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Innovation Promotes Good Governance in Albania

As Albania prepares to celebrate 100 years of independence in 2012 with an eye towards becoming a member of the European Union; it must make crucial improvements in a sensitive area: good governance.

For better governance, citizens need more access to information; budgets and local taxes need to be transparent. Women and youth need equal opportunities in business, and agriculture policies need to be developed openly.

To address these, the government is drafting and implementing new policies for central and local government, with support from the World Bank Project for Good Governance in Albania. The World Bank is further supporting the government's agenda through support for civil society projects using the Development Marketplace competition platform to solicit and select high impact projects for implementation. The British Council is overseeing their implementation.

Three Kids in a Garage

Aleem Walji's picture

Last week, Aleem Walji participated in GE’s global conference, ‘Disrupt or Be Disrupted’. He has written an entry that is being featured in The World Bank's "Let's Talk Development" blog. Below is an excerpt:

Photo credit: Let's talk Development BlogHow do you ‘disrupt’ your business from the core by building on your strengths and leveraging your assets? Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO talked about the fear of losing too many engineers and scientists who don’t ‘fit corporate culture’ but proceed to found billion dollar businesses (Sergei Brin started at GE). It reminded me of a session at the Indian School of Business led by a senior Google Executive where he said that it’s not Microsoft, Facebook, or Twitter that keeps him up at night, it’s ‘three kids in a garage’. Hewlett Packard, Apple, Google, and Groupon, all started small, learned fast from failure, took risks nobody was willing to take, and then fundamentally disrupted business models and industries.

For the full blog entry, click here.

Follow Aleem Walji on Twitter!

What Does Innovation Look Like?

Aleem Walji's picture

Having traveled to both East Africa and India over the past several weeks, I’ve been reflecting on what ‘innovation’ means in different contexts. It’s easy to get caught in a technology-centric worldview in places like Bangalore and even Nairobi these days. But when I get past the superficial stories and dig a bit deeper, I realize that impactful innovation is less about shiny tools and technology and more about ‘listening to users’ and transforming social processes to solve problems that matter to people.

My walk through a Delhi slum comes immediately to mind. While there I visited Operation Asha, a 2011 India Development Marketplace winner that is working to arrest the spread of tuberculosis (TB). India is one of the only countries in the world where the rate of infection is growing despite the falling incidence of the disease globally. The previous day, I sat with colleagues from Microsoft Research in Bangalore who explained the simple but critical advances they had made in writing open-source software to verify the identity of patients visiting clinics, aggregating data on missed doses, and using text messages to increase compliance.

Unconventional Development – Supporting Home Grown Genius

Aleem Walji's picture

Villgro, one of the largest incubators and funders of social enterprises in India, is hosting its annual Unconvention from December 1-3. Unlike other platforms, this event attracts people at the intersection of innovation and social enterprise with a clear focus on social impact and generating replicable models. I will be presenting at a panel discussion on December 3rd called Mainstreaming Your Social Business.

At the World Bank, we realize that public goods cannot be provided exclusively by governments acting alone. Private actors have a clear role to play and not just commercial enterprises. In India as elsewhere, we’re seeing the emergence of enterprises that combine the passion of NGO’s with the efficiency of business to address government and market failures. This is an extremely exciting possibility for the Bank and for our client Governments to consider. How do we encourage these actors to complement the State and how do we harness innovations around public goods to better serve the poor? The Development Marketplace is but one of many programs we support to surface, support, and diffuse innovation. The role of the Bank’s Innovation Practice is to pay attention to what’s going on around us and use the convening power and resources of the Bank to shine a light on innovations in development and scale-up what works.  

Follow me @AlWalji. I’ll be posting on #devmarket, #Innovation,  #alchemix throughout the event.

From more on the Unconvention read the interview of Sucharita Kamath at Vilgro as she describes how the Unconvention will convene different players in the social enterprise ecosystem in India to achieve broad-based social impact.

This article was originally published on NextBillion is a website and blog bringing together a community in the shared mission of development through enterprise.

Unconvention 2011 Hones in on Landing Top Socent Talent

Since its launch in 2011, Villgro has identified and assisted approximately 2,000 social innovators and positively impacted the lives of more than 360,000 people living in rural India. The organization's strength lies in finding innovators and entrepreneurs, providing skill, development and critical access to networks and other resources necessary to take their innovations to the marketplace. Critical to its continued success is the ability to connect with more homegrown geniuses just waiting to be discovered in every corner of India.

Solar Bottle Lights: Transforming Plastic Bottle Waste to Light Bulbs

Myra Valenzuela's picture

Source of photo:’s surprising how simple the design of a solar bottle light is – take an empty plastic bottle, fill it with mineral water and a few drops of bleach, and cement it halfway through a small metal roof sheet (the kind used as roofs in Manila’s slum areas). Then cut out a small piece of the actual roof, place the sheet with the bottle on top of the hole, cement any cracks, and voilà! Let there be light.

This initiative, a project designed and developed by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and implemented by MyShelter Foundation, is already transforming lives of low-income people in the Philippines.

The “Missing Middle” and the Growth of Social Enterprises

Aleem Walji's picture

SOCAP (via fall at Social Capital Markets (SOCAP), the who’s who of impact investing and social enterprise convene in San Francisco to network and share stories about topics like market-based solutions to poverty, social stock exchanges, and just how much capital is waiting to be deployed to solve the world’s toughest problems. It’s inspiring to be sure, especially the growth in the number and diversity of participation. It’s no longer the sole domain of Ashoka, Skoll, and Schwab who have paved the way for so many others. Today, mainstream Banks from Europe to Asia, fund managers, and wealth advisors are sending a signal that doing good and doing well is a more enlightened form of capitalism.

But behind all the feel-good energy and promises that impact investing will be a $50 billion industry by 2020, there are gaps in the story line and challenges that we must confront as a community. First, there is no clear definition of an impact investor. The industry brings together those who are primarily driven by a financial bottom line (finance first) with those who are seeking to optimize a social return without making a loss (impact first), and finally grant makers who are aiming to improve the efficiency of philanthropic capital (largely foundations). Their world views are different, their expected returns are different, and how they use the same vocabulary (e.g. impact, viability, and sustainability) varies widely.

Blogging from the field: Kadogo and Oyugis, Yogurt Results from Kenya

Karen Vega's picture

Hi I am Karen Vega, and am responsible for oversight and monitoring for the Development Marketplace project portfolio. I am on mission visiting projects in Tanzania, Kenya and Burkina Faso. I am currently in Kenya visiting the Pro-biotic Yogurt project implemented by The Ministry of Health of Kenya in partnership with its research institute KEMRI and the University of Western Ontario.

The objective of this project is to establish a sustainable grass-roots food based development initiative for the purpose of improving the health and nutrition levels among vulnerable social groups in Oyugis-Rachuonyo district. The innovative character of the project is connecting the appropriate technology, training and local resources (dairy) to produce a community based intervention program. When pro-biotics are consumed in adequate amounts Canadian and Nigerian studies have shown pro-biotics to be effective in treating uro-genital infections and diarrheal disease including people living with HIV/AIDS!

Disseminating Innovations in the Health Market

Maria Belenky's picture

How do you provide health care for the rural poor when medical professionals are scarce or unaffordable?

One emerging solution is to computerize medical knowledge. In 2007, Arogya Ghar captured the attention of the global health community when it was selected as one of the winners of the Development Marketplace global competition.

Development 2.0 Brought to You by Social Entrepreneurs

Parvathi Menon's picture

We traveled an hour outside of Jaipur to Laporiya village, in the Jaipur District. One of the 41353 villages across 32 Districts of Rajasthan that depends largely on agriculture and dairy for sustenance.

The total cultivated area of the state encompasses about 20 million hectares and out of this only 20% of the land is irrigated. Ground water level is available only at a depth of 30 to 61m. Yet with minimum inputs, the agricultural sector of the state accounts for 22.5 per cent of the State economy.

How DM Project in India Filled Empty Water Pots

BP Agrawal's picture

BP Agrawal is a double Development Marketplace winner.  He won in 2006 with his Sustainable Rainwater Harvesting project and in 2007 with Walk-In Clinic for the Masses. This is being reposted on the occasion of Blog Action Day 2010.

Visit Sardarpura, a sleepy Indian village 150 km (93 miles) southwest of New Delhi.  Women have gathered at the village square. They are tapping empty matkas (earthen water pots) to produce melodious beats. One is humming the “lament of bride": "Dhola thare desh men, moti marvan aant.  Daroo milti mokali, paani ki koni chhant."

Oh, Beloved!
In your land
Not a drop of water 
Brides have to fetch water from miles
It is hard to survive but for your love
Thus laments a bride.

 Sudden commotion drowns the melody. Children start running in the dusty streets and yelling “Pani Aagayaa. Paani Aagayaa” (Water has come! Water has come!). Women wrapped in vibrant colors rush with their matkas resting on their waists. The water tanker had just arrived — after two weeks.
That is the perennial scarcity of drinking water in rural India!