Weekly Roundup: 1-29-12 – Creative Destruction in Response to Disaster
Before I get into this week’s roundup, which I have been derelict in bringing to you in the last few weeks, another note on the redesign (the reason why I’ve been derelict). We launched the new NextBillion on Jan. 20 in Beta mode, and since then have been gradually adding new features. We’re pretty proud of it, but we know there are some dead links out there, a few bugs and several enhancements that still need to be turned on. I’m planning to make several more announcements regarding new site enhancements in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, thanks to everyone for your patience and words of approval (and sometimes constructive criticism) on the new design and our new platform. Please keep them coming!
The two-year anniversary of the earthquakes in Haiti this month brought a deluge of international news media progress reports. A large portion of the reporting has been lamentations of the way aid has been distributed. I’d point you to NPR for an expansive story on this topic.
There were far fewer stories about enterprise solutions to poverty. But it would seem the real destruction in Haiti has encouraged a creative destruction of outmoded business practices in favor of new models to empower the Haitian people and their economy. Zafèn, which literally means “it’s our business’ in Haitian Creole, is but one example to emerge. The Kiva-like portal puts members of the Haitian diaspora (and anyone else for that matter) in touch with numerous small and growing businesses, and projects seeking loans as little as $25 to address basic social needs. Zafèn partnered with Fonkoze (check out Oscar Abello’s excellent two-parter on this organization here and here), Haiti’s bank for the poor, to perform due diligence on the enterprises featured in the portal, evaluating each SME’s potential for job creation.
According to Zafèn, it has raised more than $500,000 to create jobs, improve the environment, support education and bring new services to communities across Haiti since its launch in 2010. Zafèn says it has has verified the creation of more than 200 full-time jobs, almost 150 part-time jobs and nearly 100 temporary jobs through loans to Haitian entrepreneurs. One example Zafèn representatives highlight is a sewing shop that received an $8,000 loan to employ 17 people to work Haiti’s Camp Perin. The money purchased fabric, such as organza, cotton, and linen that enabled these tailors to accept larger orders and swiftly deliver garments to meet demand.
– There’s still time to apply for a new masters program dedicated to transforming social enterprise through the power of design. Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts is billed as the first MFA program for designers and graduates in other disciplines who want to harness design to create positive change and impact. The wide-scoped program is taught by faculty who are all leaders from the worlds of science, art, health care, entrepreneurship, global corporations, social movements, game design, grant making, research, leadership development, living systems and communication design. The program is seeking inaugural cohort of 25 diverse, extraordinary students will become leaders in solving real world challenges, beginning in the fall of 2012. Details are here.
– Entrepreneurial Solutions for Prosperity (ESParnters) has partnered with IP3 to offer a new course to assist entrepreneurs, and organizations serving entrepreneurs in BoP markets. The March 12-March 23 2012 course in Washington D.C. is lead by Eric Kacou, and is tailored to representatives of trade organizations, consumer advocacy groups, government agencies, and NGOs. The course aims to equip participants with the tools to fully understand the practical techniques and skills needed to increase the effectiveness of the private sector and the overall competitiveness of developing nations with a large base of the pyramid markets. More details are here.
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