James Riordan

We Do Know How: A Buyer-Led Approach to Creating Jobs for the Poor

An insider with practical experience in development work reveals how understanding market realities can more effectively reduce poverty.
This book by a practitioner—not an academic, government official, or pundit—has been written for practitioners and offers fresh thinking on how to do international development work. It combines that thinking with practical guidance, in plain English, on what to do—and perhaps just as importantly, what not to do—on the ground. We Do Know How takes buzzwords commonly used in development circles—demand-driven, results-oriented, accountability, and others—and makes them real, spelling out a proven approach for expanding business sales and generating jobs for poor people.
Although government has a role to play in development, in the end the actions of businesses drive economic growth and expand people’s incomes. We Do Know How shows how to build on the incentives that drive businesses and, in the process, create jobs for the poor. Specifically, it urges development practitioners to support only those business opportunities for which there is market demand, abiding by the maxim “produce what you can sell,” not “sell what you produce.” More than that, it cautions practitioners not to become solutions looking for problems but to search creatively for ways to solve the specific problems that stand most in the way of clients meeting buyers’ requirements.
We Do Know How challenges much conventional wisdom on how to do development work. At the same time, and in contrast to other books on development, it shows how, by maintaining focus and discipline, development practitioners can deliver demonstrable increases in jobs for those who need them.
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