Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Business of Urban Transformation

The Private Sector and Urban Development

Who could’ve imagined Dharavi, a slum in Mumbai, India with a population of 1 million people would be the next gold mine for investment? CHF International, TCG International, and Woodrow Wilson Center’s Comparative Urban Studies Project see the potential, and with this vision they seek to transform urban poverty into a fast growing, productive center for the private sector to invest in and develop. Over the years, urban poverty has been overshadowed by rural development within the international community, but the outstanding growth of the urban population in Indian cities, where 62 million people now live in slums, has companies and foundations creating new projects to help the population improve their living conditions in these shanty towns.

At the event, CHF International’s Senior VP, presented the new program called SCALE-UP (Slum Communities Achieving Livable Environments with Urban Partners Program). This project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, enables the urban poor to have a meaningful voice in the planning and implementation of slum improvement programs bridging the gap between the local needs of the slum inhabitants and municipal governments.

A great example of this capital investment is LabourNet, an innovative entity which seeks to link the informal sector with the private, attracting blue collar workers in slums to jobs in the city through web and cellular technology. The mission of the company is to provide slum dwellers access to information and technology to improve their living conditions.

The panel discussed many ways the private sector and businesses could benefit from this micro-investing for both short term and long term gains while developing slums and improving sanitary and general living conditions.

Date: October 29th, 2008
Location: The Woodrow Wilson Center
Attended by: Cristina Lopez

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