Rob Katz

Friday Roundup: Seen, Heard, Read Edition

See Hear SpeakIt’s been a busy week here at NextBillion–we’re finishing the manuscript on a soon-to-be-published book detailing market size and business strategy at the base of the pyramid. Meanwhile, we’ve had to keep track of all the comings and goings at the World Economic Forum, in and around Washington, and all over the blogosphere. Here’s a quick roundup, for your weekend reading and reviewing pleasure. Of course, we’ve missed quite a bit–so please be liberal in your use of the comment field (below) and the suggest a story function to keep us updated on what you’re seeing, hearing, and reading.

Last night in downtown Washington saw the second monthly meeting of the DC International Private Enterprise Group. Oxfam was kind enough to host the 25 or so folks who braved snow showers in order to join the discussion. IPEG members heard from Agora’s Ben Powell and New Ventures’ Sara Standish (also a NextBillion contributor). Ben and Sara discussed their work in the field of venture capital and its connection to development; the discussion then branched off into microfinance, commercial finance, small enterprise development, and more. After an hour, we retreated to the nearby Post Pub for more conversations over beers and food. These IPEG meetings will be a regular occurrence; if interested, please contact us for more information.Worldchanger Jonathan Greenblatt ably reported from the Social Entrepreneurs Summit; also attending were Iqbal Quadir (Grameen Phone, MIT’s Poverty Action Lab) and Phil Auerswald (George Mason University). Quadir and Auerswald make some waves in today’s Financial Times with a letter to the editor that emphasizes the practical power of social entrepreneurship. I’m delighted to see that they also explicitly encourage for-profit ventures to be included under the banner of ’’social entrepreneurship’’.

Another Worldchanger, Ethan Zuckerman, points me to the Harvard Business Review’s list of Breakthrough Ideas for 2007. The list includes interesting takes on Entrepreneurial Japan; Act Globally, Think Locally; and User-Centered Innovation. Not as BOP-focused, but another worthy read is David Weinberger’s take on Accountabalism. What I like most about this list–the individual pieces are tight and well-written, making for an excellent over-coffee read to start your Saturday (hint).

The Acumen Fund has developed a methodology to evaluate their investments. The BACO (Best Available Charitable Option) is currently a concept paper; I haven’t had the time to read it, but will make an attempt to do so next week. In the meantime, download the PDF. As Acumen themselves describe it, the BACO methodology tries to understand the social impact and cost-effectiveness of our investment, as compared to other charitable options that address the same issue. It continues to be a work in progress and is not without its limitations, but it does provide a framework for how we think about delivering critical goods and services in health, housing and water to the poor. Worth a look.