Nathan Wyeth

Weekly Roundup: Focus on Children, Early and Often

This week, we welcomed four new people to the NextBillion team: Maria Zheng, Andrew Eder, Bryan Farris, and Adeena Schlussel. Watch for their contributions and insights!

This week, staff writers took new looks at how enterprises can intervene in education and early childhood to create new security and prosperity into the future:

What Social Businesses are Doing to Fight Terrorism

New staff writer Bryan Farris examines a topic often discussed in the media from a new angle – before education steers people towards radicalism or towards economic opportunity, the education must be paid for. Credit and financial services for the poor and for student loans offer an alternative to large flows of funding from Islamist sources.

Reversing the Cycle of Poverty: Targeting Early Childhood Development

Manuel Bueno highlights the critical nature of early childhood in determining long-term individual outcomes – and by extension, economic outcomes. He asserts that early childhood is an overlooked market for base of the pyramid businesses.

The Bottom of the Pyramid: A Disruptive Force to be Reckoned With?

Mark Beckford argues that base of the pyramid markets are tailore made for the generation of disruptive technologies and approaches. If it’s not seriously cheaper and better than existing products and services, it probably won’t succeed. A powerful insight on why we are seeing so much polycentric innovation.

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We added some great upcoming events to the Take Action page. Get excited for Sankalp 2010, India’s larges social enterprise forum. Readers of NextBillion know the sheer energy and breadth of new social enterprises in India – be part of it May 4-5 in Mumbai. This week, watch for reports from the Social Venture Capital/Social Enterprise Conference in Miami, Florida!

We also posted some fantastic jobs. If you missed them:

The Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Colombia has an open-ended call for recent graduates to apply for internships with their global programs on agriculture. English and a 6-12 month commitment is required.

Ashoka’s inspiring Housing For All initiative – tackling one of the biggest, most complex issues out there – is hiring a director for its Brazil program. The position is in Sao Paolo.


This week a we posted a story that caught my eye at the intersection of social justice and market-oriented development. Waste collectors – individuals that serve as the waste management system in countless urban areas in developing contexts – are vulnerable to their livelihoods being taken away by new modern municipal collection systems and particularly waste-to-energy incineration projects. It’s a thorny question, because large-scale waste management is a clear need. A situation in Delhi illustrates the role that waste collectors may play in waste management that is a leap ahead of landfill dumping, even – there a friend has been involved in a community effort that has organized waste collectors to separate organic waste and divert this to local fertilizer and compost needs, even Delhi parks. It saves the city huge fees in trucking organic waste miles (which makes up the vast majority of urban waste in India) out of Delhi. And even the tiny margins on collecting and sorting organic waste can provide an income stream for waste collectors. Organic waste in open landfills is a huge source of methane, a serious greenhouse gas, so there is real value being created by diverting organic waste from open landfills.

It may or may not scale, but the possibility for organic waste to join recyclables in the diverted waste streams creates real value. Or perhaps waste collectors can be integrated into supply chains that sort waste according to highest value – local compost, recyclables, waste-to-energy projects, large-scale landfills with methane capture that can generate carbon credits.

The venerable Self-Employed Women’s Association in Gujurat got its start organizing self-employed people in Ahmedabad, like waste collectors, to give them a semblance of power in the markets that determined their livelihoods. No matter how the waste management systems evolve – through large-scale systems or community-scale sorting – the livelihoods of the waste collectors should be kept in mind.

Around the blogosphere:

For San Francisco readers, from the Acumen blog: “The San Francisco for Acumen Chapter will be having its Wine Tasting Event on 25th March, at the SNOB Wine Bar & Lounge from 6.30pm – 9.30pm.” (ed. note: Lest you get the wrong ideas, SNOB stands for Sonoma, Napa, Or Beyond.)

The Solar Electric Light Fund is partnering with Partners In Health to put solar panels on all of its clinics – including in Haiti. As noted in the Economist, expect to hear more about solar for Haiti as Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room pushes it as a major piece of Haiti reconstruction and development at a UN donor conference later this month.

And finally, China is to India like Wal-Mart is to Target? You’ll have to read it to see if you agree.