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Category: Social Enterprise

The Convergence: America’s Long Arc of Development

The Convergence: America’s Long Arc of Development

The following is a four-part post about the phases of the economic development of nations – pre-industrial, industrial, post-industrial – and a discussion of the current state of affairs in the United States and the world. Part I: How Countries Develop For all of their differences, countries, and even civilizations, follow a similar path in their development. The timeline and specifics vary from nation to nation, but the general formula remains constant. On a high level, poor countries become rich…

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The Ethical Obligations of Writing About Poverty and Conflict

The Ethical Obligations of Writing About Poverty and Conflict

I. A Long Way Gone The other day I finished reading “A Long Way Gone”, the autobiography of Ishmael Beah, a child soldier during the country’s civil in the 1990’s. After his village was attacked by the rebel army known as the RUF (Revolutionary United Front), Beah remained in a small town called Mattru Jong, before fleeing another attack. Eventually, he made his way across the country to a village controlled by the national army, where he becomes a drug-addicted…

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Develop Economies is On Hold

Develop Economies is On Hold

Given that it has been almost two months since my last post, I owe my loyal readers an explanation for my conspicuous absence and the dearth of posts since the summer.  I am currently in graduate school, pursuing a master’s degree, and have had to put down the Develop Economies quill and pick up the calculator.  With the first semester finished and the second gearing up, I hope to write a few posts over the coming months.  Happy New Year!…

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Technology Sea Changes: Re:Char and Kiva Zip

Technology Sea Changes: Re:Char and Kiva Zip

Product design is all the rage in poverty alleviation, and has been for the past few years.  By applying the principles of lean manufacturing and waste minimization to the challenge of designing products for people living on less than a dollar a day, we can now create stripped-down products at a fraction of the cost.  But product design is only one small component of the process.  The two other challenges in bringing these products to market – financing and distribution…

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The Promise of Social Impact Bonds

The Promise of Social Impact Bonds

Over the past few weeks, social impact bonds have received a lot of attention.  That is because New York City has partnered with Goldman Sachs to run a pilot program aimed at reducing recidivism among inmates at Rikers Island prison.  But first, a little background on social impact bonds. There are many social problems for which there is no clear-cut solution.  Homelessness, foster care, inmate recidivism, and other issues are often expensive to control.  Programs designed to address them are…

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The Top Three Social Enterprises in the World

The Top Three Social Enterprises in the World

A year ago, I was sitting at the iHub in Kenya, analyzing thousands of payments made by parents of students at Bridge International Academies, trying to identify potential leading indicators of withdrawal, when Kentaro Toyama, the founder and director of Microsoft Research India, stopped in to give a lecture titled “ICT or Development: Why it’s so hard to get rich and help the poor simultaneously.”  His thesis – that it is actually very, very difficult to be both financial and…

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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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Should You Pay a Bribe?

Should You Pay a Bribe?

Around the world, money talks.  In some places, it speaks in a whisper; in others, it is like your humble correspondent at a party after one too many dark and stoney’s – loud and obnoxious.  And in Kenya, many, if not all, businesses, will at some point find themselves deciding whether or makes financial sense to pay a bribe. Corruption is not a third world vice.  There are enough Swiss bank accounts and shell companies in the Cayman Islands to…

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A Trip to Bridge International Academies

A Trip to Bridge International Academies

After one year living in Kenya, my time here is fast approaching its end.  In a few weeks, I finish work with Bridge International Academies.  I am heading to Southeast Asia for a few weeks of rest and relaxation before moving to San Francisco to help my brother launch a start-up for the summer.  After that, I am returning to school to pursue an MBA.  And so ends my two and a half years on the road.  This weekend, as…

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Non-Profit Career Advice: Urban Development

Non-Profit Career Advice: Urban Development

This is the first post in an ongoing series offering advice to people interested in learning more about international development work. Mandy Goodgoll, a Masters Candidate in International Affairs at the New School, offers advice on urban development in developing countries and emerging markets. First of all, let me say that urban development is a great field to get into. It can be analytical, creative, big, small, international, local… essentially, whatever you want it to be. Having said that, I would highly…

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