Today in Brussels, McDonalds Europe launched a new program that could bring tremendous labor flexibility to its 225,000 European employees. The McPassport (I'm not making this up) makes its easier for employees to move to another of the roughly 6,000 McDonalds locations in Europe. The document contains detailed information on the employee - such as positions held, dates and salary history - although he or she will still go through an interview before hiring.
East Asia and Pacific
The New York Times reported last week that the G8 would be discussing advance market commitments for vaccines. The meeting in Rome has come and gone, but I haven't been able to find any evidence that they came up with anything. A shame, as an ounce of prevention may be worth much more than a pound of cure.
The consultancy Celent predicts that the microfinance market will grow from $11 billion now to $20 billion in 2008. The study finds that commercial banks are best equipped to extend microfinance.
Several aid agencies and government efforts tried (and largely failed) to upgrade the fishing industry in Uganda. That is, until the European Union cut off all Ugandan fish imports in 1997 due to failings in sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS). The Ugandan fishing industry has modernized and now meets the EU's demanding standards. Exports rose to $88 million in 2002, from $39 million before the EU ban.
Recent reporting suggests that corporate environmental and social issues are increasingly debated in China. Government officials are showing growing interest in CSR, including initiatives by the State Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Commerce. National CSR organizations are appearing with government support, such as the Chinese Enterprise Social Responsibility Research Institute. This in part reflects growing pressures resulting from fast growth.
Easterly's been busy. He's also contributed a chapter to the Center for Global Development's new book, Rescuing the World Bank. The book is an engaging read, with a number of essays from different observers on how the World Bank can better meet its core mission of poverty alleviation. Easterly writes that the World Bank needs to improve accountability for results, and also that it suffers from mission creep.
Has Doing Business whet your appetite for country rankings? Yesterday Cato and the Fraser Institute released the 10th annual Economic Freedom of the World report. They found that economic freedom has a greater impact than foreign aid in helping people in poor nations escape poverty. William Easterly contributed a chapter to the report in which he uses the economic freedom data to test for the impact of economic freedom and aid on growth.
The day after I arrived in Banda Aceh, my colleague Bido and I took off for Lhokseumawe, a small city about 5 hours' drive away along a narrow, winding road. There I addressed a group of 50 young entrepreneurs who are participating in a business plan competition. Bido is the driving force behind our work with entrepreneurs and small businesses. He's great company and introduced me to roadside diners, where I sampled the spicy, local cuisine.
Regular readers of Shaela's posts from Banda Aceh will be glad to know that our new blogger, David Lawrence, will pick up the thread and share his experiences as Aceh's transformation continues. David has just begun a two-year assignment as the IFC Program Coordinator for the Private Enterprise Partnership for Aceh & Nias.
In the fourth annual Doing Business report released Wednesday, Singapore edged New Zealand out for top honors. Reform is the theme this year, with examples of how the reform process works and how much it costs - from both the political economy and technical perspectives. The office is buzzing with excitement about the report launch, so if you'll indulge me in a bit of PR, here are a few highlights from the report: