemakers G-20 Social Finance Challenge attracted world wide interest. The winning entries, announced at the conclusion of the summit will have their solutions funded and scaled to achieve greater impact.
The G-20 commitment of half a Billion dollars to social finance will be used to develop local capital markets; putting investment decisions in the hands of local entrepreneurs; and supporting local innovators who are by their very nature eco-friendly, social justice-oriented businesses since their owners live, work, and employ workers there.
The initiative was led by Canada's PM, Stephen Harper who pledged $20 Million to scale up the winning solutions. This is the first public acknowledgement of the value of social finance by the Canadian Government and therefore an important first step in bringing this method of financing to Canada.
The winning entries can be viewed here.
One of the winning entries was Ottawa based, Peace Dividend Trust. Their big, smart idea encourages international donors (governments and charities) to contract with local suppliers to provide goods and services. These are usually for school and road construction. You can see how this would at least double the impact of the aid. Instead of just spending $1Million to build a school, it will also redirect the money into the local economy leaving behind a $1Million school and $1Million worth of wages.
Peace Dividend Trust then turns around and assists local SME's win these procurement contracts by providing them with lines of credit. They are currently working in Haiti, Liberia, Timor-Leste and Afghanistan.
While the wolf packs of our minds and in the media rush to criticize the G-20, spare a thought for change makers like Delyse Sylvester who make change under every circumstance and condition. She may prefer to work behind the scenes but her work shines brightly.