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Month: June 2012

What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 2

What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 2

This is part two of a three-part post on agriculture economic development.  Read part one here. In the previous post, I explained my experience working in agriculture.  In this one, I will talk more generally about the challenges of agriculture economic development in general. Needless to say, the challenges are great, as I have written about before.  And, while I feel the idea of market facilitation has merit and has seen some successes, particularly in cash crops like coffee and…

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What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 1

What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 1

This is part one of a three-part post on agriculture economic development. After the better part of a year working for Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), a microfinance institution in the Philippines, I decided to head west again – specifically, to West Africa.  In late 2010, I moved to Ghana to work with TechnoServe, a non-profit specializing in market-driven solutions to economic development.  This is really just a fancy way of saying that TechnoServe recognizes the importance of competitive…

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HIV-Positive in Philadelphia vs. Uganda

HIV-Positive in Philadelphia vs. Uganda

“What does it mean to say that one life is “worth more” than another? Aren’t all lives infinitely precious? Well, no, at least not in any sense that’s at all useful for making hard policy decisions about things like job safety and access to medical care. Economists measure the value of a life by people’s willingness to pay for safety. Suppose you’d willingly cough up $50,000—but no more—to shave one percentage point off your chance of being killed in an…

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Luck of the Draw: Poverty and Success

Luck of the Draw: Poverty and Success

A few weeks ago, the class of 2012 graduated from university and stepped out into the world.  And one commencement speech, in particular, has been attracting a lot of attention for its candor and unexpected message: that the success of the graduates sitting in the audience is due, in large part, to luck. Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker and Moneyball, spoke to the graduates of Princeton University and tried to make them recognize just how lucky they are: People…

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Happy Father’s Day (Develop Economies Becomes a Book)

Happy Father’s Day (Develop Economies Becomes a Book)

Just shy of three years ago, this blog came into existence.  It had a very simple layout and was located at joshweinstein.wordpress.com.  Over time, it grew in both scope and traffic, precipitating the move to a more professional layout and a re-branding as Develop Economies, a name I came up with at the spur of the moment.  This week, the blog will reach half a million pageviews, which is something I never could have imagined.  And in the beginning, there…

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What Do I Think of Social Enterprise?

What Do I Think of Social Enterprise?

In the last five posts, I have described in detail how Bridge International Academies has created a scalable model that can profitably serve the poorest segments of the population.  They use data to make decisions, processes to ensure quality, and technology to streamline systems.  In other words, they act like a business. This is how every social enterprise should work.  In fact, this is how every company should work.  Pilot, test, measure, implement, and repeat.  But this is not how…

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What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 5

What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 5

The following is part five of a five-part post about education in development and Bridge International Academies. In the last post, I talked about how Bridge is able to leverage its economies of scale to both utilize huge amounts of data to make decisions and, once those decisions are made, they can be rolled out en masse.  I will give a few concrete examples of how this works in practice. Last September, we wanted to see whether offering a free…

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What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 4

What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 4

The following is part four of a five-part post about education in development and Bridge International Academies. The first and most obvious criticism of the Bridge model of education is that a scripted curriculum creates a non-dynamic learning environment for children.  The western model of education is presmised on the idea that critical thinking is essential to success.  The very idea of a liberal arts education is a distinctly Western concept.   So, naturally, when people here that our teachers are…

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What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 3

What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 3

The following is part three of a five-part post about education in development and Bridge International Academies The Bridge model is a fundamentally libertarian idea.  It is premised on the belief that school choice is a good thing.  Many organizations, including development titans like UNICEF, believe that education should be a public good, provided free by the government.  This may be true in theory, but, like most development theories, it is rarely true in practice. For example, Kenya already technically…

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What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 2

What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 2

I think that one of the reasons that Bridge has been so successful at innovating has been its willingness to bring in a multidisciplinary team to run the show.  People like me, who have no background in education, but a good deal of experience in other areas, bring fresh ideas to an industry that, apart from certain ed-tech companies and charter schools like KIPP, is not known for innovation.  Our head of operations was the former director of business development…

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