In 1993 I was working with remote communities on livelihood strategies, including setting up campsites. A decade later I was working with mainstream tourism businesses, helping them harness their own supply chains and their guests' spending power to deliver local economic gain. From pro-poor tourism, I shifted to work on the wider role of business in supporting sustainable livelihoods, and from there to 'rethinking capitalism 2.0'.
From 2010 to 2017 I worked with hundreds of inclusive businesses, in roles with various challenge funds and impact investors. My particular focus was on social impact - what it is, how to track it, how to adapt business models that deliver it alongside commercial return.
For the last 3 years, I have led Oxfam GB's international programmes work on Economic Justice. This has included ambitious programmes to bring women's economic empowerment and climate resilience into rice and shrimp value chains, into SME finance, and into partnerships with suppliers of MNCs. The programmes seek to shift policy, change social norms, empower community actors and particularly women, and shift enterprise practice all at once.
My core question is what is both practical and transformative? We need to do things differently today, in a way that changes the system long term. I will continue working on new economic models that build zero-carbon and inclusive economies, where the prime measure of success is not GDP growth but robust livelihoods and sustainable living.
Focusing on results is another running theme - while I've never yet been an evaluation junkie, I've ended up assessing value chains, conducting livelihood assessments, modelling economic and financial returns, developing M&E frameworks, writing impact assessment guidance sheets and manuals, and even co-authoring a book on how we can better understand impacts of tourism on poverty; because if we take our eye off results, delivery falters.