Rob Katz

Link Drop: News, Reviews, Events, and More

Pile of workIn the interest of time and efficiency, I am going to do an all-purpose link drop today. Some of the topics mentioned below will be fleshed out as blog posts; others will be added to the Activity Database, Events Calendar, or Newsroom. Keep an eye on this space as I try to dig out from under a ever-growing pile of work (I’m sure you can all relate…)


  • NextBillion reader Masood Aziz points to an editorial in last week’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required), where Bhide and Schramm compare the recent Nobel speeches delivered by Edmund Phelps (Economics) and Mohammad Yunus (Peace). The authors’ main point: Mr. Yunus’s ameliorative entrepreneurship however is very different from the transformative entrepreneurship that Mr. Phelps argues has been central to modern capitalism. Indeed, most of the ventures funded by microloans in Bangladesh are activities that were marginalized by modern entrepreneurs: They don’t involve any economies of scale or scope or the use of new technologies capable of producing significant advances in overall productivity and incomes. It is a controversial piece that deserves a thorough read. Other bloggers are weighing in on this as well.
  • The Overseas Private Investment Corporation has approved $100 million for a private equity investment fund that will support the growth of affordable housing in Latin America.
  • A George Mason University professor has won $1 million for developing a low-cost filter that removes arsenic from drinking water. The filters are being produced in his native Bangladesh for just $40 each; more than 30,000 have already been distributed.


  • I traveled to Boston this past weekend to attend the opening session of StartingBloc, a social innovation competition. My business plan team is working on an environmental innovation; I’ll keep you posted as we progress. For more on StartingBloc, take a trip down memory lane with Sara Standish’s posts.
  • This morning, I attended a fascinating talk at the World Bank, where CGAP Technology Program staff gave a presentation entitled, “The Cellphone and the Mattress.” Gautam Ivatury, who heads up CGAP’s technology program, narrated a PowerPoint which bowled over the audience. It is very clear that mobile phone banking (m-banking) is the next big thing, but that there are significant regulatory, financial, and cultural barriers to overcome. I especially like that CGAP remains very realistic and measured about the potential of m-banking – it’s easy to go over the top, and they resist the temptation. An online video of the talk will soon be available – well worth your time.