Sunday, 5 June 2011

A new business model

Hello readers,

In the last few years there has been a lot of talk (and some action) on reforming the way the humanitarian world works under the umbrella 'humanitarian reform'. Some say humanitarianism has become a business and beneficiaries can be thought of as clients. Baroness Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator is keen to usher in a new business model to ensure that we change the way in which aid is delivered as we prepare for and adapt to increasingly dangerous disaster environments while ensuring efficiency, quality and accountability. This is indeed a commendable aspiration to work towards. And I welcome this.  But where does one start?  I'm sure you will join with me in saying "Won't you come on over and stop making a fool out of me, Valerie......" and show us how its done? Here's a little Ode to Val.

But, I ask you, can humanitarians themselves be reformed? This is no mean feat.  Aren't we all too soft to be business sharks? I remember attending a Peace Support Operations workshop a few years ago along with a few other humanitarians and officers of the army, navy and air force who called us "a load of bunny huggers" . This concept puzzled me somewhat as I struggled to see the relevance of bunny hugging as I have never caught site of a rabbit in any disaster zone I have ever worked in. Conflict tends to wipe out local wildlife or, alternatively, animals regarded as domestic pets in one country could well end up as street food in another....alas I digress.

Talking of Barons (or rather Baroness to be gender sensitive), I wonder what the mogul Baron Alan Sugar would make of budding humanitarian apprentices trying to compete in the cut-throat world of business?

Imagine having to present a new business model for humanitarian aid on The Apprentice.  No doubt a successful business case will need to be original, meet demand in the market, outrun competitors and produce a healthy profit margin.

Perhaps something like this startling example of downward accountability!

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