Graduate students in the Tsinghua-SAIS Dual Degree Program met with Justin Finnegan, the founding managing director of the Mountain Hazelnuts Group, on September 19th. Mr. Finnegan previously served as a White House Fellow, as well as a Fulbright and Trustman Scholar, and has worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development under the Obama Administration. He studied at Harvard and Peking universities and has performed research in Yunnan province at the border of Myanmar and Tibet.
9月19日，2017清华－霍普金斯项目学者即新一届青思智库成员在清华大学明斋与Mountain Hazelnuts集团创始人兼董事总经理贾斯汀·芬内根（Justin Finnegan）先生进行了面对面交流。芬内根先生是美国富布莱特（Fulbright）和特拉斯特曼（Trustman）学者， 2013－2014年度白宫学者，曾在奥巴马政府时期供职于美国国际开发署（USAID）和美国国务院。他本科就读于哈佛大学，后又于普林斯顿大学和北京大学进行学习。在中国期间，芬内根曾在云南省的中缅和滇藏边界生活，并在那里开展多次研究活动。
Mr. Finnegan described his experiences as a founding member of the Mountain Hazelnuts Group and contrasted those with his experiences working with the United States Government in development. Mountain Hazelnuts Group is the largest private employer in Bhutan and invests in farmers to drive strong social, environmental, and commercial returns and improve the country's economy. Mr. Finnegan’s organization functions primarily with local staff, providing on-the-job training and transitional skills. In this aspect, Mountain Hazelnuts Group contributes to development while functioning within the for-profit private sector. While working at USAID, Mr. Finnegan noted that government bodies play more of a coordinating role.
Often, multiple countries come together to identify and fund key objectives for development in specific regions and/or countries. Government organizations advocate for or design a specific program, then procure NGOs and other organizations to implement the project. Due to differences in goals, private and public sector development work face separate hurdles. In the public sector, NGO-run projects are susceptible to ending due to low donation rates, at which point capacity gained during the project can be easily lost. In the private sector it is more difficult to identify a market that addresses local needs in a community conscientious way, while providing profit for investors.
Upon request, Mr. Finnegan identified additional factors to consider prior to starting a company internationally that includes intentional development of the target country. For Mountain Hazelnuts, key considerations were corruption levels in agriculture, domestic political objectives, and domestically available resources. Bhutan’s government has a history of being environmentally conscious, with very low levels of corruption in agriculture, and a desire to increase the capacity of rural farmers to earn an income that incentivizes them to stay in agriculture. These factors made Bhutan an ideal place to start a cultivation-based company; however, the variability between countries in these aspects also makes replication of this success difficult.
Because of his extensive field study and work experience in rural areas of China and Bhutan, students asked Mr. Finnegan for his take on China’s current domestic development initiatives concerning the rural poor. China is in the process of taking a different approach to decrease poverty than what is occurring in Bhutan in correlation with the Mountain Hazelnuts Group. China has been one of the most successful countries in history in bringing people out of poverty in a short period of time. Recently the Chinese central government has started a new anti-poverty objective for local governments by setting specific deadlines for reducing poverty. This deadline system, along with a well-designed incentive system that increases creativity while providing central government support to anti-poverty initiatives, can further improve China’s record for rapid domestic development.
With successful domestic development initiatives in place, China is starting to become more involved in international development. Mr. Finnegan took this opportunity to note the importance of effective collaboration and increasing government trust between the United States and China in the development field. Currently China, the United States, and the
African Union are working together to monitor zoonotic diseases. While researchers from all sides can agree and focus on addressing this life-threatening issue together, governments had to work through bureaucratic differences to allow the researchers to collaborate. Government collaboration is often difficult due to misunderstandings and differences in systematic approaches, but is necessary for good policy development.
Mr. Finnegan provided a comprehensive view of development from the public and private sector perspective. He emphasized the public sector’s ability to have overarching impacts, and the private sector’s ability to bring creative, fast-paced change. The Tsinghua-SAIS program would like to thank Mr. Finnegan for his time and insights into the multifaceted world of development.
芬内根先生首先向学者们介绍了他作为Mountain Hazelnuts集团创始人的经历，并将其与他在美国政府部门中的工作经历进行了对比。作为不丹最大的外资企业之一，Mountain Hazelnuts集团通过为当地农民创造可持续的经济利益，对不丹的国家经济产生了积极的影响。在芬内根的带领下，集团与当地员工进行密切的合作，为他们提供丰富的在职培训以提高他们的职业技能。通过这种式，Mountain Hazelnuts集团有效地将企业盈利与促进当地经济发展结合在了一起。芬内根说，“在美国发展部门的工作经历让我明白，在发展问题上，政府机构应该发挥的更多是一种协调作用。”
不同于普通的创业，在创建致力于解决一个国家发展问题的国际企业之前，芬内根首先明确了自己需要额外考虑的一些关键因素。对于Mountain Hazelnuts来说，这些需要被考虑到的关键因素是农业领域的腐败程度、国家的政治目标以及国内可获取的资源。不丹一直以来都有着很强的环保意识，且农业腐败水平低，政府也希望增强农民创收的能力以鼓励其留在农村。这些因素使得不丹成为了开办一家以种植业为主要业务的公司的理想场所。正是因为这些关键因素在很多国家不能得到满足，Mountain Hazelnuts在不丹的成功模式很难在别的国家得到复制。