Phoenix Africa is committed to an enterprise development approach. This is defined, at its simplest, as making development
pay. Since profitability means lasting impact and greater scale, it is also fundamentally about sustainability and about increasing
the scope of development. It is a step change in conventional approaches: rejecting the false choice between personal profit
and social interest, this model harnesses the universal incentives of private gain to developmental goals. Profit is an essential
part of the model: it guarantees the ongoing support of investors, and ensures freedom from the uncertainties of aid budgets
and development politics.
This enlightened self-interest extends beyond personal profit: a development focus and a concern for sustainability are firmly
pragmatic, and rest on wanting to help ensure a more stable world for our children and grandchildren to inherit.
The real challenge
Most practitioners and observers fail to appreciate a fundamental
fact about the overall development project: that it demands nothing
less than the speeding up of history. Underdeveloped countries have
not yet undergone the long process of building the economic and
institutional capacities, and accumulating the rich stores of
professional expertise and social capital, possessed by developed
societies. Achieving this level of development took many centuries;
the task of “development” as an activity has therefore become the
condensing of this process into just years and perhaps decades.
The formidable nature of this requirement is barely understood, and
it demands the rethinking of old approaches with a proper awareness
of the scale of the challenge.
A fundamental implication of recognising the true demands involved in development is that the private sector is the essential
player: over the centuries of western development, it is individual agency and private interests that have provided for success.
Government has a critical role in providing the right legal and institutional context, but private enterprise has always been the
engine of economic growth, and therefore of development; centrally directed economies have never flourished.
Given the staggering scale of the challenge, however, new and cleverer approaches are required to combine the aggressive
dynamism of private interests with the enabling role of government and other providers of public goods.
The Phoenix Africa enterprise development business model is therefore fundamentally collaborative, and rests on working with
all actors in the development sphere to increase the scale, impact and sustainability of development activities. We will work with
NGOs, government agencies and other institutions which can provide services and expertise to make it easier for us to do
business. This will be done in a bartering relationship, recognising that there are things they can do for us and things that we can
do for them; overall it will lower the cost of operations and increase impact. This approach is mutually beneficial, and will
tangibly increase the sum total of development.
This collaborative approach is no mere CSR exercise but will be
embedded in the company, just as development outcomes are
embedded in our business model. The board of Phoenix Africa
will, for example, include members from the NGO/development
world, who will be ideally qualified to engage with this
constituency. We will also include members from the military,
academe, and government, giving us a uniquely powerful set of
skills and experience to bring to bear on building development
businesses in our chosen post-conflict arena.
The Phoenix Africa enterprise development model is thus a fresh
and dynamic approach to addressing the failures of the
traditional development paradigm. With profitability and
collaboration at its heart, it will be an exciting new methodology
for investing in stability in some of the most fragile states in