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How the donor landscape is changing in Kenya

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  Rev Washington Ng’ang’a of Kirirwa Church cuts a ribbon to open a house  built for poor families in Kandara by the Safaricom  Foundation. Billions of shillings in charity these days come from such foundations. Photo/Anthony Njoroge

Rev Washington Ng’ang’a of Kirirwa Church cuts a ribbon to open a house built for poor families in Kandara by the Safaricom Foundation. Billions of shillings in charity these days come from such foundations. Photo/Anthony Njoroge 

By Scott Bellows

Posted  Thursday, March 13  2014 at  18:03

What roles and responsibilities do corporations, non-profit organisations, donors and investors play in society?

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Professor Paul Hudnut at Colorado State University ponders such questions in his research. Do the four play different functions in the global and local economy?

What role do the pillars play in international development, social enterprise ecosystem and in your own business venture?

The 19th century saw a radical shift in global political economies. The world began implementing the earlier views of Scottish economist Adam Smith who in 1776’s The Wealth of Nations says countries gain power through competition and mutual trade rather than through acquisition and hording of gold and precious stones.

The 20th century saw the struggle between two dramatically different economic schools of thought: communism and capitalism.

By the end of the century, Marxist communism proved ineffective and Keynesian capitalism versus Classical Economic capitalism ruled from lecture halls to central bank offices.

At the start of the 21st century, from 2002, former President Mwai Kibaki tussled between Keynesian government involvement to stabilise the Kenyan economy and classical economics, which lets markets take care of themselves, avoiding meddling too directly so that the economy could grow.

His policies worked and Kenya’s GDP per capita finally outpaced the economy during colonial British rule for the first time; our GDP grew faster than nearly every country in the developed world.

By the 2008 global financial crash, however, Keynesian economics took a hit as governments tried but failed to stop the meltdown. Kenya dodged the crisis due to a fairly less intertwined financial system and a lower acceptance of home mortgages in the Kenyan market.

In the post-financial crisis world, great thinkers now struggle with new forms of economic debate.

The first, as writer and CNN television personality Fareed Zakaria puts it is the rise of the rest of the world beyond of Europe, North America, Japan and Australia.

Kenya certainly moves forward along a growth trajectory unimaginable even 20 years ago. Each year hundreds of thousands of Kenyans join the ranks of the growing middle class.

The second big post-financial crisis debate involves the actual role of corporations and investors. As the world moves through the 2010s, the lines get blurred often between the role of corporations, NGOs, donors, and investors.

Do companies inherently possess a socially conscious responsibility to society? If not, should companies only focus on their core competencies and let governments, NGOs and donors pick up the pieces?

The debate draws from three widely different schools of thought. The first encompasses University of Chicago economist and Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman.

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