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Month: August 2011

Depravity or Circumstance? The Nature of Poverty

Depravity or Circumstance? The Nature of Poverty

“It is simply a fact that our social problems are increasingly connected to the depravity of the poor. If an American works hard, completes their education, gets married, and stays married, then they will rarely — very rarely — be poor. At the same time, poverty is the handmaiden of illegitimacy, divorce, ignorance, and addiction.  As we have poured money into welfare, we’ve done nothing to address the behaviors that lead to poverty while doing all we can to make that…

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Thoughts on Rugged Altruism

Thoughts on Rugged Altruism

One sign that the U.S. political scene has reached rock bottom is David Brooks writing one of his weekly columns about development workers in Nairobi.  In “The Rugged Altruists,” Brooks discusses the virtues possessed by three smart, young development workers in the course of doing this work. The first is courage – a willingness to move to a place foreign in all senses of the world.  They go to learn about what they don’t understand, and put themselves in situations…

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The Myths and Realities of Impact Investing

The Myths and Realities of Impact Investing

“[Africa] is a wonderful place to really make money. We have one billion people hungry for everything.” Mo Ibrahim A friend posted an article on his Facebook wall titled “Why Social Impact Investing is a Crock,” leaving much to the imagination.  Here is an excerpt: Over the last decade the world of do-gooding has seemingly been taken over by MBAs. Social entrepreneurship, a field encompassing both mission-driven businesses and entrepreneurial nonprofits, professes to bring the efficiency, rigor, and cold, hard…

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How to Deal with Al-Shabab and a Failed State in Somalia

How to Deal with Al-Shabab and a Failed State in Somalia

I’ve been reading a lot of opinions lately about the decline of the empire of the United States, where experts try to pinpoint the exact moment where we planted our flag atop the hill of global dominance and then began our descent down the other side (somewhere around the early 1990’s, according to the consensus).  In every calculation, the war in Afghanistan is either emblematic of a state in decline (they don’t call it the “graveyard of empires” for nothing)…

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Trust and the Invisible Hand in Agriculture

Trust and the Invisible Hand in Agriculture

The following is a guest post from Mark Brown, an agriculture value chains specialist with Engineers Without Borders Canada working in Ghana.  The post originally appeared on EWB’s blog, Untapped Markets. Market Facilitation is about fostering new relationships between businesses in agriculture. In sub-Saharan Africa much of the business that takes place happens “informally”. Informal business is any business activity that it is not overseen by the government. These activities are not taxed or regulated. They are also not legally…

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Why Don’t Americans Care About Famine in Africa?

Why Don’t Americans Care About Famine in Africa?

Former congressman Bill Frist has penned an op-ed titled “Why Americans Should Care About Famine in Africa.”  Recently back from the Dadaab refugee camp on a fact-finding mission with Jill Biden and Raj Shah, the head of USAID, he discusses the tragedy of thousands of women and children arriving daily, only to find that the camp – already overcapacity by a factor of four – cannot handle the influx of refugees.  But there is a bright spot, Frist says.  That…

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Support Kiva.org and Get Me a Free T-Shirt

Support Kiva.org and Get Me a Free T-Shirt

For those who do not know, Kiva, the online microlending website, gave me my first shot at trying to improve the lives of the poor.  When I joined the Kiva Fellows program, I was placed with Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, a micofinance institution in the Philippines.  I loved it there, and loved the work.   I began to write a blog about microfinance in Southeast Asia, which expanded in scope as my interests broadened to agriculture, energy, education, and…

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