Aid + Entrepreneurship = True?

Gunilla Carlsson

Photo of Gunilla Carlsson was taken by the Foreign Ministry's Arba Kokalari, 9/12 - 2009.


During the workshop and seminar “Opening up the Aid/Öppna Biståndet” last Wednesday with Gunilla Carlsson the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs made an open-hearted and sincere gesture that she and SIDA needed innovative and creative solutions in order to  make the Swedish Aid more effective.


The seminar was initialized by the world famous Professor in Global Health from Karolinska Institutet, Hans Rosling. founder and director of Gapminder, he is one of the world’s “100 most important global thinkers” of 2009, according to Foreign Policy Magazine. The speech he held at the Bonnier Conference Center was really as astonishing, impressive and energetic as the talks I’ve seen on TED. You could call him “The guy who brought sexy back to Statistics”.

During Hans Roslings talk he also showed the visualization of Swedish development aid which is an impressive statistics-tool. By default, the graphs display one aspect of either bilateral or multilateral aid, but you can choose from the menu alternatives to display other aspects. I’ve attached his Hans Rosling’s TED-talk below, if you’ve missed it.


The illustrations and visualization help getting another depth to the answers of the following questions.

  • How does Sweden allocate resources to UNDP and other UN organizations over time?
  • How much of the development cooperation by SIDA is allocated to Education?
  • … and within Education, or any other sector, which countries and regions are the main recipients?

During the day minister Gunilla Carlsson clearly showed a sincere act of inviting the Swedish business sector and entrepreneurs and other NGO’s in order to influence and assisting her in creating 10 new innovative and creative ideas to assist SIDA to become more effective, when fighting corruption.

My only fear at this time is that Gunilla Carlsson will not be sitting in the driver’s seat after the next Swedish election next year, if that’s the case by then, we might be back at square one again. Hopefully the opposition will see that her initiative is really a great leap towards updating the Swedish Aid to version 2.0. This first and initial step in opening up the aid-issue in Sweden is an act that might as well send innovative and creative ideas to other governments around the world. Sweden is ranked number #1 in the World when it comes to the amount per capita that goes to foreign Aid initiatives. On the other hand, countries like the Netherlands and Germany has already showed concrete signs of boosting the Private Sector Federation (PSF) in for example Rwanda.

So back to the headline of this bloggpost, Aid + Entrepreneurship = True? That’s a question that still don’t have a clear answer at this time, let’s give Gunilla Carlsson and SIDA some time to evaluate the 10 innovative ideas and see what the concrete measurements and activities will be in a few months. It’s without a doubt very exciting to see the open-hearted gesture from the minister, I just hope that my initial scepticism will turn into full-blown optimism once the ideas has turned into concrete measurements.

Best regards,

Emre Gürler.

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2 Responses to “Aid + Entrepreneurship = True?”

  1. Karin says:

    December 14th, 2009 at 13:14

    Very nice blog entry to read this morning and I agree with most of your arguments! I am currently writing my bachelor thesis on foreign aid vs. social entrepreneurship why it will be interesting to see what will be the outcome of this whole discussion. Thanks for good reading!

  2. Emre Gürler says:

    December 17th, 2009 at 10:54

    Thank you Karin for your positive respons! I sincerely hope that we’ll see some kind of change in beginning of 2010 from minister Gunilla Carlsson. At the end of the day, she’s the one who’s got the tools and power to make changes happen. Karin, good luck with your thesis, tell me if you need some more information, I’d love to assist you.

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