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Month: March 2011

The Scourge of NGOs

The Scourge of NGOs

Right now I am up in Tamale working with the ADVANCE office here.  I am meeting with maize farmers to help them think about how to invest in yellow maize production.  There is a financial institution that is providing credit to farmers in an effort to spur investment in yellow maize and soya beans.  They are offering a loan facility at 18% annual interest, which is much lower than the typical 30% that financial institutions offer for agriculture loans.  Being…

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Develop Economies Hits 100,000…Hits

Develop Economies Hits 100,000…Hits

Develop Economies would like to thank all of his loyal and disloyal readers for their continued patronage of the site.  It has been more than a year since I began blogging, migrating from my original site, joshweinstein.wordpress.com, to Develop Economies, with the help of the MIS team at NWTF, including Elizte, Roni, and Jubert, the MIS manager there.  So thank you to all the real readers, the spammers, the robots, and all the other non-human actors that made all of…

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The Battle for the Soul of Microfinance

The Battle for the Soul of Microfinance

Microfinance is going through some major growing pains right now, hitting its first major challenge since it hit the mainstream in 2005 after Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize.  The “silver bullet” of poverty alleviation that brought credit to those previously thought unworthy of a loan has seen an onslaught of criticism for failing to deliver on the lofty goals that its evangelists believed it could achieve (lesson: don’t overpromise). Studies have shown that the impact of providing credit…

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Commodity Speculation, Rising Food Prices, and Goldman Sachs

Commodity Speculation, Rising Food Prices, and Goldman Sachs

Old habits die hard, and the motor patterns in my fingers that brought me to the Drudge Report so many times when I worked in a cubicle in Boston once again led me to page the other day.  Living up to its reputation for sensationalism, it featured a headline recently about the escalation of food prices around the world.  Unfortunately, while Drudge is usually over-the-top, rising food prices are no laughing matter.  In 2008, the rising cost of our daily…

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Membership Drive

Membership Drive

Followers of the Develop Economies, I would like to urge each and every one of you to subscribe to Develop Economies by putting your email address in the box on the right side of the screen, or sign up to follow the blog in the “Networked Blogs” box just below it.  I want to get to 50 followers by the end of the month and, if it doesn’t happen, nothing will change.

‘Active Incubator Models’ and Management for Social Enterprises (Part 2)

‘Active Incubator Models’ and Management for Social Enterprises (Part 2)

Part two of my two-part Next Billion series. The ASEI incubation model has three phases. During the first phase, ASEI, in conjunction with the originator (or the visionary behind a would-be enterprise), develop a business model. The organization evaluates the specific value proposition of the company, and formulates a strategy for expansion, based on market demand, competitive landscape, production costs, and any other relevant information. For example, with incubator firm Invisible Sisters – which employs urban poor women to make dresses, purses…

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‘Active Incubator Models’ and Management for Social Enterprises

‘Active Incubator Models’ and Management for Social Enterprises

The following was originally posted on NextBillion.  It is the first post in a two-part series about social enterprise incubators. There is no shortage of visionaries in the world with game-changing ideas. But there is a deficit of individuals with the business acumen and management skills to make the leap from theory to action.T his is the core insight of the Asian Social Enterprise Incubator (ASEI), a Manila-based organization that identifies products and ideas with transformative potential and helps to grow them…

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Interview with Markus Dietrich of ASEI

Interview with Markus Dietrich of ASEI

The following is an interview I conducted with Markus Dietrich, the founder of the Asian Social Enterprise Incubator.  This is a complement to a two-part blog post I wrote for Next Billion, seen here. Develop Economies: How did you decide to start the ASEI? Markus Dietrich: I have a background in business.  I attended Cass Business School in London.  After he graduated he joined a business selling cash registers in 1994.  I worked with a family to develop a national distributorship. …

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A Brief History of Fresh Pineapple Exports in Ghana

A Brief History of Fresh Pineapple Exports in Ghana

Yesterday I met with the founder of a pineapple exporting company in Ghana.  He is one of the first pineapple exporters in the country, opening his operation in 1985.  He is one of the founding members of Seafreight Pineapple Exporters Group (SPEG), and is the organization’s first chairman.  He was trained as a pharmacist and originally went into pineapple export because he needed to acquire foreign exchange in order to purchase pharmaceuticals from abroad for his pharmacy business, and realized…

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Let Them Eat Cash: The New Approach to Food Aid

Let Them Eat Cash: The New Approach to Food Aid

A few years ago, I used to subscribe to Harper’s Magazine.  The lead article in one of the issues was titled “Let them eat cash: Can Bill Gates turn hunger into profit?”  It seemed interesting, but couldn’t really understand much of it at the time, since I didn’t know anything about food aid policy, or development in general.  Just the other day I met someone who is working with the World Food Program’s Purchase for Progress program out here in…

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