From Aid to Enterprise: Economic Liberty and Solutions to Poverty

Event Information

Date: 1 December 2011

Time: 10.00-17.00 (includes lunch) Registration opens at 9.00

Location: Crowne Plaza St. James
Buckingham Gate, London SW1E-6AF

 Sponsored by the Acton Institute

Download Conference Poster

Despite billions being spent trying to relieve poverty in the developing world over several decades, the results have been mixed at best. It is very hard to identify any country that has escaped poverty primarily through aid. By contrast, many countries have transitioned themselves towards significant, widespread economic prosperity through free enterprise, a moral culture, and the institutions that facilitate wealth-creation.

On December 1, 2011, the Acton Institute held a day-long conference – From Aid to Enterprise: Economic Liberty and Solutions to Poverty – in London to explore the nature of free enterprise solutions to poverty, their underlying moral and institutional prerequisites, and stories of success and failure. 

Bringing together scholars, policy-makers, clergy, and business leaders, this conference addressed questions such as the limits and unintended consequences of aid, the role played by religious organizations in promoting or impeding economic development in developing countries, the emergence of cultures and institutions that facilitate economic growth, and the place of business in poverty-alleviation. This conference was the last in the seven-part series Poverty, Entrepreneurship, and Integral Development.


  • Mr. Herman Chinery-Hesse
  • Mr. Declan Ganley
  • Ms. Marcela Escobari
  • Lord Brian Griffiths
  • Dr. Antoinette Kankindi
  • Ms. Anielka Münkel
  • Professor James Tooley

Speaker Biographies:

Herman K. Chinery-Hesse is a software engineer by profession. 19 years ago he co-founded the SOFTtribe limited, one of the leading software houses in West Africa. He holds a number of directorships and is an Assessor of the Commercial Court, Ghana. He has won a number of personal awards including Outstanding Ghanaian Professional from the GPA Awards (UK), as well as the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Texas State Alumni Association and Texas State University-San Marcos (USA)—the first and currently only African recipient of the award. Herman has also been a resource person and visiting speaker at the Wharton Business School, Harvard Business Schools, Cambridge University, the University of Ghana, and the TEDGlobal Conference in Arusha, Tanzania, amongst others. The BBC describes Mr Chinery-Hesse as Africa’s Bill Gates. In his own words, “if Africa misses the current global IT boat there may never again be an opportunity for rapid wealth creation on the continent”.

Declan J. Ganley (42) is an Irish entrepreneur, chairman & CEO of Rivada Networks (US) – a leading provider of public safety communications technology & services to government customers, president, of St. Columbanus AG (Switzerland) asset management, and chairman of The Libertas Institute (Ireland). As a European federalist, Declan led the successful defeat of the Lisbon Treaty in the Irish referendum in June 2008 and built Libertas into the first pan-European political party to contest EU elections in a campaign for improved European governance in order to build a stronger, democratically accountable and more prosperous European Union, capable of world leadership. Declan has founded wireless broadband and cable TV businesses in eleven European countries. From 1991-97 he built the then largest private forestry company in the Former Soviet Union. Declan served as chairman of the Forum on Public Safety in Europe & North America, advisor on ‘technology and terrorism’ to the Club De Madrid group of former heads of government, served on boards of the University of Limerick Foundation and Irish Chamber Orchestra, is a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and served twenty years in the Irish Army Reserve. Declan is a published speaker, op-ed author and media commentator on E.U./international affairs, business and public safety communications. He is the subject of Bruce Arnold’s 2009 book ‘The Fight for Democracy’. Declan has received many awards and honors including the Frode Jacobson Prize for Personal Courage (Denmark), Czech Republic’s Michal Tosovsky Prize in 2008, Louisiana Distinguished Service Medal for actions restoring emergency communications post Hurricane Katrina, and JCI Entrepreneur of the Year 2001/2005. Declan has been married to his wife, Delia, for 18 years. They have four children and reside in Galway, Ireland.

Marcela Escobari is the executive director of Harvard's Center for International Development (CID). She has over a decade of experience in economic development, including work with industrial strategy, technology policy, and private sector development. Before joining as CID's executive director, Ms. Escobari led the Americas region and served on the executive committee of OTF Group, where she advised heads of state and private sector leaders on how to improve their countries’ export competitiveness. Prior to working at OTF, she worked with indigenous communities in Bolivia for the World Bank and was a mergers & acquisitions investment banker with JP Morgan in New York. Ms. Escobari holds a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College and a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Lord Brian Griffiths of Fforestfach was born in 1941 in Wales and educated at the London School of Economics. He was a lecturer in economics at the LSE from 1965-76, and appointed professor of banking and director of Centre, Banking and International Finance at the City University of London in 1977. He was also dean of the business school at the City University. He served as a director of the Bank of England from 1985-1986. He also served as head of the Prime Minister's policy unit and as special adviser to the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher MP between 1985-90. Griffiths was made a life peer in 1991 and has served as vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International since 1991. He has been a director on several company boards. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Creation of Wealth (1984) and Morality and the Market Place (1989). He is also an active member of the Church of England and the Conservative Christian fellowship.

Antoinette Kankindi is a Congolese citizen, born in North-Kivu. She received her bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Kinshasa (DRC). She received both her master’s degree in governance (MGCO) and Ph.D. in philosophy (summa cum laude) from the University of Navarra (Spain). Before pursuing her postgraduate studies, Dr. Kankindi worked in the legal office of Chevron-Texaco (previously the Zaire Gulf Oil Company) and the Chilean Embassy in Kinshasa. She has also worked on different women empowerment projects especially with female university students and underprivileged women. She is a consultant with Kianda Foundation in Nairobi on the legal frameworks for endowment scholarship funds. Currently, Dr. Kankindi is a lecturer in Strathmore University’s Institute of Humanities Education and Development Studies and director of the University’s Governance Centre

Anielka Münkel, a citizen of Nicaragua, is a project manager at the Acton Institute where she currently works on PovertyCure, a global initiative that advances enterprise solutions to poverty. In Nicaragua, she served as advisor to the minister of tourism, promoting Nicaragua as a tourist and investment destination. Ms. Münkel collaborated on speeches for former President Enrique Bolaños, and negotiated investment opportunities with international corporations. Previously, she served as coordinator of the Government Investor Network (GIN) at PRONicaragua, the Investment Promotion Agency of the Presidency. She authored the article “Nicaragua: A UN Pilot Country on the Road to Success” and presented the results of the GIN project at the United Nations in 2005. She was selected to participate in the US Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program, in October of the same year. Ms. Münkel earned her bachelor's in international relations and business administration from Ave Maria College of the Americas and holds an MBA (magna cum laude) from University of Notre Dame, where she won the grand prize in the Social Venture Plan Competition with Sustainable Health Enterprises.

James Tooley is a professor of education policy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he directs the E.G. West Centre. For his research on private education for the poor in India, China and Africa, Tooley was awarded the gold prize in the first International Finance Corporation/Financial Times Private Sector Development Competition in September 2006. From 2007–09, he was founding president of the Education Fund, Orient Global, and lived in Hyderabad, India. He is currently chairman of education companies in Ghana and India that create chains of low cost private schools. Professor Tooley holds a PhD from the Institute of Education, University of London, an MSc from the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, and first class BSc honors in logic and mathematics, also from the University of Sussex. He is a member of the academic advisory councils for several think-tanks, including Reform, Civitas, Institute of Economic Affairs, Taxpayers’ Alliance and Globalisation Institute. He is an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute and a thought-leader for Schoolventures. Professor Tooley has written numerous books and articles on education, including his most recent book The Beautiful Tree: a personal journey into how the world’s poorest people are educating themselves (2009). His work is featured in an American PBS documentary, profiled alongside the work of Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunus and Grameen Bank. It is also featured in a documentary for BBC.