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An Inclusive Emerging Economy, With Africa in the Lead -

An Inclusive Emerging Economy, With Africa in the Lead - | Bottom of the Pyramid |
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10 Ways Universities Can Improve Entrepreneurship Education

10 Ways Universities Can Improve Entrepreneurship Education | Bottom of the Pyramid |
Nowadays, global business changes at such a stunning pace, entry-level professionals barely have time to acclimate themselves to a new company, a new competitive environment, or new operational requirements. The challenges faced by young workers include lack of experience, a complex corporate world, and business education that is too theoretical and out of sync with companies’ day-to-day needs.

But business school doesn’t have to be a part of the problem; higher-learning institutions can make their degrees more engaging and hands-on by blending the traditional economic and business dogmas with real-world, practical experiences and operational challenges, which will help to better prepare students for the working world.

I reached out to experts from across the country for their advice on this matter and came up with 10 recommendations for how to improve entrepreneurship education, from successful social entrepreneurs, endowed professors, researchers, business owners, startup founders, and researchers. Here are the easy-to-implement ways universities can put their degrees on the competitive map and empower students effectively, readying them for productive careers.

1. Focus More on Case Studies

Case studies are an effective method to spur students’ curiosity, putting them face-to-face with real-life business situations. By studying past or present corporate success stories and operational hiccups, students can dig deeper into processes and procedures that executives follow to make decisions.

And this is what a business degree should teach—the thinking pattern a manager formulates to analyze a situation, evaluate alternatives, choose a solution, and track progress over time.

Business case studies are now part of curricula at the graduate level, but it would be beneficial for both students and universities to also make it an essential component of undergraduate programs.

2. Link Curricula to Real-World Business Challenges

Universities can jumpstart their business degrees by linking their curricula to real-life business challenges. For example, when teaching social media marketing, a lecturer can point to how companies like Facebook and Twitter have become the promotional fulcrum for many businesses around the world. Similarly, a finance professor can use the 2008 mortgage crisis to instill in students notions as diverse as quantitative easing, inflation and monetary policy.

3. Create Opportunities for Students to Participate in Social Entrepreneurship Contests

There is nothing more engaging and hands-on than letting students participate in some type of entrepreneurship contests. This includes both social entrepreneurship businesses that may focus more on a social cause and tech startup ventures.  No wonder shows like The Apprentice and Shark Tank have drawn viewers and critical acclaim from all over the world.

Ideally, an entrepreneurship contest can pit two or several student groups against each other—if the contest is sponsored by a single university. Alternatively, a group of institutions can get together and sponsor such contests.

4. Partner with Businesses

Prominent universities already have partnership agreements with businesses, whereby they regularly send students to work temporarily as interns at specific organizations. Entrepreneurship-in-Residence is also an innovative way to foster practical knowledge and allow young professionals to rub elbows with established and experienced entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship-in-Residence programs facilitate pairing of successful entrepreneurs and startup founders—who serve as mentors and give lectures—with campuses to offer students a real-world perspective of business and entrepreneurship. As Michael Simmons, co-founder and partner of Empact, put it: “Colleges and universities can now contribute the most by serving as the glue that connects students to the rest of the ecosystem.”

Again, this kind of partnership exists already in executive MBA programs at prominent universities, but the idea is to expand it to other, if not all, higher-learning institutions and also include social entrepreneurs as part of these programs.

5. Invite Business Executives to Deliver Lectures

Some institutions, like the Kellogg School of Management, have found new ways to make entrepreneurship teaching more engaging, vibrant, and effective. They occasionally invite business executives and ask them to teach a full course, make a presentation, or share their experiences with students.

Such initiatives have produced excellent results so far, because students can quickly learn and grasp real-world insight that tomes and tomes of business literature might not deliver so pointedly.

6. Provide Consulting Services to Small Businesses and Nonprofits

Universities can make money—and make business courses engaging—by providing consulting services to small businesses and nonprofit agencies. Conceptually, a professor would lead the consulting team of students, formulating operational priorities and guiding students throughout the consulting engagement.

This scenario is a win-win for all parties involved. Students learn practical stuff and how to cope with business tedium and nonprofit leaders; universities and faculty members make extra cash; and small businesses and nonprofits pay affordable rates for high-quality consulting services.

7. Help Students Launch Their Own Businesses

In a global economy plagued by high levels of unemployment, nothing would be better than helping students launch their own businesses. Universities can work in partnership with student-entrepreneurs—and institutions such as the Small Business Administration—to conduct market research, obtain financing, and create viable businesses.

The student-entrepreneur learns in the process, and his or her classmates also expand their practical knowledge.

8. Emphasize Technology Topics in Curricula

Technology has asserted its supremacy on today’s global economy. Higher-learning institutions can jumpstart their students’ careers by incorporating more technology topics in curricula.

The idea is not to clog academic programs with coding, programming and computer-hardware courses, but to teach strategic ways companies and entrepreneurs are using technology to innovate, communicate, advertise, and make money.

9. Foster Global Exchange Programs with Other Institutions

Global exchange programs are nothing new, but the concept has not expanded as it should to business programs. For example, the Erasmus program in Europe allows students of Eurozone countries to start a degree program in one country and finish it in another. Similar programs, such as the one spearheaded by the New York Institute of Technology, also exist in the United States and elsewhere.

The concept here is to broaden the exchange program to other institutions, inviting students with varied cultural and professional backgrounds.

10. Encourage Student-in-Residence Programs

Student-in-residence programs are comparable to internships, except that students get hands-on experience, work a specific number of hours at the host company—say, 20 hours a week—and complete coursework that ultimately is graded and counts towards the course’s final GPA.

Similar to entrepreneur-in-residence programs, student-in-residence programs allow students and experienced professionals to learn from each other while discussing and solving real-world business challenges.

To encourage entrepreneurship in students, whether it be social or for-profit, universities must offer more practical coursework, blending the theory in the traditional economic literature with the tangible needs of everyday business management. The education should be experiential, hands-on, and action-driven to give students a real-world experience. Let’s give entrepreneurship students the sink-or-swim test in the Shark Tank.

Dr. Emad Rahim is an entrepreneur-in-residence at Oklahoma State University and a visiting scholar at Rutgers University.
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How can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People’s Donations? | The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab

How can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People’s Donations? | The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab | Bottom of the Pyramid |
John List
PARTNERS: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Harvard University Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
LOCATION:  United States
SAMPLE:  52,988 prior Technoserve donors and 61,483 new Technoserve donors
TIMELINE: 2009 - 2010
THEMES: Finance & Microfinance
Policy Issue: 
Altruistic individuals may hesitate to give because of doubts about the quality of charities. Or they may give, but lack the information necessary to make the best choice they can. Charities know this and work hard to signal their quality to donors. For example, charities ask large, high-profile supporters—who may be perceived as able to assess the quality of charities—to publicize their contributions. Large gifts, such as matching grants and seed grants, may work through several mechanisms, and understanding better the importance of different mechanisms can help large donors (and their charities) structure gifts optimally in order to have the most leverage possible. 

Context of the Evaluation: 
As of 2011, U.S. giving to charitable and religious organizations exceeded 2 percent of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Such private contributions are an important source of funding for many nonprofit organizations, including Technoserve, a medium-sized (with a 2008 revenue of US$42.2 million) charity based in the U.S. Technoserve works with entrepreneurs in impoverished areas around the world to improve their businesses and raise their incomes. One of Technoserve’s major donors is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)—a well-known private foundation also based out of the US, focusing on global health, agricultural development, financial services for the poor, and emergency response.

Details of the Intervention: 
Researchers conducted two direct marketing tests to assess the impact of providing a matching grant from BMGF on Technoserve’s direct mail fundraising efforts. 
In the primary test, 52,988 prior Technoserve donors were randomly assigned to receive solicitation letters announcing a 2:1 matching grant. The treatment named the source as BMGF, and the comparison named the source as anonymous.
The secondary test examined the impact of the match, relative to no match, as a means to verify that in this context, a matching grant would have an effect on giving.
Results and Policy Lessons: 
Impact of naming the matching donor: In the primary test, those given a letter naming BMGF as the matching donor gave at a 0.23 percentage point higher rate than those who received a letter which identified the matching donor as anonymous. Individuals receiving letters naming BMGF were also more likely to be repeat donors. As in the first intervention, there was no effect on average gift size for those who contributed. This result was driven by the subsample of letter recipients whose name had been rented from other poverty charities (rather than disease charities), suggesting some familiarity with BMGF and their focus on poverty. Authors interpret this as suggestive evidence that in fact naming BMGF worked as a quality signal, not merely a social contagion effect from an industry leader.
Impact of the matching grant: Those given a letter which stated that BMGF would match their contribution were 0.4 percentage points more likely to make a donation as compared to those who received a letter with no mention of a matching grant (an 80 percent increase from 0.5 percent). Those given the information about the matching contribution were also more likely to be repeat donors, compared to those who received a letter that said nothing of a matching contribution. There was no effect on average gift size for those who contributed. 
Researchers suggest these findings indicate that the naming of BMGF as a matching donor acted as a quality signal for Technoserve. Large and trusted donors may be able to multiply their funding impact by publicizing their donations to lesser-known non-profits, perhaps by guaranteeing a matching contribution. 
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How An Affordable Housing Company In Mexico Tripled Its Social Impact

How An Affordable Housing Company In Mexico Tripled Its Social Impact | Bottom of the Pyramid |
International human rights law recognizes that everyone has a right to an adequate standard of living, but rights to adequate housing are rarely guaranteed, especially for those living on the margins of society.

“Millions around the world live in life- or health-threatening conditions, in overcrowded slums, and informal settlements or in other conditions which do not uphold their human rights and their dignity,” according to United Nations, which recognizes that a home is more than four walls and a roof.

There are up to 10 million people in rural Mexico — most of them agricultural workers and their families — who need a new home or home improvements in order to meet internationally recognized standards for adequate housing. In areas like Campeche, many families huddle together in a single bedroom — tin roof above, dirt floor below. “They live in shacks, carton or stick shacks,” said Raffaella Piazzesi.

But not after Piazzesi and her team from the for-profit housing development company ¡Échale! a tu Casa show up in town. Since 2006, they’ve built and sold 30,000 new homes and made 150,000 home improvements.

1973 Delhi Slum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ¡Échale! story is one of positive social disruption. It begins in 1997 after Hurricane Nora ripped through southwest Mexico. The Mexican government asked ¡Échale! — then a not-for-profit — to help with reconstruction by providing houses for one of the affected communities, providing disaster relief and effective charity work.

“It was pretty successful,” Piazzesi said. “We did the homes, people were happy, everyone was happy. We wanted to do another program with other people affected by the same hurricane, but the government decided their help had stopped. They didn’t want to continue giving away houses.”

So ¡Échale! went ahead without help from the Mexican government. They raised the funds needed to continue providing displaced and underserved people with housing solutions. Rather than building temporary, prefab houses, they created more long-term solutions: houses made of cement, steel, and their own eco-friendly, sun-baked Adoblocks.

Business was good. But when ¡Échale! sent a team to check-in with some of their families, what they found surprised them.

“Some of the houses were literally abandoned,” Piazzesi said. “Others were not treated right. People did not see the great benefit they had by having a house, because it was handed down to them as charity. We didn’t like that.”

The company regrouped, nine years after its first housing project.

“The way that we were working, and the impact we were having, was great — but it was really small,” Piazzesi said. “We were not growing fast. So that’s when we decided to spin-off as a for-profit.”

Profit is often considered a four-letter word in the development sector. But since ¡Échale! switched to a for-profit model — focusing its operations on offering the best houses possible at the lowest prices rather than fundraising — the company has made three times the impact, Piazzesi said.

There was a hidden benefit, too.

“When we started charging for houses, we started seeing a completely different mindset from the participants,” she said. “They saw it as something they were creating, not as something given to them — it was their work, their effort, their home. It was amazing to see.”

¡Échale! does more than just sell housing units, it uses a holistic approach to build communities, Piazzesi said. The company’s staff, architects, and engineers get to know their customers on a personal level — they move in next door during the construction process.

Staff advise rural farming families about the benefits of owning a home with a foundation, especially for families with children, and the comforts of services like running water, sanitation, and energy (solar power is a new option).

Once there is enough interest from the target community, ¡Échale! hosts a design and financial training workshop. The company showcases a basic model and allows the participants to add or remove key elements before they settle on a single blueprint to be used throughout the community. ¡Échale! home buyers are also trained to build their own doors and windows, while they master the construction process with Adoblocks, produced on-site with local resources like adobe, sand, and cement.

New homes cost between $6,000 and $12,000 apiece, and customers are asked to pay 10 percent of the total cost up front. That’s quite an investment for families who earn, on average, $8,800 per year.

Traditionally, ¡Échale! home buyers would qualify for a government subsidy, disbursed by third-party financial intermediaries that charged interest rates as high as 80 percent. Four years ago, the Mexican government capped those rates at 30 percent, but, as Piazzesi explained, “they still charge commissions and fees, making the actual effective annual interest rate somewhere between 60 and 70 percent — it’s huge.”

¡Échale! has designs on disrupting that system. They just launched their own non-profit finance company with pro bono support from American Express, to provide their hard-working customers with bigger housing credits and lower interest rates, helping them pay off their homes in a more timely manner.

“We’re not profiting from these credits,” Piazessi said. “We just charge an interest rate to be sustainable. The idea is that with this financial arm, we will be able to reach those who cannot meet the harsh conditions that other financial intermediaries impose, and we’ll be able to grow faster and reach new markets.

“Customers are excited that a ‘friend’ is the one that lends them the money — someone they already know and trust.”

When asked what the established (profiteering) financial intermediaries think about ¡Échale!’s latest program, Piazzesi laughed. “We don’t really know,” she said. “We haven’t asked them.”
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The G8 Task Force Report: Making Impact or Making Believe? (SSIR)

The G8 Task Force Report: Making Impact or Making Believe? (SSIR) | Bottom of the Pyramid |
While the recent report of the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force has the potential to advance the field of impact investing, it subverts this goal by virtually omitting the key factor of “investment impact”: whether an investment has the potential to improve the social, environmental, or health outcomes of an investee enterprise. Just because an investee is doing great things doesn’t mean that your investment will help it do more or better.
The G8 report cites very optimistic predictions about the growth of impact investments. But the danger of ignoring investment impact, sometimes termed “additionality,” is that the sector will appear to grow through the self-delusion of investors without actually increasing its social impact.
The G8 had several working groups. The Impact Measurement Working Group extensively analyzed the important question of whether the investee enterprise itself has impact. But a particular investment can only have impact if it increases the quantity or quality of an enterprise’s social outputs—for example, more disadvantaged students receiving better educations. And this requires that either: 1) the investment provides the enterprise with capital that would otherwise not be available or that would not be available on as favorable terms, or 2) the investors or their agents provide significant non-financial benefits to the enterprise, such as technical assistance or keeping the investee true to its social mission.
The social impact of investments can be arrayed on a spectrum ranging from very high to negligible. Concessionary investments—investments that expect below risk-adjusted returns—lie at the high end. Because ordinary commercial investors are not willing to sacrifice returns, concessionary investments are likely to increase the output of an enterprise that is capital-constrained.
Investments in large cap, publicly traded companies lie at the low impact end of the spectrum. To take just one example, while telecommunications companies create enormous social benefits, it is the nature of public markets that my buying stock in AT&T—even many millions of shares—will not extend service to a single new mobile phone user. My dollars go to another investor, not to the company.
There’s a large middle area, mainly populated by venture capital and private equity where, because of information asymmetries, non-concessionary investments may increase enterprises’ social outputs. Whether or not impact investors can make a difference—whether they create additionality—depends in large measure on whether or not commercial investors are adequately capitalizing the enterprises. For example, a savvy impact fund manager may scope out a combination of financial and social opportunities that other managers regard as too risky, thus providing its investors with good financial returns as well as impact. And, again, the investors may play a role in protecting the enterprise’s social mission.

An impact investor whose investment provides additionality is like a driver who has his foot on the gas and is actually making the car move toward its destination. An investor who does not provide additionality is like a child playing with a plastic toy dashboard which, as the ad says, “creates realistic driving fun.”
Additionality is not a novel concept. Indeed, it plays a central role in the value-added analysis of Bridges Ventures, a highly regarded pioneer impact investing firm. Bridges’ Impact Report explains: “Our additionality analysis asks whether our target outcomes will occur anyway, without our investment. In this sense, additionality defines our impact, allowing us to tell our investors whether their funds are creating societal value.”
Yet the main G8 document does not say a word about investment impact or additionality. The Impact Measurement Working Group’s report refers briefly to the concept in a few obscure lines at the end of its 32-page report. Although the minimal representation of public equities in the Asset Allocation Working Group’s pro forma impact portfolio is a sign of its appreciation of the issue, it too is silent on the subject.
Why does the report ignore or relegate to a dark corner such a fundamental concept? Based on communications with some of the G8 report writers and others in the field, the main concern seems to be that the concept will confuse and discourage potential impact investors. One of the Measurement Working Group members wrote to me saying, “there was collective feedback that each investor should decide whether to give weight to additionality for himself/herself.” But one might say exactly the same thing about assessing the enterprise’s impact, to which the entire Measurement Working Group’s report is devoted.
While the Impact Measurement Working Group states that investors should have the tools to ascertain additionality, it makes no effort to suggest what those might be. But actually, it is easier to estimate the additionality of investments than the impact of the enterprises themselves. So in an effort to stimulate the development of such tools, here’s a proposal that banks, impact investment fund managers, wealth managers, and intermediaries in the field such as the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) could readily adopt. It is quite similar to Bridges’ high-medium-low scoring of additionality in the report mentioned above.
Because quantitative indicators of nutrition—such as calories, fat, and salt—confuse most consumers, some food stores and cafeterias use a simple traffic-light labeling system: green for healthy, red for unhealthy, and yellow for in-between.

Players in the impact investing system could label their investment products along similar lines.
Green for concessionary investments and for non-concessionary investments that self-evidently provide funds to undercapitalized enterprises, or where the investor provides unique and significant non-financial benefits. (Even here, some concessionary investments might be market-distorting, so a degree of caution is always warranted.)
Red for most investments in public markets, and for investments in enterprises that are equally attractive to ordinary commercial investors—except where impact investors use shareholder activism to press the firms toward impact-driven strategies.
Yellow for the large realm in-between. As with actual traffic lights, yellow means “proceed with caution.” If the investee enterprise is attracting lots of commercial capital, then an investment will likely produce little or no impact. But if the investment will meaningfully reduce the cost of capital to the enterprise (or provide non-monetary benefits that will increase its impact), the investor can proceed with some confidence.
Whether or not such an approach is the best way to provide investors with the tools to measure their impact remains to be seen. In the realm of food, the traffic light system is not attractive to vendors who profit from selling unhealthy junk products, and many consumers ignore the traffic lights, wanting to believe that foods they like are healthy notwithstanding the signal. As applied to impact investing, the system may encounter similar resistance from some banks, wealth managers, and fund managers, and from investors themselves, for whom questions of actual impact may reduce the warm glow of doing a good deed. But these problems will abide the day.
The G8 group has completed its work and disbanded. But given the GIIN’s commitment to increasing the effectiveness of impact investing, that organization would seem ideally suited to carry forward such an exploration.
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How 'Bureaucrackers' Can Use Bureaucracy To Advance Social Entrepreneurship

How 'Bureaucrackers' Can Use Bureaucracy To Advance Social Entrepreneurship | Bottom of the Pyramid |
Lieve Fransen is the Director responsible for Europe 2020: Social Policies in Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission. In preparation for the GlobalizerX Summit on Employment, we wanted to get to know her story better, chat about her work and the European social entrepreneurship policy, as well as find out what social innovations excite her and how she sees the future of this sector.

Ashoka: What’s the role of the European Commission in supporting social entrepreneurs?

Lieve Fransen: When I arrived at the Commission, one of the first things I told my staff was to stop looking only at the public administration of public services, and to focus also on harnessing the innovative approaches put forward by social entrepreneurs. Throughout my life, I’ve worked with the private sector, NGOs and entrepreneurs and I think social entrepreneurs are key in generating social outcomes. However, I don’t think either they are the panacea for the unemployment problems we have in Europe. Social entrepreneurs shape a more entrepreneurial culture and instill the value of doing good while doing well, which could indeed have a long-term impact on our economy and the way new jobs are created.

From the public administration point of view, I think it is essential to understand that we cannot do the job for the entrepreneurs, but what we can do is to create incentives, provide appropriate mentorship, promote a favorable culture so that entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship can thrive.

Ashoka: Tell us about your personal journey. How and why are you where you are now? Is there any particular experience that had a changemaking impact on your career path?

Fransen: It was early on in my childhood that my parents discovered my drive and motivation to change things. When I decided to study medicine it was because I wanted to improve people’s lives in the developing world and my medical degree would have helped me to do that. In one of my first jobs in Africa, I was in charge of 300,000 people and I was the only doctor. In front of the hospital, somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Northern Mozambique, there was a queue of thousands of people standing in the sun outside waiting to be seen by a doctor. How was I supposed to see 300,000 people? Some people would have probably run away: this was really not something I was trained for. But I was there to stay. Given the number of the patients, I figured that the only way to deal with such a situation was to focus on a systemic approach, combining the provision of efficient medical treatments with prevention activities. If there were not enough nurses, I would train mothers to stay with the children in the hospital, which is now a general practice! This is how I started to develop policies.

I never imagined working for the European Commission. I was in Kenya when AIDS was discovered and 10% of my patients were affected. This led me to be one of the first reporters in the US talking about AIDS in Africa. After my PhD at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, I was speaking about AIDS as a developmental threat rather than just a disease. A Commissioner heard me and asked me to come to the Commission to start a program for AIDS, then for health and later on moved towards communication and the social policy agenda.

Ashoka: How can a public official innovate inside a European institution?

Fransen: I’d say we need first to be in a listening mode. It’s time we took a deeper look into the needs of the private sector and support businesses to create the jobs, rather than getting in their way or us taking over. Then, we need to stop looking at problems, and instead see them as challenges expecting solutions. We need more “bureaucrackers”, people who use the bureaucracy, the existent tools to do something and instead of coming up with problems, presenting the possible solutions.

Ashoka: Could you tell us about a social innovation you’re excited about?

Fransen: I love working with Video Volunteers, an Indian social enterprise which aims to ensure that the voices of the poor are heard in mainstream media. As member of their Board, I often spend my holidays working with them in India. Video Volunteers provides phones to untouchables to make videos about their lives and their problems – it can be about everything, but they all need to have a solution in mind. They started small, but now they’ve covered up the whole country, they feed TV stations and sell to CNN, influencing mainstream media on the issues and perspectives of marginalized communities.

Ashoka: How do you think the social entrepreneurship sector will look ten years from now?

Fransen: Europe needs a more young, mobilizing, “yes we can” spirit. I’d like to see more young and senior people taking risks. Tapping into the experience of senior/retired entrepreneurs could be a great opportunity to increase the success rate of social enterprises.

We’ve waited for too long for the state to solve the problems, and I hope social entrepreneurs change our society so that we stop being passive and go find solutions ourselves. That would for sure create a more energetic society.
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How can personality tests improve the health service in Pakistan?

How can personality tests improve the health service in Pakistan? | Bottom of the Pyramid |
An unmotivated bureaucrat slowing down care in hospitals is a stereotype in much of the developing world. Is it true?
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Africa’s growing population calls for research to increase food production

Africa’s growing population calls for research to increase food production | Bottom of the Pyramid |
Insight into business in Africa
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Scooped by Performances Veille BoP! | Microfinance's Irresistible Story | Microfinance's Irresistible Story | Bottom of the Pyramid |
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A Working Model for Slum Rehabilitation (SSIR)

A Working Model for Slum Rehabilitation (SSIR) | Bottom of the Pyramid |
How innovative regulation is enabling private capital to deliver social impact and realize attractive returns in Mumbai.
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Scooped by Performances Veille BoP! | Training Africa’s 'Micropreneurs' | Training Africa’s 'Micropreneurs' | Bottom of the Pyramid |
Sub Saharan Africa is changing. In the midst of an entrepreneurship revolution, its countries now have more than twice as many startups as established businesses. Malawi – one of its poorest countries – is seeing an influx of “micropreneurs” whose small-scale ventures are helping to invigorate their communities, providing a sustainable means of breaking the poverty trap. 
Microfinance, in enabling budding entrepreneurs to get their ventures off the ground, is vital in fuelling the micropreneur revolution, and for female entrepreneurs in Malawi, it’s a lifeline. While women are known to repay loans at a higher rate than men, female entrepreneurs face significant obstacles to accessing financial services like banking and credit. For these women, microfinance is only as effective as the training and mentorship that accompanies it. 
But with high illiteracy and innumeracy levels amongst their clients, how can loan officers work effectively with the women micropreneur community in Malawi? As a microfinance charity serving women in Malawi and Zambia, it’s a question the MicroLoan Foundation (where I work as director of fundraising and marketing) has asked itself from the outset. Not only have just 6 percent of women aged 15-49 completed secondary education, many of the women we support live in remote locations where training must be conducted under the shade of a tree, rather than in the privacy of a classroom. 
That’s why MicroLoan Foundation has developed tailored modules to cater to these circumstances, teaching our 30,000+ clients everything they need to know about topics like group dynamics, leadership, and how to calculate cost, revenue and profit. 
Support groups for women interested in receiving loans and training typically have 12-20 members including a chairwoman, secretary and treasurer. Starting with the opening of a bank account and a savings plan, the group works to create long-term goals and understand cash flow. 
Each group’s training programme aims to:
Avoid excessive written information: Training programmes are participatory, using role-play, song, dance and pictures to make learning accessible to women without a formal education. Exercises are illustrated using the resources at hand, from tree leaves to pebbles.
Involve the family: Husbands are encouraged to take an interest in the businesses and are invited to join a training meeting to understand how their wives are participating. This approach helps facilitate a supportive home environment for clients.   
Provide ongoing support: Women receive training before their first loan, covering subjects such as group solidarity, money management and understanding their rights and responsibilities. Every fortnight, groups receive more training, with eight learning modules completed over the course of four months.
Meet objectives: Each hour-long training session is tailored to feature learning objectives that help achieve sustainable change for the group of women. During these training sessions, the treasurer collects each repayment from individual members of the group, to ensure that women use their business profits to make loan repayments. 
Address the challenges: The first and most vital repayment meeting covers group solidarity and how to handle different challenges. Our trainers encourage women to participate in role play activities demonstrating good and bad practices. 
Developing and piloting training programmes has not been without challenge. Modules had to be of guaranteed relevance to clients’ lives, easily understood and actively applied. We went through a rigorous process of researching internal and external training best practices, writing the modules, forming a local training taskforce to provide feedback on the modules, piloting and amending the modules – and carrying out independent evaluations to test the quality of learning. Evaluation showed that those receiving the training are more confident in their abilities to carry out activities like creating a business plan, and that they have improved knowledge of how to calculate their business costs, for example.
It’s important to recognise microfinance’s limitations. It’s not the best solution for the ultra-poor, for example. For those who have not met their immediate needs, such as feeding their family, investing a loan in business is not feasible. In such cases, cash transfers may be more appropriate – small amounts of money given directly to households to help meet basic needs and provide basic training on income-generating activities. This approach can enable families to reach a point at which they are able to take a loan. 
Microfinance organisations must remain very conscious of avoiding risk and protecting clients, and a client training programme plays an important part. Group supportiveness training ensures that when individual clients do face challenges such as illness in the family, the group gives long-term support, like helping the client to run her business while she is in the hospital. Enabling clients to work out their business costs and profits, and linking these to an appropriate loan size, ensures clients understand the loan must be tied to the business’ costs and profits – and that they shouldn’t just take the biggest loan they can. 
Equally, organisations must openly communicate their terms, such as interest rates or repayment frequency. Loan officers must ensure that each client receives the right level of lending for her alone. Training must be provided in the local language, and each client should have her own passbook which clearly lays out what size loan she has taken, what interest she has to pay, how much each repayment is – and how much she should be saving. 
Of course, microfinance is not a silver bullet. It needs to take place in a greater context of commitment to development: access to education, affordable health care, local infrastructure development and access to markets for entrepreneurs. It will not immediately create an influx of medium-sized businesses, but it’s important to view microfinance as the whole package of financial services. Rather than simply focusing on loans, we should talk instead of financial inclusion, whereby poor people have access to reliable, competitively priced services that meet their needs, whether these are savings, loans, insurance products, or remittance services.
The value of these services is seen over the medium to long term, in creating a sustainable pathway that enables women to help themselves. That’s why targeted loans, coupled with tailored training, can help Malawi’s micropreneurs to not only launch an initial venture, but to scale their businesses, creating additional streams of revenue that bring new opportunities and employment to families and entire communities.
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How This Time-Traveling Professor Is Re-Defining Play And Learning

How This Time-Traveling Professor Is Re-Defining Play And Learning | Bottom of the Pyramid |
You know the scene: elementary school students race out of the classroom at the sound of the school bell as the teacher tries to get in one last word.

“I won’t say it’s a Western World syndrome, but definitely there’s a huge number of children who are not very motivated to go to school and learn new topics,” said Bo Stjerne Thomsen, director of Research & Learning at the LEGO Foundation. “And the things they remember anyhow are limited.”

But there are a few schools in Germany where young students are actually ignoring the bell, preferring instead to continue their studies with “Professor S.,” the lead character and protagonist in a “location-based alternate reality game” (still in beta), designed to bring classroom lesson plans to life in any subject throughout the school year, including mathematics, languages, humanities, history, art, science, and even physical education.

Professor S., as the story goes, is a university professor in Berlin who has invented the world’s first functioning time machine. The hook: he’s stuck in the past with his Ph.D. research assistant, Jeanette, and students have a stake in their adventures — they’re tasked with trying to help bring the pair home.

“The moment students start communicating with Professor S., they live inside a story that unfolds,” said lead game designer Jan von Meppen. “Of course they don’t want to stop, because it’s exciting and they’re interested in helping Professor S. return to the present, as absurd as it may sound.”

Empathy is big part of what motivates the dialogue between the children and Professor S., says von Meppen. Student gamers often log-in to the game from home during evenings and ask Professor S. if he and Jeanette are OK — some even ask whether they feel homesick.

“They divulge details about their personal lives to him as well,” said von Meppen. “It’s very human, the whole dialogue — none of it is staged or automatic. It’s very real and, ultimately, it’s children communicating with their teachers on a level that doesn’t normally a happen in a classroom situation.”

That’s because teachers secretly assume the role of Professor S. and have control over how the game is used to complement their instruction — they can use their own material as part of the game, and often do.

There’s an air of mystery in a student’s first introduction to Professor S. The teacher greets the class, as usual, but this time lugging an oversized, black and brown briefcase — the game’s “time portal.” The high-tech time portal opens to reveal a physical keyboard and colored buttons, and features a built-in Android tablet front and center, as well as a special transparent “time capsule,” which contains a blank piece of paper. The students quickly discover that the paper contains a message, written in invisible ink. It’s a cry for help.

Students receive quests from the research duo, Professor S. and Jeanette, through an online messaging system or delivered directly through the time portal. Students are then asked to complete these quests in the real world, oftentimes in a classroom setting — but students are sometimes asked to venture outside the classroom to neighborhood locales like a library. They’re also able to send objects like supplies to the stranded scientists using the time capsule.

In one in-game scenario, primary school students learn that Professor S. and Jeanette have discovered an island inhabited by a “madman” who’s trapped a pod of different types of whales in a secluded bay. The duo decide they must free the whales, but they need the help of students to do it.

Professor S. and Jeanette ask the class to research the whales and their diets, so the scientists can take care of the whales and free them from the clutches of the madman. “What’s special is that you can not only send video, audio, and text messages through it, but you can also send objects ‘through space and time’ by inserting them into the capsule at the back of it,” von Meppen said.

“Professor S. receives them at the other end, and we’ve pre-shot video sequences where we predict what kinds of objects the kids will send through the time portal. The children will see Professor S. receive these little objects in the video. It’s a bit like a magic trick.”

The time portal’s “intelligent hardware” is able to respond to some student interactions directly when a teacher is unavailable, and it occasionally releases additional tasks or side quests.

“We keep track of how quickly individual kids solve problems — the ones that always finish really quickly, the ones that need extra activity, we release these little side quests to them more frequently so they can complete to make the game more interesting to them,” von Meppen said.

But the quests students are asked to embark on with Professor S. aren’t always individualized. Sometimes, tasks are given to groups of children, or even the entire class.

That’s important because, according to Stjerne Thomsen, the most effective classrooms are those that operate as social learning spaces:

“Thinking about schools as maker studios, as places for exploration and tinkering, is extremely critical,” he said. “The explorative part of it, where you come to a place to make things, problem solve, and come up with ideas and collaborate with others — that’s kind of the purpose of the classroom.”

Professor S. is currently operating in seven schools in Germany, with 20 more in line to test the game in their classrooms.

“We’re trying to change education in a positive way, that’s the overarching goal,” von Meppen said. “Basically, we’re trying to achieve that by using storytelling to put learning content into context with the real world.”

And that helps bring out the best in students, he said.
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Scooped by Performances Veille BoP! | Direct-to-Farmer Finance | Direct-to-Farmer Finance | Bottom of the Pyramid |
By Laura Goldman

Sweet potato farmers in rural Tanzania. Photo credit: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
An estimated 90 percent of smallholder farmers lack strong, consistent relationships with buyers – and the access to finance, inputs, agronomic training and other support that typically accompanies those relationships.
The way these smallholders operate – outside a tight value chain, on a relatively small landholding, and with limited commercial activity – makes it difficult for financial providers to reach them. Direct-to-farmer finance is an important pathway through which these farmers can gain access to credit and other financial services that will help them improve their yields and lives. A new briefing from the Initiative for Smallholder Finance explores the over 150 finance providers who offer finance directly to smallholder farmers globally.
These “direct-to-farmer finance providers” range from state and agricultural development banks, to informal financial institutions, and everywhere in between. Through our research, we observed that providers’ specific approaches to direct-to-farmer finance cluster around four business model archetypes: Build & Integrate, Build & Partner, Leverage & Network, and Extend & Mobilize.
Understanding the following four archetypes can help funders, investors and finance providers better align models across smallholder farmer segments and identify opportunities to address scaling challenges:
1. Build & Integrate: These financial providers aim to fill a market gap by serving primarily non-commercial smallholders with little to no access to finance and farming-related services. Field-based staff deliver financial products, typically developed specifically to support smallholders’ agricultural needs, as well as agronomic training and other support services. The hands-on and field-based nature of Build & Integrate providers’ approach helps them build strong relationships with smallholders and a deep understanding of their financial and non-financial needs. However, this approach also translates to a low farmer-to-field officer ratio of approximately 100-200 farmers per field officer – the lowest observed across archetypes. One example of a Build & Integrate financial provider is One Acre Fund, which is serving more than 180,000 farmers across Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.
2. Build & Partner: These financial providers also aim to fill a market gap by serving rural populations, including both non-commercial smallholders and commercial smallholders in loose value chains. Similar to the Build & Integrate model, these providers operate in close proximity to clients, delivering financial products through field-based staff. However, Build & Partner providers typically outsource the development and delivery of agronomic training and other support services through formal partnerships. As providers’ staff operate in the field but are primarily responsible for financial activities only, Build & Partner providers typically have farmer-to-field officer ratios of approximately 300-500 farmers per field officer – higher than those of Build & Integrate providers. Juhudi Kilimo, a non-bank financial institution offering asset financing to Kenyan smallholders, is an example of a Build & Partner financial provider.
3. Leverage & Network: These financial providers use existing infrastructure to broaden their client base by serving commercial smallholders, including some in loose value chains. To do so, providers typically deploy existing capital sources (including revenue, client savings and investment capital) and staff to deliver a full set of financial products to smallholders. Most Leverage & Network providers serve smallholders from branches and seek out informal partnerships with other organizations who that can provide training and other agronomic support to their clients. Given these factors, Leverage & Network providers typically have the highest farmer-to-field officer ratios: more than 1,000 farmers per field officer. Opportunity International and its network of financial institutions offering smallholder finance across seven African countries are examples of Leverage & Network providers.
4. Extend & Mobilize: These financial providers are typically member-run organizations set up to meet the needs of the rural communities in which they operate. Thousands of these providers exist - including Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) – and some have extended their financial product offerings to include agricultural-focused products for non-commercial smallholders. Most Extend & Mobilize providers depend on their existing staff and capital base (typically member savings) to support their agricultural finance activities. Agronomic supporting services are typically member driven and provided more informally on a volunteer basis.
Taking direct-to-farmer finance to the next level
While each business model archetype has strengths and merit, each also faces significant limitations to scale, as our briefing explores in greater detail.
To overcome these challenges and close the enormous gap that persists between demand for and supply of smallholder finance, finance providers will need to share knowledge and blend approaches across business model archetypes. Funders and investors can encourage this activity by supporting knowledge-sharing platforms and activities among providers, and working with individual direct-to-farmer finance providers to experiment with practices more commonly observed in other business model archetypes.
Funders and investors also can support ongoing and future innovation to help providers overcome challenges and scale more quickly. Stay tuned for the forthcoming Direct to Farmer Finance: Innovation Spaces Playbook from the Initiative for Smallholder Finance, which will describe these innovation opportunities in greater detail and suggest compelling new directions in which practitioners could build off of current activity.
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Seeing the future through the eyes of young Africans

Seeing the future through the eyes of young Africans | Bottom of the Pyramid |
It is interesting to reflect on the progress that has been made in Africa over the past 15 years. Where we are today is very different to where we were 15 years ago – at that time, most people would have thought it impossible for Africa to get to where it is today.

Gerald Mahinda
Having traversed the continent working for multinationals over this period, I have had a front row seat to some of the very real change that has occurred. Ten years ago, when I was living in Lagos, not many people believed that the transition to democracy in Nigeria was real, let alone sustainable. Retail options were limited. There was only one supermarket where all the expats shopped; driving around Lagos, it was rare to see a new car. This has all changed. After four elections, there is real confidence in the sustainability of the democratic system and the retail sector has been transformed with the presence of Shoprite, Spar, Game and Valuemart. There are new cars in abundance.
Similarly, Luanda is virtually unrecognisable from even a few years ago. When considering Angola, people often lack the perspective that it is little over 10 years since the decades-long civil war drew to an end. The redevelopment that has happened since then is incredible. Luanda is reminiscent of Dubai about 20 years ago and the city even sports a new, world-class waterfront development.
Having said all that, as I continue to travel across the continent, what does strike me is that younger people do not seem as impressed as my generation with the progress that Africa has made, but rather wonder why the continent is not further ahead than it is.
Clearly, they view Africa from a different perspective than my generation. The perspective of my generation remains tainted by Africa’s history. Hence there is a sense of wonderment at the progress that has been made; 15 years ago this would have seemed impossible to most Africans. At the same time though, because of our history, there does remain a sense of caution, perhaps even doubt.
In contrast to my generation, the younger generation of Africans are more optimistic and ambitious and they do not suffer from the same self-imposed mental limitations. They talk about ‘leapfrogging’ the rest of the world rather than simply ‘catching up’. For us to conceptualise what is possible over the next 15 years, we therefore need to try and see the future through the eyes of a younger generation that are a lot more visionary than ours.
I am not sure exactly what the future of Africa is going to look like, but I do believe that the younger generation will drive fundamental changes. Looking through their eyes, the past 15 years have been transitional and the next 15 years will be transformational. They are going to create a different set of demands, opportunities and enablers. The ‘old politics’ of Africa will simply not work for them.
The new generation will demand governance and accountability and see new systems being used to create a different kind of civil society and a different form of government. In the same way that mobile telephony is transforming communications, transactional relationships, and even social and political dynamics, new technologies are going to force a ‘recalibration’ of commerce and politics in Africa.
In the context of my working life in Africa – 20 odd years with multinationals AIG, Standard Chartered, and now Kellogg’s – I am more convinced than ever that the single biggest constraint to the growth of multinationals like these in Africa is perspective.
Like my generation of Africans, the general perspective is grounded in the history. We need to radically shift this by imagining what could be possible in 15 years’ time, rather than being continually weighted down by where we were 15-20 years ago.
Although it is difficult to visualise this future, I do know that our only constraint – as Africans and as leaders – is a going to be lack of imagination and willingness to think differently.
Gerald Mahinda is managing director for sub-Saharan Africa at Kellogg’s, the global cereals and snacks company. This article was first published in EY’s new Africa 2030: Realizing the possibilities report.
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7 Tips For Being A Successful Social Entrepreneur

7 Tips For Being A Successful Social Entrepreneur | Bottom of the Pyramid |
Video More than ever, people are looking to pursue meaningful career paths. At times our vision of how the world should be is so vivid, we can’t resist the urge to try and build it ourselves. Starting a business has never been easier, but executing on our ideas can make for [...]
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Meet the Boss: Kris Senanu, deputy CEO, AccessKenya

Meet the Boss: Kris Senanu, deputy CEO, AccessKenya | Bottom of the Pyramid |
Insight into business in Africa
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Transformative Wealth from Women, for Women (SSIR)

Transformative Wealth from Women, for Women (SSIR) | Bottom of the Pyramid |
According to a new study commissioned by Women Moving Millions (WMM), today North American women have the capacity to give an estimated $230 billion annually. This figure is approximately equal to all charitable giving from individuals in the United States in 2013, and roughly equal to 3.3 times the overall charitable giving by foundations and corporations in the United States last year. This expansion of giving potential is due to a growth in women’s wealth, both earned and i
Many women philanthropists find themselves overshadowed by their male counterparts, but even this is evolving as more women donors are “leaning in” to their own power. Research shows that women comprise 15 percent of the Million Dollar Gift list, compared to 33 percent for men. This figure understates the role of women in couples’ decision making, which makes up 41 percent of the list (anonymous comprise 11 percent). According to additional research by the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, in 90 percent of wealthy households, women are either the sole decision-maker or at least an equal partner in charitable decision-making. Another study concluded that women-headed households are more generous overall at all income levels.nherited. It is a trend that is forecasted to continue at ever-increasing rates, and presents a tremendous opportunity to transform the lives of women and girls around the world.
The power and influence of women donors is clear, but will we use this power to significantly accelerate positive change for women and girls globally?
The rise of women donors should represent a profound opportunity for organizations that operate with gender-based strategies. Yet, according to The Foundation Center, less than 10 percent of total charitable giving is specifically designated to serve women and girls. There is little indication that this percentage is increasing, despite the plethora of research and rhetoric that supports a more targeted approach. What will it take for women’s giving capacity to meet these needs?
Here we offer an invitation, supported by compelling data, stories of impact, and a how-to-guide:
1. Give big. Women donors need to define their capacity to give, consider their limits, and then stretch beyond it; they must give to the scale of change they want to see in the world. Many women philanthropists I’ve worked with are deeply committed to making large, unrestricted gifts, because they understand that such funding frees their grantees to do the type of strategic and creative thinking needed to achieve lasting change—change that transforms norms and revolutionizes systems. WMM member Barbara Dobkin says about her experiences with unrestricted giving: “For me, donor leadership isn’t about recognition; it’s about partnership, respect, and commitment. ... When donors, including foundations, fund only specific projects, the organizations pad their requests or are left to hustle to keep the lights on, pay the staff, cover insurance, etc.”
2. Be bold. “Being bold” is the willingness to fully activate all of the donor’s resources behind the causes she cares about. Giving of one’s skills, time, and access to networks can leverage and significantly increase the impact of their financial gifts. In addition, women donors must consider putting their name where their money is. Many women philanthropists give anonymously or quietly, because they are uneasy with the spotlight (i.e. “This isn’t about me, it’s about the cause”). However, when they put their names on their contributions, they often inspire other donors to step up to the plate. They also generate great exposure for the organizations they support. Mona Sinha, a New York entrepreneur and philanthropist, says about being bold: “I tap my connections, call attention to issues, and actively fundraise, because I believe that the more we support women through education and leadership training, the better chance we have of leaving behind a restored world. It’s not about recognition; it’s about impact. You can’t inspire others by being quiet.”
3. Apply a gender lens. To apply a gender lens is to deeply examine how culturally entrenched gender norms affect women and men differently, and then take these distinctions into account when identifying both the problems and the solutions. Applying a gender lens is about more effective philanthropy. WMM donor Mary Tidlund’s work with DESEA Peru, an Andean organization providing health care to impoverished communities shows the importance of thinking about gender in development work. Previously only men were trained as health workers, limiting DESEA Peru’s impact significantly. Sandra McGirr, the organization’s vice president explains, “The problem is, men don’t participate in family or community health. It is the women who run the families. They know the details of life in their village. They know who is sick, who is pregnant, who is a victim of abuse.” By training women as health workers, DESEA Peru reached its patients much more efficiently.
4. Collaborate. Collaboration is a superpower among women donors, many of whom want to be a part of a cause-driven community and reflexively see the value of working together. Research shows that when donors collaborate and give together, they tend to give at higher levels, are more strategic with their giving, become more engaged with their communities, and acquire more knowledge about the causes in which they believe. As partners in collective impact initiatives, donors can be pivotal in creating and sustaining the collective process among cross-sector coalition members. WMM takes advantage of these dynamics to further the cause of women and girls. It’s a growing community of more than 200 members whose gifts exceed more than $500 million.
Beyond philanthropy there is also a rise in “Gender Capitalism” to create financial and social impact. This is driven by donors who are investing with a gender lens to increase women’s access to capital, promote workplace equity, and create products and services that improve the lives of women and girls. The rise in women’s wealth has the potential to drive tremendous change in the private sector as well.
Gloria Steinem once said, “Like art, revolutions come from combining what exists into what has never existed before.” Right now, what exists are innovators, many of them women, who are on the ground using gender-based strategies to disrupt the cycles of poverty and violence. What exists are interventions that are delivering results because they empower as change agents. Finally, what exists is compelling evidence that gender-based investing and philanthropy is important to global economic growth and sustainability.
What has never existed before is the incredible capacity of women donors to fund the vision of a more just, equitable, and gender-balanced world. When these powerful forces are finally brought together, I have no doubt that positive, long-lasting change is just on the horizon.
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Impact Genome Project : les « big data » au service de la mesure d’impact social

Impact Genome Project : les « big data » au service de la mesure d’impact social | Bottom of the Pyramid |
d’impact social
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Why 100m Nigerians could soon have a MasterCard in their wallets

Why 100m Nigerians could soon have a MasterCard in their wallets | Bottom of the Pyramid |
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Scooped by Performances Veille BoP! | Financial Capability isn't Built in a Day | Financial Capability isn't Built in a Day | Bottom of the Pyramid |
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Our manifesto begins, “it starts by standing with the poor.” Yet for good reasons, the sector has found it challenging to measure which customers are actually being served through social impact investments – getting accurate data on incomes is notoriously difficult and the logistical challenge and cost of conducting surveys in person prohibitive. This year, …
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Kenyan entrepreneur proof that women can take the lead in a man’s world

Kenyan entrepreneur proof that women can take the lead in a man’s world | Bottom of the Pyramid |
Insight into business in Africa
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