Scott Anderson

Gold Stars: The Best of November on NextBillion

The ancient proverb, “you never step in the same river twice” also applies to blogs like NextBillion, where our content tends to flow fast and furious. In an attempt to highlight some great posts before they are washed downstream, I’d like pause at the beginning of each month to call out best of NextBillion for the previous month.

Co-Managing Editor Francisco Noguera has done a great job reminding us of the week’s content as well as unearthing topical and timely archival NextBillion posts in his Friday roundups. Fortunately, NextBillion has the good fortune of quality and quantity when it comes to our posts, so I’m going to limit this shout out to the top five posts of the month by readership. I know this isn’t an exact science. For instance, posts that are published later in the month might get fewer views than ones from earlier in the month. But it usually follows that the most popular posts, by enlarge, attract the most readers because they’re also among the most interesting.

That’s certainly the case for this month’s most-read post: CSR That Works: Interview with Hindustan Unilever’s former Chairman and MD, Vindi Banga, by Nilima Achwal. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a subject that deserves close inspection to determine if the project is merely good PR or an impactful BoP business concern. And that’s exactly what Nilima did in this in-depth Q&A with Banga. This also is a good opportunity to formally recognize Nilima, who in addition to Keven Keepper, recently signed on as an Editor at NextBillion. As a Research Associate at the William Davidson Institute, Nilima conducts primary and secondary research, and writes case studies related to business in emerging global economies. She also served as a Kiva Fellow at a Bolivian microfinance institution. Nilima has been organizing the NextBillion Case Competition, which has attracted 33 entries from around the world.

The top four most-read blog posts this month include:

3 Reasons Why “Unreasonable is the New Reasonable” Francisco’s Q&A with Teju Ravilochan, one of the co-founders of the Unreasonable Institute, which is receiving applications for the second version of the program until December 15.

Net Impact in Review: The Growing Imperative of Cross-Sector Collaboration Lisa Smith, also a Research Assistant at the WDI, provided this rundown on several sessions from Net Impact 2010, her first post for NextBillion. Lisa is part of the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Initiative team, which addresses the intersection of business strategy and poverty alleviation. Recently, she accepted a position as a program manager at the University of Michigan’s Center for Health Communications Research (CHCR) where she’ll be overseeing NIH and CDC grants, but will continue to assist on other WDI BoP-related projects.

Passing the Entrepreneurship Test Another first-time NextBillion wirter, DJ DiDonna, is Director of the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab’s (EFL) Business Development and Operations, and is based in Kenya. DJ’s post explained EFL’s assessment tool for SMEs, which measures an entrepreneur’s fundamental intellectual and psychological characteristics and has several financial institutions that serve the BoP more than a little interested. He plans to keep NextBillion readers in the loop as EFL expands to other countries and markets.

Local Capacity Building and Business Development at the Base of the Pyramid New NextBillion Editor Kevin Keepper, Development and Communications Coordinator at TechnoServe, took the term “capacity building” out of the buzzword realm. In this interview with Simon Winter, TechnoServe’s Senior Vice President of Development, Kevin helped us understand what’s needed from NGOs, SMEs and outside investors to truly grow capacity building.

All of these posts deserve a gold star, but more importantly, a second read.