Spending five years as a diplomat, Scott Guilmore saw that importing goods and services diverted billions of dollars from aid-related work. He realized the need to change behaviors and policies regulating the availability of missions, in order to regenerate local economies by building the market for local entrepreneurs, sellers and service-providers. Indeed, local businesses and entrepreneurs do have the potential to stimulate economic growth in conflict-prone countries, but are quelled by a lack of access to buyers and a lack of financing to increase production. Scott Gilmore has created a new market precisely for these producers, by establishing networks between producers and international aid organizations and by creating the processes, connections and trusting relationhips needed to get these organizations to buy locally.
His aim is to connect small business entrepreneurs to international consumers such as the United Nations and its agencies, community organizations, embassies and multinational corporations that make up significant portions of the local purchasing power in conflict-prone areas. His three-pronged approach involves: helping to create jobs by connecting international buyers to local suppliers; conducting research to increase understanding of the local impact of peace and humanitarian operations and finally increasing the efficiency of aid operations. His organization, Building Markets, has operated already in fourteen countries, including some of the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan, Timor Leste, Liberia and Haiti, and his model is about to expand to eight countries.