January 3

James Militzer

Announcing NextBillion’s Most Influential Articles of 2021

As an open forum for emerging markets business, NextBillion publishes around 150 original, guest-written articles each year, covering enterprises, innovations, challenges and opportunities across multiple sectors and geographies. At the end of each year, we select our 12 most-read articles from the previous 12 months, and invite readers to vote for the pieces that impacted them the most.

We’ve counted the votes, and we’re happy to announce our three most influential articles of 2021.


First Place (28% of the Vote)

The Wild West of ESG Reporting: A New Report Finds a Disturbing Lack of Standards and Transparency

Inconsistently reported and unaudited data is an issue of growing urgency in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing, making it nearly impossible to compare ESG data across companies. David A. Fuscus of Xenophon Strategies, Inc. shares the results of a recent survey on corporate reporting, and discusses how increased transparency and standardization could help investors and entrepreneurs better gauge a company’s actual progress toward greater sustainability and impact.


Second Place (26% of the Vote)

Below the Tip of the Iceberg: Why Systems Change is the Key to Scaling Innovations and Solving Development Challenges

The development sector has a growing awareness of how underlying systemic causes are perpetuating many global challenges. María Boa-Alvarado at CIMMYT, Lennart Woltering at One CGIAR and Marcos Sanjuán at CRS-El Salvador explore the benefits of a systems change approach, as applied to the issue of land degradation in Central America. They discuss how their organizations are using a systems thinking tool, the iceberg model, to better understand the root causes of this problem – and to provide lasting solutions.


Third Place (12% of the Vote)

10 Key Lessons for Solar Enterprises: Insights From SELCO’s 26 Years Doing Business in India

To commemorate the 26th anniversary of SELCO, a pioneering off-grid solar company based in India, Christine Eibs Singer at Sustainable Energy for All and Richenda Van Leeuwen at ANDE, both former board members at SELCO, share 10 lessons from the company’s decades of experience in the sector – insights which may be helpful to other impact investors and social entrepreneurs working in off-grid energy.


We’d like to congratulate the winners and all the contestants in this contest – your articles had a well-deserved impact, and we’re proud to host them on our platform. We’d also like to thank everyone who took the time to vote – along with everyone else who read and wrote for NextBillion last year. We wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2022.


James Militzer is the editor of NextBillion.




Energy, Environment, Impact Assessment, Investing
data, energy access, ESG, impact measurement