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Category: Social Enterprise

Why DIY Foreign Aid Amateurs are Necessary

Why DIY Foreign Aid Amateurs are Necessary

This is part two of a two-part post about amateurs vs. professional in aid and development. In my experience, development professionals tend to be a jaded and cynical bunch, but also eternally optimistic, well-meaning, and principled.  In one post, a blogger who writes “Good Intentions are Not Enough” (another blog I read and respect) explains what it means to be an “aid professional.”  Here are a few: First and foremost – Do No Harm – whether what we do is…

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Advice to the Amateurs: Ignore the Professionals

Advice to the Amateurs: Ignore the Professionals

This is part one of a two-part post about the role of amateurs and professionals in aid and development. The other day, Develop Economies was asked to move to a different table at the iHub because a European government aid agency would be holding a workshop on gender equality.  Grudgingly, he moved.  They spent the next few hours coming up with ideas on how to “engage the private sector” to develop programs that would empower women to increase their incomes while turning…

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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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Technology Evolution and Revolution in Africa

Technology Evolution and Revolution in Africa

Chances are you have never heard of the company Huawei.  Founded in 1988, this somewhat secretive Chinese company has become the fourth largest telecoms equipment and service company in the world, just a few billion in revenue behind Nokia.   Huawei, with Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE, have prime access to China’s $59 billion 3G market that continues to grow exponentially.  But, as with other Chinese firms, Huawei’s global aspirations in the 1990’s took them to Africa to build the growing…

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Mobius Motors and Game-Changing Technologies in Africa

Mobius Motors and Game-Changing Technologies in Africa

Problems generally have a cause and an effect.  Trying to solve a problem by focusing on the effects may reduce the impact, but, if the solution fails to address the underlying issues that make it a problem in the first place, the problem will continue to exist.  In Africa, there is no shortage of people trying to address the effects of systemic problems without taking into consideration the root cause.  The best example  is food aid, which fights hunger and…

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mHealth in Northern Ghana

mHealth in Northern Ghana

This post originally appeared on Next Billion. “Some women feel they want to hide their pregnancy at the early stages. Maybe because they fear the ‘the evil eye,’ miscarriages, the unknown or visiting a midwife. These fears are normal. Here are some tips to help you deal with them: Seek healthcare even before traditional rites are performed. Nothing should prevent you from going to see a midwife at the early stages of your pregnancy.” If you are a pregnant woman…

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M-PESA and Mobile Money in Kenya

M-PESA and Mobile Money in Kenya

I’ve now been in Nairobi for two weeks and have settled in well.  I moved into my fairly upscale apartment in Kilimani, a section of Nairobi that is the beating heart of the tech and social enterprise scene here.  Up until last Saturday, I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor.  The landlord wanted to deliver a new bed frame, so I needed to let the movers into the apartment.  It was a total gong show getting this frame…

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The Economics of Solar Lanterns with Mobile Charging Stations

The Economics of Solar Lanterns with Mobile Charging Stations

Develop Economies is back after a brief hiatus.   I have finished up my work on my current project and am now taking some time to appreciate some of the aspects of Ghana I hadn’t had a chance to enjoy previously.  I spent a few days living with a rice farmer about 45 minutes by motorbike from Atsusuare in a small community along a lake fed by the Volta River.  I did some work in the field (very minor – I…

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‘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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