As I flip through TV channels and newspapers, all I see are massive advertisement campaigns of malls, stores and websites opening at midnight of the beloved American shopping tradition of "Black Friday" While many could see this as the sporting event of the year for the shopaholic greed machine--others are asking questions on how far commercialism in the United States is driving change in the way companies are setting precedents for business practices.
Private Sector Development
When most people think of tourism, they think about a vacation to a new destination, an island retreat, a beautiful vineyard, or a hike in the mountains. They rarely think of tourism as a source of inclusive poverty reduction in the developing world.
Nkwichi Lodge in Mozambique is a good example. Investments to the projects created 75 jobs for locals supporting over 1,000 community members. It also established a community trust that built five local schools, a maternity clinic and a maize mill that provided nutrition and education to more than 350 farmers and their families. This is having a transformative impact on poverty reduction and improvements in the quality of life of some of the worlds poorest.
I pay through the nose for health insurance for my family, and I’m not happy about it. As a U.S. citizen, I don’t have the luxury of government-backed healthcare. Since I’m technically self-employed, I have to pay the full premium myself. Want some figures? It costs me $830 a month for a family of four, with a high deductible. Besides being expensive, it takes a huge effort to deal with insurance issues, and I find that my provider is expert at finding reasons not to reimburse me for medical expenses. This is chewing a gaping hole in my budget. The only way I’ll ever get value for my money is if I’m hit by a bus.
Firms maximize their profits by developing strategy with targets, tracking progress, and using incentives to drive achievement. Without the natural feedback of the market, how can we use this approach to drive toward results for the poor?
One of us works for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – an old school Bretton Woods institution with years of experience building systems to track results across countries. The other one of us works for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an entrepreneurial organization that is much newer on the block, without some of the systems that come with fifty years of development work but also without the preconceptions. We come to the table with a desire to learn from each other’s experience. We hope this first blog will pique input from colleagues around the world, similarly passionate about the power of data to improve our business.
India’s economic growth rate in the past decade has been nothing short of spectacular. With its GDP growth around 7 to 9 percent per year, India is the second-fastest-growing large economy in the world. However, the country’s manufacturing sector accounts for a dismal 17 percent of its employment opportunities, as compared to 60 percent in agriculture and 23 percent in services.This summer, the World Bank’s Indian Visiting Scholars Program* invited two leading academics from Harvard University to visit India and to articulate potential pathways to sustain the country’s growth trajectory. These 2 scholars are Ricardo Hausmann, Professor of Economic Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Director of Harvard’s Center of International Development and Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy at the Kennedy School. While there, they interacted with the private sector and key policymakers, including senior officials of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, the Planning Commission, and the Ministry of Finance.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of swimming in a big, heated pool. Outdoors. In winter. It sounds like an unaffordable luxury, and in most places, it is. But in Iceland, you can swim all year round in geothermal swimming pools. Iceland sits on the boundary of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, which are slowly pulling apart, giving it extraordinary geothermal resources. Besides year-round outdoor swimming, this renewable resource provides heat, hot water, and electricity.
1. Only 15 percent of Nigerian entrepreneurs are women --- one of the lowest shares in all Sub-Saharan Africa
2. Almost 70 percent of firms in Akwa Ibom train their employees while just one percent of firms in Zamfara do so. And workers that receive training earn up to a quarter more than non-trained workers.
3. Female entrepreneurs need credit more than men, but they are less likely to apply for and less likely to obtain a loan.
A lot of work has been done on understanding the impact of human capital or the level of education on economic development (see for example, Barro 1991 and Benhabib and Spiegel 1994). That human capital is important for economic development, at least potentially so, seems fairly non-controversial and obvious. But is it really so?
In 2009, there were over 65,000 Chinese for each of the 20,398 residents of Palau. As of now, there are 20 countries with a population of less than 100,000 and 11 countries with a population over 100 million. As these numbers suggest, differences in country size or population are indeed large and breathtaking. Ever wondered if these differences really matter?
Brazil is one of the hottest destinations in the world today for inbound foreign direct investment (FDI). Many multinational companies are seeking to enter with new or expand existing FDI projects due to Brazil’s market size, growing middle class and the fact that it will host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. In fact, according to UNCTAD’s Global Investment Trends Monitor it was the 10th largest recipient of FDI in 2010 with over $30 billion in new inbound FDI projects up from the 13th slot and $22 billion in new inbound FDI a decade ago.