William Kramer

Reporting Back from the Business in Development Challenge

Business in Development ChallengeI am just back from the BiD Challenge, described by Rob in his post from last week. Several programs from WRI participated in the Challenge event – ourselves and New Ventures. The day of events included a number of well-produced and well thought-out interchanges, including conversations with a number of the corporate and institutional underwriters and competition judges, a “talk show” style review of some of the judges’ favorite projects (not all were winners, by the way), an interview of past winners, and on-the-ground videos highlighting entrants. Well done.

Winners have been posted already to the Challenge site. At the end of the day, Thierry Sanders, head of NCDO, announced plans for the 2007 competition, and it creates a two-tiered system – one for start-ups, and a second for more mature enterprises. As was pointed out by several of the judges, the start-up nature of the event sets some limits on the possible impacts. NCDO has been remarkably successful in getting big banks and companies involved, and the new plan will, I think, make the BiD Challenge more meaningful to their sponsors. (BTW, a mild correction to Rob’s previous post; NCDO is set up as an NGO, but it is almost entirely funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; its purpose is to engage Dutch businesses in emerging economies). At the same time, it will also allow WRI to engage more fully with their processes. Look for some announcements along these lines in the next few months.