Think the Private Sector Can’t Contribute to International Development? Read these 4 Trends

Micro-movements to watch

Why It Matters

International development can’t happen in a bubble. The complexity of problems is only matched by the complexity of approaches. Janet Longmore, Canada’s representative on the Business Leaders Caucus and a senior level advisory group to the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, has a few thoughts on the matter.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about how we can engage the private sector more fully and effectively in international development, particularly in Canada with our competitive advantages.

Four trends underpin my thinking.



The Sustainable Development Goals, agreed upon by world leaders in 2015, call on businesses to engage as partners in development, as engines of growth and sources of knowledge generation and innovation. Many businesses have demonstrated their power in bringing solutions to scale and creating real change around monumental global problems.



In developing countries, businesses provide, on average, 60 percent of gross domestic product, as well as 80 percent of capital flows, and 90 percent of jobs. This, combined with the rapid advance and adoption of technology in these regions, has made developing markets more accessible. Of the 30 fastest-growing national economies, one third are on the African continent.


Fahrul Azmi



To respond to pressing global development challenges, there have been significant shifts in development finance with bilateral and multilateral development cooperation partners establishing new financing windows, instruments, and policies to create incentives and mitigate risks to attract greater private investment for the Sustainable Development Goals.


Enlightened companies are increasingly balancing profit with purpose. Purpose is not longer the purview of arms-length foundations, but is integrated into the values and behaviour of the organization. Canada’s businesses have been demonstrated in this practice.