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Month: July 2010

Develop Economies Goes to Davao

Develop Economies Goes to Davao

I am going to a Microfinance conference in Davao in southern Philippines for the next few days.  The conference is called “Beyond Credit” and will feature speakers from the Philippines and around the world.  I will consider it a fact finding mission, which I will distill in the blog here at Develop Economies.

Yunus on Microfinance: Commercialization is Code Word

Yunus on Microfinance: Commercialization is Code Word

For my non-microfinance readers, the number one debate in microfinance right now is whether or not organizations should be charging higher interest rates (or improving their operating efficiency) in order to access the capital markets, which opens the doors to huge amounts of money, but also an obligation to generate returns for your investors.  Over at the Big Think, a very cool site full of interviews with thought leaders, Muhammad Yunus shares his thoughts on the commercialization of microfinance: Commercialization…

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Aid in Haiti: Walk, Don’t Run

Aid in Haiti: Walk, Don’t Run

The devastation of the earthquake in Haiti left millions homeless and hungry.  The world rallied behind the cause, pledging billions of dollars of assistance (mostly from the United States), with private donors like you and me giving money for charities that offered services to the country in the aftermath of the disaster.  But it turns out much of that aid money never got to its intended destination, not because it was stolen, but rather that the organizations in charge of…

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China in Africa: Maybe the West Is Wrong

China in Africa: Maybe the West Is Wrong

For decades, the Western world has viewed Africa as a basket case in need of charity, giving huge amounts of aid to corrupt dictators who steal much of the money and squander the rest.  Critics of aid say it creates dependence, undermines the competitiveness of local industries, and keeps cruel dictators in power by giving them the financial wherewithal to secure their position.  Aid is a $40 billion a year business in Africa, and there isn’t too much to show…

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Pastor Rod: A Christian Evangelist’s Strange Role in the Sudan

Pastor Rod: A Christian Evangelist’s Strange Role in the Sudan

A month ago I got cable television for the first time in 8 months so that I could watch the World Cup, which airs in the Philippines at 2:30 AM.  And lately, I find myself stopping at Daystar – “faith-based TV for today’s generation” – for a lot of different reasons.  For one thing, it is difficult to comprehend just how easy it is for these guys to ask for huge amounts of money.  For another, whenever I see these…

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Develop Economies Goes to Hong Kong

Develop Economies Goes to Hong Kong

I’m heading to Hong Kong for four days of hi-jinks.  In the meantime, I’ll take the opportunity to resurrect a post I wrote that mentions Hong Kong as an example of how a colonial power created a model for a city that was exported to the mainland and catalyzed the development of China.  Can it be done somewhere else?  I’ll try to find out. “Neo-Colonialism as a Development Strategy”

Interlude: Cool Discoveries in Nature

Interlude: Cool Discoveries in Nature

In nature news, there have been two major firsts discovered in animal kingdom.  In my previous life, I was a biologist, making this post a logical tangent.  An immortal jellyfish and a photosynthetic sea slug.  It is a banner year for fans of evolution. 1.  Immortality: Take It, It’s Yours The turritopsis nutricula species of jellyfish may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth. Since it is capable of cycling from a…

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The Value Proposition of Microfinance

The Value Proposition of Microfinance

“The value proposition of microfinance doesn’t lie in it’s being the strongest tool against poverty that we can possibly imagine.  The value proposition lies in the fact that it is very helpful to cope with poverty, and it’s a very good value for money.” – Richard Rosenberg The narrative of microfinance reads that it provides money to the poor to start businesses and, in doing so, lift themselves out of poverty.  The idea that everyone is an entrepreneur plays into…

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The Awareness Dilemma: How Nicholas Kristof Gets Us to Care

The Awareness Dilemma: How Nicholas Kristof Gets Us to Care

For those who do not know, Nicholas Kristof is an incurable optimist who writes a column for the New York Times on aid, development, foreign policy, and all things related.  In a video posted to his blog, he took questions from readers.  The author of one development blog point out that most of Kristof’s articles follow a standard narrative that: “one that often focused on the foreign, typically American “savior” helping the poor Africans in need, to the exclusion of…

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A Litmus Test for Waging a War on Terror

A Litmus Test for Waging a War on Terror

The masters of war of late never seem to be the ones actually doing the fighting.  In fact, most of them have never fought, ever.  George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, David Addington, Douglas Feith, Bill Kristol, John Bolton, Marc Thiessen, and most of the other architects and cheerleaders of the miserably counterproductive and expensive War on Terror.  Fortunately, a news story from none other than fellow non-signer of the Kyoto Protocol, Somalia, has provided a model…

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