In November, Atlas Network's Matt Warner, Casey Pifer, and Vale Sloane joined hundreds of aid organizations in Brussels for the annual AidEx event. Billed as the global humanitarian and development event of the year, the conference attracts more than 2,500 visitors and a large presence from most of the major foreign aid agencies including USAID, GIS (Germany), and DFID (UK). All conference goers received a copy of Atlas Network's new book, Poverty and Freedom: Case Studies in Global Economic Development, in their welcome bags prompting hundreds of visitors to Atlas Network's booth.
"We were able to explain why local think tanks working to remove barriers to prosperity represent an important and undervalued resource in the fight against poverty," said Casey Pifer, Atlas Network's director of institute relations.
The conference also gave Atlas Network the opportunity to introduce themselves to journalists, international NGOs, and potential partners in developing countries all over the world.
"It was definitely a whirlwind tour of a wide variety of people who share our passion for making the world a better place and who we think may benefit from the unique perspective we bring to the challenge of poverty," explained Vale Sloane, Atlas Network's associate director of institute relations. "It was encouraging to see how many people took great interest in our work and we came home with stacks and stacks of business cards to follow up on."
Atlas Network's Matt Warner (president), Vale Sloane (associate director of institute relations), and Casey Pifer (director of institute relations).
Over the course of two days, the team shared the stories of successful think tank projects covered in the book such as the award-winning work of Centre for Development and Enterprise in Burundi whose efforts to beat back prohibitive government restrictions on business licensing led to a 49 percent increase in formal sector business registrations in one year.
"People escape poverty when the places they live become more hospitable to economic freedom and one of the best ways to achieve that kind of change is to support local think tanks who understand the local culture and can lead robust reform projects that ultimately benefit low-income populations," observed Matt Warner, Atlas Network's president. "Development experts recognize the importance of local leadership and our message to them is our global network of independent, think tanks represents that in spades."