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Information technologies for development: a quick round-up

What a difference a month can make! Only a few weeks ago I was dreaming about the establishment of a decision market for development projects. As if to provide comfort to my employer that I was not hallucinating, Globalgiving have now launched a pilot online decision market "to help identify promising ideas and interventions in the arena of international development."

Lack of standards hurts Islamic finance

The $500 billion Islamic finance sector is large enough to attract serious attention from the UK government, which recently made changes to its tax law to enable Muslims who object to the payment or receipt of interest to access Islamic personal financial services such as mortgages and savings accounts.

Money: best when left to women

Although conditional cash transfer programs have shown positive effects in many areas, including school enrollment and child health, households' compliance with program conditions is costly for both the households and the programs, which have to monitor their compliance.

Vulture funds

BlackvulturesmAre investment firms buying out poor countries' debt at a discount, hoping to sue, harass or shame debtors into paying, simply rapacious and predatory? Or, like the birds of prey, they play an important part in maintaining the health of the international financial system?

Moving forward with land reform

During a three-year period, over 20 million plots in Ethiopia, covering the majority of rural lands, received land certificates. The benefits included an increase in bargaining power for women, stronger incentives for investment and more efficient transfer of land through decentralization of rental and sale transactions.

Women doing business

When Huda Janahi first applied for a business license in Bahrain, she was turned down. Not because she didn't have the right paperwork, nor because she didn't go through the required procedures, but because a woman had never previously applied. Not to be deterred, Huda registered as a family owned business and got on with the business of making money. She later re-applied successfully in her own name. Now her business, Global Freight & Passenger Services is a multimillion dollar company.