Winnie Byanyima: 'Excited but skeptical' on private sector's role in development

The private sector is becoming increasingly involved in development, but how is the rise of this new actor viewed by a leading humanitarian organization with decades of experience in the field?

It’s a question of accountability, according to Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International.

“The private sector, the companies, really are primarily accountable to their shareholders, and their accountability to citizens at large have generally been weak,” she told Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar at the European Development Days in Brussels. “We have a whole legacy of firms trampling on the human rights of poor people, especially damaging the environment.”

Byanyima explained this is why Oxfam is “excited but also skeptical” about the role of the private sector in development.

Watch the full video here to find out more about why the head of Oxfam believes in a strong regulatory framework, incentives and good governance so for-profit companies that want to be involved in development efforts will be held accountable for their impacts.

Visit us at the 2013 European Development Days and watch out for more Devex coverage of news and views from Europe’s leading global development event of the year.

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About the author

  • Carlos Santamaria

    Carlos is a former associate editor for breaking news in Devex's Manila-based news team. He joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE ,and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York, and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.