The social impact of private sector development

The private sector can have a transformational impact on peoples’ lives as a creator of jobs and producer of goods and services that poor people use. Donor agencies are paying increasing attention to how private sector development can be leveraged to support poverty reduction and sustainable, equitable and inclusive economic growth. Making use of social development thinking is essential to effective private sector development work that is responsible, inclusive, and delivers sustainable benefits to poor people.

This topic guide synthesises the most recent evidence on the social impacts of private sector development work, documenting emerging approaches and lessons learned. The private sector incorporates all economic activity that occurs outside of the state, ranging from smallholder farmers and informal entrepreneurs, to multinational corporations and the financial services sector. For the purposes of this guide, the focus is on organised firms and chains, such as agri-supply chains and large consumer base companies.

About this Topic Guide

This topic guide was written by Róisín Hinds (GSDRC, University of Birmingham). We are grateful for the suggestions and contributions of Barbara Evers (University of Manchester), Frances House (Institute for Human Rights and Business) and Md-Mamunur Rahman (Institute of Development Studies).

GSDRC Topic Guides aim to provide a clear, concise and objective report on findings from rigorous research on critical areas of development policy. Rather than provide policy guidance or recommendations, their purpose is to signpost policymakers and practitioners to the key debates and evidence on the topic of focus, to support informed decision-making.

Suggested citation

Hinds, R. (2015). The social impact of private sector development: Topic guide. Birmingham, UK: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.