Answer: Cyprus, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Sweden and Britain. They all have over 70 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) per 1,000 people. Behind the bald statistics lie millions of stories of lives changed and jobs created. Last month I was in Bosnia and met a woman who had started by stitching clothes for her neighbours and now employs 4 people in a thriving retail and tailoring enterprise. The light was in her eyes as she described her plans and how her children would one day take over the business.
St Helena, which is a British dependency, has dependencies of its own - one of which is Tristan da Cunha. Tristan is relatively rich thanks to a lucrative lobster industry. Why not St Helena too? Well, there was a St Helena lobster development project, about 20 years ago. Courtesy of a British government development aid project, a boat was sent out, with equipment and a trainer to teach the local fisherman how to catch lobster. Within a few months the "industry" had blossomed and then died. The lobsters had been fished out.
Frustrated that over two decades of research have failed to produce an AIDS vaccine, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates is tying his foundation's latest, biggest AIDS-vaccine grants to a radical concept: Those who get the money must first agree to share the results of their work in short order.
Sebastian Mallaby (of “The World’s Banker" fame) suggests that today’s big corporate players are tackling pressing global challenges without waiting for government to take a lead. In Monday’s op-ed “A New Brand of Power” in the Washington Post, Mallaby suggests that firms are driven by the need to protect their brands, prompting action in response to public concerns from everything from junk food to climate change.
Banks from London and New York are not the only players getting into developing country banking markets. A little-known fact is that banks from 48 developing countries have already invested in the banking sector of other developing countries. Good news, because these banks are well-suited to offer inclusive financial services to the poor.
It has been one year since the PSD Blog's official launch. We can't believe it either, or that almost 1,000 of you subscribe to our RSS feed. Thanks to all of our readers and to our fellow bloggers for making the development blogosphere such a vibrant place!
I’m out of practice blogging these days, but couldn’t help but notice the Financial Times line from a short while back on efforts to expand the remit of the aid industry:
While development is a grand and multi-faceted affair, aid cannot afford to be. Modesty, focus and a willingness to make mistakes in public are assets. Simple projects have worked wonders: benchmarking exercises of red tape that have shamed politicians into action, or randomised controlled trials to show what really improves attendance and results in schools.
Anyone who follows the development debate should check out Alan Beattie’s masterly review essay – unusually for the FT, no subscription seems to be required. He begins with a cornucopia of possibilities:
On Tuesday the World Bank quietly announced a bold program to combat corruption on its own projects.