Rob Katz

Summer Reading Series: IDB America

Summer ReadingI don?t know how I managed it, but I burned through my summer reading list in record time earlier this month.? Perhaps it was a week spent on vacation in Northern Michigan; maybe the heat has kept me inside more than usual.? In any case, I figure folks might be wrapping up their own summer reading and interested in some additional recommendations, so over the next couple of days, I?ll chime in with some ideas.

First up is a back issue of the Inter-American Development Bank’s in-house magazine, IDBAmerica.? The July issue is anchored by BOP content, which makes it a must-read for NextBillionaires.? (Side note–NextBillionaires or NextBillionites?? I can?t decide–comment away if you have a preference).? Anyway, highlights include:

In A Plan to Attack the Poverty Penalty, readers get an overview of the BOP concept from the IDB’s point of view, including some solid data:

This so-called ?poverty penalty? is increasingly viewed as a central reason for the persistence of inequality in many parts of the developing world. The problem isn?t simply that the poor lack money. In fact, the purchasing power of the 360 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean who earn US$300 or less per month is estimated to total a staggering US$510 billion per year.

With a title like Connecting to the Future, it comes as no surprise that the article details BOP projects using information technology.? It’s encouraging to see some data, including:

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have made considerable progress in expanding information and communications technology: Internet penetration increased by 272.8 percent from 2000 to 2005, and cell phones by 171.5 percent.

Luis Alberto Moreno, the President of the IDB, also weighs in with an editorial, An Opportunity for Latin America’s Neglected Majority.? He calls for governments to enable the private sector and spur on growth:

The challenge for governments is to scale up these successful experiences by creating an environment that encourages private enterprise?starting at the base of the economic pyramid… Money alone will not help to create these conditions. What is needed is a willingness to take risks and the long-term commitment essential to transforming public institutions. If they embrace this challenge, Latin America’s new leaders will have an opportunity to ensure that the benefits of the reforms begun in the 1990s will extend, at last, to every level of society.

Other articles in this issue include What Works at the Top Doesn?t Work at the Base and The Roots of Financial Democracy.

Tomorrow: BOP books.