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Philanthro-capitalism, social enterprises, and global development

– Dennis Stolz and Karen P.Y. Lai –

While the 2008 global financial crisis created financial meltdown as well as socio-economic crisis of unprecedented scale, the super-rich capitalist class is also using financial logics and instruments in philanthropy as a vehicle to soothe critics of global finance. With a new profit-oriented model of philanthropy, ultra-wealthy elites intend to reinvigorate capitalism as such, and especially the faith in finance as the engine of social progress. At the apex of this movement are powerful U.S. foundations such as Gates and Rockefeller. Along these lines, these foundations and other high net worth individuals around the world are funnelling copious amounts of money into global ‘development’ today, resulting in large flows of funding into social enterprises in the Global South. These philanthropic activities – called impact investments – leverage on the power of finance: what was formerly a purely donation-based transfer of funds between a benefactor and a recipient now becomes an investment targeted at a problem.

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