Hot Gadgets and Hot Money are Not Cool for the Poor

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A surge in global interest in helping the poor in new ways is creating new problems for the social sector: a mismatch between the technology and capital coming from developed countries and the front-line organizations’ ability to use it.

Those trying to improve the lives of the billions of people that live on less than $2 a day – whether through consumer products, government or charity – are working together in unprecedented new ways.

Last week’s Tech4Society Conference in Hyderabad was full of smart people from around the globe gushing about a new world-wide interest in the opportunities to do good and make money at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

The conference at Indian School of Business brought together more than 200 innovators and entrepreneurs connected to Ashoka and The Lemelson Foundation, two organizations that promote social entrepreneurship. Participants, which included everyone from U.S. management consultants to African NGOs and venture capitalists from India, shared their experiences and brainstormed about solutions.

The conference was full of buzz words like “BOP” (bottom of the pyramid not balance of payments), “sustainability” and “social enterprise,” but what I came away with was that the surge in attention is sometimes creating mismatches of technology and mismatches of money

Source: Wall Street Journal (link opens in a new window)