Doug Seebeck — Partnership Models in Farming & Business
President Partners Worldwide, USA
Haiti used to be self-sufficient in rice. Now they get all their rice from the US. We subsidize our agriculture, we overproduce, then we ship it as aid with a handshake, and we put them out of business.
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Doug Seebeck—Partnerships in Development and Enterprise
Doug Seebeck serves as the President of Partners Worldwide and has provided the strategic leadership that has helped to fuel the growth of Partners Worldwide into 20 countries. The Partners Worldwide mission is to encourage, equip and connect business and professional people in global partnerships that grow enterprises, create sustainable jobs and transform the lives of all involved. Over the past ten years these partnerships have helped to create and strengthen over 100,000 sustainable jobs.
Until 1997, Mr. Seebeck served for 19 years with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee in twelve countries throughout Asia and Africa. In his position as Program
Director in Bangladesh, Seebeck led an agricultural development team of Bengali
agronomists who worked with over 4000 small scale farmers to increase production and attain food sufficiency. Bangladesh Extension and Education Services (BEES) is now one of the leading development organizations in the country of Bangladesh.
Serving for 15 years from bases in Uganda and Kenya as Regional Director of Eastern and Southern Africa, Seebeck initiated and managed relief and development programs in eleven countries, building collaborative relationships between governments, international development agencies, donors, and local organizations that helped over 30,000 families break out of poverty.
Seebeck co-founded and currently serves as the general manager of PW Entrepreneurs
(PWE), a low-profit limited liability company (L3C) with the specific intent of expanding the Partners Worldwide business-as-ministry model to medium and large ventures around the world. With its capital and network of business professionals, PWE seeks to grow businesses in the developing world that create new jobs, bring a return to its investors, and use profits to benefit marginalized communities. PWE supports what it describes as a “quadruple bottom line approach,” where profit, people, planet and purpose are equally respected and addressed.
Doug Seebeck—Writings, Education and Family
In 2009, Seebeck co-authored the book My Business, My Mission: Fighting Poverty
Through Partnerships, which tells the stories of men and women who are using their
businesses to end poverty in their communities and around the world, describing and dramatizing practical applications of business solutions to poverty.
Seebeck received a bachelor’s in Agronomy from Washington State University and a master’s in Leadership Studies from Azusa Pacific University. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife, and has five grown children.
Christianity Empowering the Poor
Here’s the thing I discovered with the poor. Whether it was Muslims or Christians or Hindus, the poor have been socialized to believe that this was what God destined for their lives…. And when they can understand that, no, that’s not what God intended and that’s why He sent his Son, that you can have fullness of life now… when they get that, that’s when they’re really empowered.
Aid Hurting Africa
A voice from Uganda, Andrew, spoke at the leadership summit last August and he followed a compassion guy on child sponsorship, and he gave a startling message. He said, he said, “Why won’t you let Africa develop like you guys developed?” And he gave a powerful graph. At independence, Africa’s GDP was up here and then aid was down here. And then we all jumped on the bandwagon to help all these new countries and we just poured money in there and you can watch what happened. GDP went down and at the trough, at the bottom of GDP was the peak of foreign aid, and now it’s starting to come down and starting to come up, but he says, ‘That has killed us.’ He said, ‘Please,’ he said, “You see nine hundred million poor people in Africa. We see nine hundred million entrepreneurs.’
Potential for Corruption in Business
Do some businesses exploit? Yes… it’s like any institution…. I think the larger and more removed the business or church or government become from the people they claim to serve, that’s when abuse can start happening—because organizations, by their nature, can turn in on themselves. They can lose their original purpose … their reason for being.
Subsidies Hurting Markets for the Poor
In Uganda, the thing that sticks out in my mind are the farmers growing sunflowers for oil and then the USA sending in all this free oil with a handshake and giving it to local businesses and so it’s complete subsidized. Now they’re selling it in the market and just crushing that sunflower initiative up in the west Nile.
Agricultural Subsidies and Competition
What the African governments are saying, they said this six years ago to the Clinton Administration, ‘Give us access to the thing we can compete in. We can’t compete in cars. We can’t compete in manufactured goods. We can compete in agriculture. Give us access to your markets.’ … We protect what we have and then give aid for the surplus and keep people in bondage. We do. We protect what we have through subsidies and then we push our surplus onto others and put them out of business. We disempower them.
Bangladesh and Trade Tariffs
The greatest way to end poverty in Bangladesh is through job creation and trade…. Bangladesh exports garments to the U.S. They pay $580 million in tariffs on $3 billion of that trade… Now the United Kingdom, which has this favored trade status, they pay the same amount, about a half a billion, on $60 billion dollars of trade. You see, you get that? Now, if we could remove those tariffs and encourage more trade, if we could get trade going, it would be ten times the value of the aid that we give now basically.
The Poor’s Frustration with NGOs
We talk about how many trillions of dollars we’ve put into the poor countries with aid, but you know what… the bulk of that money is paying for workers from the U.S. or other intermediaries to do what we found out the Bengali farmers didn’t need in the first place. And if you listen to the poor, to what they say … they’re sick and tired of another feasibility study, another training class, which makes the NGO feel like they are the ones with the power and to give them the information. What they want is the same opportunity you and I have to succeed.
NGOs Selling Poverty
NGOs sell poverty. That’s how they stay in business. The NGOs ship this food aid. The United States gives subsidies to its farm industry. Not small farmers, farm industry. They get subsides, so they overproduce. Now the NGOs are shipping this aid, and you’re putting farmers all over the developing world out of business. But you’re also putting the U.S. small farmer out of business. And it gets bigger and bigger, and you’re squeezing out free enterprise. That’s not free enterprise. That’s big government, big corporation welfare.
Loving My Neighbor
How do I best love my neighbor? In this rapidly integrating world, how do I best love my neighbor so that everybody has the ability to have what I have? It doesn’t mean by giving it away. It means by allowing them to succeed.