The People-Centered Economy

Jeff Mowatt
5 min readDec 16, 2020


It began with an argument that people and not maximisng shareholder value are the purpose of business:

“At first glance, it might seem redundant to emphasize people as the central focus of business. After all, is not the sole purpose of business, as well as economics, people? In other words, are not people automatically the central focus of business activities? Yes and no. “People certainly gain and benefit, but the rub is: which people? More than a billion children, women, and men on this planet suffer from hunger. It is a travesty that this is the case, a blight upon us all as a global social group. Perhaps an even greater travesty is that it does not have to be this way; the problems of human suffering on such a massive scale are not unsolvable. If, a few businesses were conducted only slightly differently, much of the misery and suffering as we now know it could be eliminated. This is where the concept of a “people-centered” economics system comes in. “

On 16th September 1996 a paper was delivered to the White House by a volunteer on Bill Clinton’s re-election committee. Then it was published online:

It was applied in Russia , Crimea , The United Kingdom and Ukraine over the next decade. .

In 2007 A ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine described a strategy for national deployment:

“This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for “people-centered” economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority — as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine’s poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a “top-down” approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first — not secondarily, along the way or by the way. “

In 2009 the term would appear in a speech by the President of the UN General Aseembly:

“The anti-values of greed, individualism and exclusion should be replaced by solidarity, common good and inclusion. The objective of our economic and social activity should not be the limitless, endless, mindless accumulation of wealth in a profit-centred economy but rather a people-centred economy that guarantees human needs, human rights, and human security, as well as conserves life on earth. These should be universal values that underpin our ethical and moral responsibility. ‘This is not merely a matter of a “third sector”, but of a broad new composite reality embracing the private and public spheres, one which does not exclude profit, but instead considers it a means for achieving human and social ends. Whether such companies distribute dividends or not, whether their juridical structure corresponds to one or other of the established forms, becomes secondary in relation to their willingness to view profit as a means of achieving the goal of a more humane market and society’ “Striving to meet the deepest moral needs of the person also has important and beneficial repercussions at the level of economics. The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly — not any ethics whatsoever, but anethics which is people-centred. . “The EU is seeking an increasingly close relationship with Ukraine, going beyond co-operation, to gradual economic integration and a deepening of political co-operation. “The purpose of this plan is to address poverty which renders children into institutions or the streets, on to a life of either crime or prostitution in a vicious cycle which has contributed to Europe’s largest HIV epidemic which the UN now considers a threat to All Europe.”

-M iguel D’Escoto Brockmann

Then in the Vatican encyclical , Caritas in Veritate

“Businesses alone are not enough to tackle poverty; the EU should foster people-centred businesses. Cooperatives and Fair Trade have shown that they put high standards and strict rules on businesses, that they put people first, and still they are successful.”

-Pope Benedict

People-Centered Economics was introduced to the EU Citizen Consultation on the social end economic future of Europe.

In 2011 through MEP Sir Graham Watson, it was introduced to Commissioner Michel Barnier who replied denying knowledge of our existence.

In 2013 A meeting of Coops Europe and Fair Trade International agreed to the promotion of people-centered business in supply chains:

“In a new report, the British Academy argued for a new breed of “purposeful” company in which directors focus more on social issues ahead of paying off shareholders.”

-Harriet Lamb, CEO Fair Trade International

In 2017 South Korea’s government announced their intention to implement a People-Centered Economy and double public spending.

The CMI came on board in 2018 with a report on purpose in business:

“The bottom line result is that purpose-driven, people-centric, values-driven companies outperform. Not just because they do better sustainably over time, but because they avoid the risk.” — Ann Francke CEO , CMI

In 2018 Vint Cerf and David Londfors published ‘The People Centered Economy’

Then in 2019 a report from The British Academy called for a reform of capitalism to put people before profit.

In 2019 Social Europe declared that “A People-Centred Economy and paticipation are key to the social future of Europe”.

“If the EU is serious about achieving an economy that works for people, it’s high time to stop sacrificing social goals in the pursuit of economic gains. Social justice cannot be achieved through social policies alone — it requires a fundamental shift in the functioning of the EU’s economic model and fiscal policies, with support from the highest political level. An annual Social Summit would be the perfect forum to fine-tune a social, sustainable and inclusive future of Europe.” Kélig Puyet, Director of Social Platform

The Business Roundtable then changed their definition of the Purpose of Business.

Originally published at



Jeff Mowatt

Putting people above profit, a profit-for-purpose business #socent #poverty #compassion #peoplecentered #humaneconomy