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Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing: The Role of Business in Overcoming Poverty

Tuesday, October 07, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

According to Peter Greer, coauthor of “Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing,” business is central to poverty alleviation because it allows individuals to contribute to their own flourishing. During a presentation at AEI on Tuesday, Greer emphasized that the equal exchange that takes place in business transactions creates value for all parties, upsetting the power dynamics at work in traditional charity in which the giver’s sense of dignity grows but the recipient often feels shameful or dependent.

Panelists then shared their own observations of business contributing to human flourishing. Elyse Bealer of Merck Worldwide recounted launching Project Sacred Dream, a for-profit call center on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation. The tribe is a majority owner of the call center, which employs 500 local workers, helping combat the reservation’s 90 percent unemployment rate.

Jonathan O’Connor spoke about founding LifeNet International, which employs business principles to address health care disparities in Burundi, East Africa. He explained how local businesses, such as cellphone companies, played a fundamental role in actually meeting health care needs in Burundi. Today, O’Connor works as a commercial banker in Buffalo, New York, financing entrepreneurs who are creating value in one of the poorest cities in America.