Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Creating an Effective Alliance Around Women’s Empowerment Free Zones
Michael Strong, FLOW, Inc., & Mark Frazier, OpenWorld

Document Purpose and Audience

This document is designed as an initial communication on the concept of Women’s
Empowerment Free Zones (WEFZ) to a diverse set of alliance partners that will be needed to make WEFZs a reality. WEFZ are tax-free trade zones open to affordable communications and information technologies in which the majority of the land assets are transferred to community trusts devoted to the support of women and children. This document is designed to explain the core concepts relating to this proposal to a diverse audience of potential alliance partners, including business, government,ONGOs, and education and health care partners.

Executive Summary

Free zones as a stimulus to wealth creation are contrasted with the sustained poverty caused by poor legal infrastructure around the world. Traditional and new objections to free zones are listed and addressed. Correlations between violence and sustained poverty indicate the urgency of successfully extending the free enterprise system to the poorest regions on the planet. A more detailed analysis of the WEFZ approach to delivering full-strength economic policy and institutional reform is provided, including a development plan in which for-profit developers initially own the bulk of the free zone in order to incentivize investment, but progressively share benefits with civil society organizations. Upfront fees from developers seeking to win zone
concessions can provide immediate resources for expanded learning and health care offerings by local and global civil society partners. Sustainable success-sharing partnerships can be assured through a progressive conveyance to community trusts of 2% of zone land and infrastructure assets per year (under 30-year “Build-Operate-Transfer” or BOT agreements). Because of the need to identify the optimal sites for free zone creation, a global competition that rewards creation of small, scalable “quickstart” areas is proposed to seed the WEFZ creation process. A
sketch of the coalition partners needed for the success of this project is provided.

Finally, a scaled-up vision of an ongoing WEFZ creation process is provided by means of which numerous WEFZ may be created. An appendix with more detail on the zone Build-Operate-Transfer success-sharing framework is also provided.

FLOW, Inc., is a 501 (c) 3 organization dedicated to “Liberating the entrepreneurial spirit forgood.”

Open World is a social venture dedicated to “Spreading zones of freedom, peace, and
prosperity.” “Creating a WEFZ Alliance,” Strong and Frazier 2

Creating an Effective Alliance Around Women’s Empowerment Free Zones
What if the rental value of the most valuable land on earth, including New York, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and other urban centers, was channeled in support of women’s and children’s causes? While we can’t change existing patterns of land ownership, we can create valuable land in poor nations and regions around the world and then deed the proceeds to community trusts supporting women and children.

By means of Women’s Empowerment Free Zones (WEFZ) we propose to create trillions of
dollars of wealth on land that may be almost worthless today, and transfer that wealth over a thirty-year period into community trusts in support of women and children. In order to avoid bureaucracy and paternalism, the trusts would distribute either cash dividends or vouchers for education, health care, and lodging. This document is an introduction to WEFZ for prospective coalition organizational partners and allies. The primary purpose of this document is to outline a strategy for creating wealth that may be transferred to community trusts. The structure of the
trusts, partners involved in trust design and management, and guidelines for the distribution of trust proceeds will be deferred to a later stage of alliance development and will be largely driven by local needs.

Dubai has proven that worthless land becomes valuable land once a world-class business environment is created on that land. We propose that in exchange for the right to create such a world class business environment, legal contracts are written such that barren land around the world such as Dubai in 1990:

“Creating a WEFZ Alliance,” Strong and Frazier 3 Copyright © 2007 FLOW, Inc. is deeded in perpetuity to trusts in support of women and children’s causes. After 15-30 years of business development in such improved legal climates, these community trusts will own land that is as valuable as Dubai in 2005:

Hong Kong, Singapore, the Bahamas, and Dubai are just a few of the examples of once-almost worthless land that increased dramatically in value after a world-class legal system had been established. In fifty years, women and children’s trusts will be the perpetual owners and beneficiaries of the most valuable land around the world.
Coincidentally, as this document was being completed, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al
Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, prime minister of United Arab Emirates, and the primary driver of, and beneficiary of, Dubai free zone development in the past ten years, announced that he was creating a $10 billion foundation to provide scholarships and conduct research, the second largest philanthropic gift in history (after Buffett). While his generosity and foresight are to be commended, the premise of this paper is to formalize wealth transfer at this scale rather than rely on the wisdom of individuals such as Sheik Maktoum.

The Situation: Poor Legal Infrastructure the Primary Cause of Global Poverty
Poor legal infrastructure, with arbitrary obstacles to economic freedom, is the leading cause of poverty on earth. Hernando de Soto has shown that it often takes a year or more of full time work and thousands of dollars to legally create a business in much of the developing world. Let's work to solve this problem.

No comments: