The Partnership Nightmare: What’s Wrong with the Social Sector’s Approach to Funding – And How to Fix It
Whether it's due to misaligned expectations, mutual distrust or power imbalances, interactions between social impact organizations and their funders can be nightmarish – for both sides. Social sector advocates Jessamyn Shams-Lau, Jane Leu and Vu Le have written a new book about these challenges, called "Unicorns Unite." In this Q&A, they discuss what's gone wrong – and how to make it better. Subscribers to NextBillion’s weekly e-newsletter can read an excerpt of the book throughout June.
In April, the mini-grid industry got its first-ever trade association, as the Africa Mini-grid Developers Association (AMDA) launched with chapters in Kenya and Tanzania – and ambitious goals for expansion across the continent. Though AMDA's membership currently includes about a dozen companies providing 11,000 connections, it aspires to represent 90 percent of the mini-grid sector by the end of 2021. In a Q&A with Scott Anderson, AMDA co-founder Jessica Stephens discusses its plans to transform the mini-grid industry from a feel-good alternative to a power player in the energy sector.
We don’t typically associate NGOs, particularly humanitarian organizations like Mercy Corps, with impact investing. But since 2015, Mercy Corps has run the Social Venture Fund, which invests in and accelerates the growth of innovative, scalable ventures that can positively impact millions in the developing world. NextBillion interviewed Scott Onder, managing director of the fund, about Mercy Corps' experiences as an investor, the rationale behind this ground-breaking approach – and lessons for other NGOs that may be considering a similar move.
Data can have a transformative impact on financial inclusion efforts. But it will reach its full potential only if industry stakeholders can truly understand and utilize it for the benefit of customers. In this Q&A, Camilla Nestor, CEO of MIX, discusses how MIX's FINClusion Lab is making data available to financial services providers, regulators, policymakers and others in a format they can actually use.
Getting Real About Innovation: Why Accion’s U.S. Network Made the Leap to Digitize its Lending Operations
Technology can boost small businesses' access to finance, but can also risk trapping them in a cycle of debt. And for lenders serving lower-income entrepreneurs, these risks and rewards are more acute. Gina Harman, CEO of Accion’s U.S. Network, discusses its ambitious efforts to digitize lending operations across its national online platform in this podcast Q&A, exploring how established organizations can adapt to emerging technologies – without compromising their missions.