Scott Anderson

Green Shoots: The Best of March on NextBillion

In March – at least in this hemisphere – our thoughts turned to spring’s green shoots and starting anew. Though we didn’t necessarily plan it this way, several NextBillion articles examined the challenges faced by farmers, value chains and the role of large agri-business.

Our most-read post in March delved deeply into the role of microfinance in specific agricultural commodities and regions in Bolivia. The traditionally high-risk form of investment is buttressed by innovations in farmer cooperatives, evolving fair trade practices and steadily improving value chains. Quinoa, Dairy, Coffee: Value Chains and Rural Microcredit in Bolivia by Thomas Tichar examined three villages and three critical commodities financed by Sembrar Sartawi (SS). “The notion of rural clients and monoculture being too-high a risk, thus does not by definition apply in the context of a robust value chain, a fact that microfinance agencies like SS are eager to support,” Thomas writes.

The other most-read posts last month included:

Open Feed: Updates, Reactions to Dismissal of Muhammad Yunus at Grameen by NextBillion. We did our best to live blog the then-breaking news that microfinance pioneer Yunus had been fired from Grameen Bank after months of charges and counter charges. As the days passed, the Yunus story had several twists and turns, but the result was the same when his appeal was ultimately denied.

Small Business Might Be Big Business for Mobile Money by Jake Kendall. Jake observed that business owners and entrepreneurs are getting in on the action of mobile money in a major way. He highlights two important research reports that illustrate the potential mobile money has for increasing efficiency and lowering costs for MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises).

Coffee Economics 101 and Nestlé’s $500+ Million Bet by Martin Herrndorf, who provided short introduction into coffee economics, the promises of fair-trade and organic practices, and the $500-plus million direct purchasing bet by the Swiss food giant Nestlé. As I slurp by morning cup, this post challenged my notions of fair trade, and the role of multinationals in coffee production and pricing.

Guest Post: What Aid Agencies Can Do to Boost Social Enterprise by Mark Hand. Mark points out that aid agencies have the capacity to nurture our growing field into a powerful set of new partners. But “if not handled with care, the growing interest in social enterprise may overwhelm a fragile, nascent network still finding its voice.” He suggests five ways aid agencies can constructively engage social enterprises. This post was shared courtesey of Devex.

A Note On Our Jobs Listings

As you may have already observed, we decided to move Job Listings to a section on our homepage, instead of publishing them between and among the most recent blogs. You can now find the most recent jobs on the lower right side of the homepage, just below our Newsroom. We did this because we wanted to direct job seekers to a regular location to quickly check the latest opportunities, with a link to all jobs listed in the Career Center. We hope you like the change. As always, we welcome your feedback.

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