November 20

Scott Anderson / Kyle Poplin

Weekly Roundup 11-20-15: Being Bullish on Being Dovish

Given the dire news of terrorism from Paris, and yes, in Beirut as well, it can feel like war and talk of war is everywhere.

Which is why the essay “Impact Investing for Peace?” by Durreen Shahnaz, founder and chairwoman of the Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX), in Wharton magazine was a welcome sight for sore eyes. Shahnaz doesn’t just opine on war, she’s lived it:

“One of my earliest memories is when I was 3 years old, growing up in East Pakistan during the liberation war for Bangladesh in 1971. Two planes, an F-86 and a MiG-21, were battling in the sky above my house. The dogfight ended with one crashing in my backyard, a moment etched into my memory for a lifetime.

“Fast-forward 40 years, and I still find myself living in a world shaped by war, the weapons more advanced, the motives more sophisticated. Strangely, the solutions remain relatively unevolved.”

Not content to let history continually repeat itself, Shahnaz describes the effort of IIX and the UN Development Programme’s N-Peace Initiative to create the IIX N-Peace Innovation Challenge, which “aims to act as a platform for peacebuilding and business to converge by leveraging the power of the impact investing movement now taking on the world.”

It identified six impact enterprises from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines – ventures focused on healthcare, education and energy. The winners were flown last month to New York to present during the UN General Assembly. And although they didn’t receive any money, they were given some recognition and the opportunity to connect with big players on a big stage.

“They are brewing, weaving, igniting and democratizing peace across regions and are set to revolutionize the way the world will think about peace and business in the future.”

In other words, they’re bullish on being dovish.

– Scott Anderson



The patient-first optics at Aravind

The Aravind Eye Care Center is a rock star among healthcare providers in the developing world – and, come to think of it, the developed world – for having perfected a surgery system that yields unmatched efficiency. It’s been studied and restudied as the world seeks to identify the magic that fuels its success.

This is all fascinating to Dr. R.D. Ravindran, Aravind’s chairman and director of quality, as I learned during a recent sit-down interview. Where others see magic, he sees a completely transparent organization full of hard workers.

Aravind is simply looking out the opposite end of the binoculars from most healthcare providers. They start with patients’ needs and then find solutions, where others try to match patients with solutions.

The culture at Aravind says there are never too many patients – and that includes poor, non-paying patients – and the organization counts on doctors and senior nurses to make sure this permeates the workforce.

It’s not a secret  to be revealed from yet-another case study. It’s there to be duplicated; it’s just really difficult. And maybe, for those on the outside looking in, it’s simply easier to believe Aravind has captured magic than to consider what it would take for an organization to flip the binoculars.

Consider that there are many reasons to adopt telehealth in the U.S.; it alleviates travel time for patients in rural areas, keeps people out of emergency rooms, increases productivity, etc. A recent study showed that 90 percent of U.S. doctors would use telehealth … as long as they come out OK in the deal. I can practically feel Dr. Ravindran wincing at that news.

It’s not that the Aravind system requires martyrs. Aravind makes money and wants to make even more. It’s just that they’re doing it by starting with their patients’ needs.

Perhaps it’s time to stop studying Aravind and start studying the many healthcare organizations around the world that can’t get their mind around that concept.

– Kyle Poplin


Moving on from Toniic

After three years at the helm, Stephanie Cohn Rupp announced that she is exiting as CEO of Toniic at the end of the year. The group, funded in part by Omidyar Network and KL Felicitas, is a global network of investors assembled around the goal of getting impact investing from the sidelines to the mainstream. Alison Fort, Toniic managing director for Europe, will step in as acting CEO on Jan. 1 and will occupy the post until a replacement is hired. In a mass email, Rupp wrote she’s joining Threshold Group as managing director of impact investing. Her goodbye missive has a parting thought:

“In my personal view, we need to build the sector of impact investing through a new class of professionals, who understand the need for rigor and achieving a triple bottom line and aligning integrity and values with their work. Having a mission or being a conscientious investor means aligning our goals and being stronger – grounded in our values – and holding ourselves to a higher standard to scale the industry.”

Find out more about Toniic in this 2014 NextBillion interview with Rupp.


– Scott Anderson


Rewarding Tech-Humanity

Earlier this month, The Tech Awards celebrated creativity, ingenuity and humanity by honoring and funding 10 laureates who are harnessing technology for good. Its gala event, which also recognized the 15th anniversary awards, brought the stories of these entrepreneurs and innovators to light.

Here’s just one example. PrePex (CircMedTech Ltd.) produces a disposable, non-surgical circumcision device used in 12 countries across sub-Saharan Africa to help reduce HIV infection rates. After using the device, the men report to a clinic for removal of the foreskin, in a procedure the company describes as nearly pain free. More than 80,000 procedures have been performed and 11 local training centers are now spread across eight countries.

Check some pretty amazing video features on all the winners here.

– Scott Anderson


Photo courtesy of eddiedangerous.

Health Care, Investing, Technology
impact investing