Decentralization is key in scaling up to fight poverty

Mal Warwick Posted by Mal Warwick, writer.

Mal Warwick is an ex-Peace Corps volunteer (Ecuador 1965–69) turned entrepreneur and impact investor who has championed social and environmental responsibility in the business community nationwide for more than two decades.

Decentralization is key in scaling up to fight poverty

The brand of whole-systems design we call “zero-based design” describes how to establish and manage a large-scale enterprise — from scratch — that will reduce the incidence of poverty in many nations. Among the principles of this field is that the whole, multinational social enterprise must be envisioned at the outset and business-model decisions made that will facilitate rapid scaling up.

Decentralization is one of the keys to building a large, transnational business capable of making headway against global poverty while making a generous profit.

Why decentralization? Because languages, cultures, infrastructure, the natural environment, and the nature of economic challenges can vary greatly from one locality to another. Ultimately, problems can only be solved at the local level by local managers empowered to act without stifling direction from above. At the same time, only a modular approach to expansion will permit smooth and rapid scaling up — whether through franchising or a network of local partners. In any case, a decentralized social enterprise will require full utilization of state-of-the-art telecommunications to exchange and compile information and to share learning experiences.

Paul Polak and Mal Warwick’s award-winning book, The Business Solution to Povertyhighlights 20 “takeaways” that encapsulate much of the book’s essence. Today we have featured the seventeenth of those takeaways. Future posts will include others.

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