On June 1 – 2 2011 in New York City, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (GBC) will celebrate 10 years since being founded by the late Ambassador Richard Holbrook.

The GBC’s 2011 Conference and Awards Dinner looks set to be an engaging event focused on the corporate world’s response to global health challenges and the identification of new avenues for future business action.

The speaker line-up is likely to inspire and provoke substantive debate, with a fantastic selection of global thought leaders, inspirational business executives, and influential government officials.

The engagement of the private sector in global health challenges is an imperative and this conference is a valuable contribution bridging together diverse stakeholders in global health to explore the avenues for future business action and engagement.

With over 500 participants from the private sector, non-profit sector, governments, and academia, for anyone working in the field of global health this is without a doubt an event to put in your calendar this year. For more information, and to register for the conference, follow this link: GBC Conference and Awards Dinner 2011

A Practical Roadmap for Next Generation BOP

I just finished reading Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid, a new book by co-editors Ted London and Stuart L. Hart. The book sets out to lay the foundations for the second generation of bottom of the pyramid (BOP) innovation,”BOP 2.0″ if you will, fundamentally shifting the framework from finding the fortune at the BOP to creating fortune with the BOP.

Lying at the heart of this crucial and innovative concept of creating fortune with the BOP is market creation, rather than market entry in and of itself. Recognizing that the world’s poor are not just four billion consumers, but also a source of entrepreneurial talent, this book sets out to redefine the boundaries of BOP business strategies with cross-sector partnerships between multi-lateral donors, development organizations, and the poor themselves, to create new markets at the BOP and tap into these markets collaboratively. A multitude of incentive structures secure the value of this new concept, one that paves the way not only for potential corporate profits in a new market, but also the the development community’s goal of poverty alleviation.

This cross-sectoral approach, and the potential of these partnerships, makes this book not just insightful reading on BOP strategies for businesses and entrepreneurs, but also for those leading and designing innovative programs in international development, recognizing that we still have a long way to go in alleviating poverty and that such inclusive growth strategies and cross-sector solutions might bring us closer towards this goal.

The insight from this new book provides a wide-reaching re-framing of the challenges and opportunities at the BOP. The highlight in reading the book however is that it’s chock-full of practical insight from both stories of success and failure of new business ventures at the BOP, with the co-editors and co-authors weaving together expertise in corporate venture development with deep practitioner experience at the BOP.

To find more information about the book and buy a copy, visit www.nextgenerationbop.com

Hanoi, Vietnam: I recently met Trang Nguyen, a 22 year old, born around the time economic reform began here in 1986. After telling her that I had visited and worked with the orphanage where she was brought up, she shared her story and her hopes for the future with me:

Trang was born into a poor rural family in Central Vietnam. At the age of six, she was placed in an orphanage in nearby Danang. The orphanage put her through school, and when her time came to enter the workforce, a partnering international NGO, spearheaded by an Australian, sponsored her to undertake hospitality training in Ha Noi. Now at 22, she has been working at one of Ha Noi’s newest five star hotels for the past year and a half. She makes enough money to send some home to her family who were too poor to raise her. Her mentors over the years have been humanitarian businessmen and she hopes to step in their footsteps. One day, she hopes to have enough money to be able not only to support herself and her family, but give back to the orphanage that raised her and that continues to provide hope for children in central Vietnam.

Subtly woven into her life story are the opportunities that a globalized development network can create, from the orphanage and the hospitality training school, to her career in the hospitality industry in one of the world’s top hotel chains, in Hanoi, catering to an increasing number of foreign businessmen and tourists entering Vietnam. These opportunities would have been unthinkable in the early ‘80s in Vietnam, and I believe they speak to the value of partnerships/cross-sector partnerships, where development is working.

In the video below, Charlie Rose interviews Dambisa Moyo, Jacqueline Novogratz, and Peter Singer on the “idea of aid” and their opinions on what works in aid.

Focusing on the second interview with Jacqueline Novogratz, she is the founder of Acumen Fund and author of the new book “The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World”. The book is a refreshing perspective on international development and an inspiring read. As Jacqueline chronicles the last 25 years of her experiences in development, she lends a unique business-minded perspective and level of accountability to the development work she does. Jacqueline’s story, compassion and dedication are inspiring. Just as inspiring are the stories she tells so well about the incredible people she has met along the way in India, Pakistan, and throughout Africa, as well as her experience working in Rwanda before the genocide and coming back to meet some of her friends who survived.To read more about the book and buy it online, click here to go to Amazon.com.

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Please note our name change to Tall Orders! We are in the process of moving to a new location and will provide an update on this soon.

A Company Prospers by Saving Poor People’s Lives

It all started with mosquito nets. Or, no, with guinea worm filters. Or, before that, with a million yards of wool in the mountains of Sweden. Or, taken back another generation, to uniforms for hotel and supermarket workers. There are plenty of charitable foundations and public agencies devoted to helping the world’s poor, many with instantly recognizable names like Unicef or the Gates Foundation. But private companies with that as their sole focus are rare. Even the best-known is not remotely a household name: Vestergaard-Frandsen.

Its products are in use in refugee camps and disaster areas all over the third world: PermaNet, a mosquito net impregnated with insecticide; ZeroFly, a tent tarp that kills flies; and the LifeStraw, a filter worn around the neck that makes filthy water safe to drink. Some are not only life-saving but even beautiful. The turquoise and navy blue LifeStraw is in museum design collections.

“Vestergaard is just different from other companies we work with,” said Kevin Starace, malaria adviser for the United Nations Foundation. “They think of the end user as a consumer rather than as a patient or a victim.” For example, he said, they have added a cellphone pocket to their bed nets, and make window curtains that kill bugs.


Read more about this company and the work they are doing to help the world’s poor in the NYT’s article here

Net Effect: Neighborhood Watch
By Elizabeth Dickinson
Published in: Foreign Policy, January/February 2009

“For years, creating an effective means of alerting the world to brewing conflicts has been the dream of humanitarians.
When a rush of violence broke out last January after Kenya’s presidential election, many wondered why it was so unexpected. Electoral rigging set off the attacks, but surely tensions simmered before. Could Kenya have seen the outburst coming and perhaps done something to prevent it?

Prediction, at least, was possible—and Web-based nonprofit Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony”) did just that. Funded by grants and individual donations, Ushahidi had already developed software that allowed any mobile-phone user in Kenya to report incidents of community tension. “[T]here were a lot of rumors going around way before the violence,” says Ushahidi’s founder, Ory Okolloh.

Okolloh’s group operates one of a growing number of conflict early warning systems that are springing up online. They work because they are simple and fast. An Ushahidi user, for example, sends details of turmoil by text or posts directly to ushahidi.com. Once a local NGO verifies the account, the incident gets entered into the Ushahidi database and plotted on a map, tagged with a description of the event and with space for pictures and video. In Kenya, reports of violence were texted back to local leaders, who could mediate community conflict. International observers could monitor the reports, too.

For years, creating an effective means of alerting the world to brewing conflicts has been the dream of humanitarians. The African Union has been intent on creating its own system since the early 1990s. But none of the ideas was Internet-based. As the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies put it, Web-based approaches “would have been patently inappropriate for an organization that only recently achieved a moderate level of external e-mail connectivity.”

With Ushahidi, information is available within minutes, and Okolloh says censorship isn’t a problem because governments “are more interested in what’s in newspapers than what’s online.” Kenya was the first testing ground, and now Ushahidi is jumping into other conflict countries as well. As of November, the group was already receiving an average of four reports a day from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This growing breadth could make Ushahidi something like the Wikipedia of conflicts, wrote Harvard researchers Joshua Goldstein and Juliana Rotich in a recent paper. “They are tools that allow cooperation on a massive scale.” Ushahidi hopes to become a history worth contributing to. “

The World Health Organization believes that 25% of the medicines sold around the developing world are inauthentic copies containing little or no active ingredients. Medication like this increases the resistance of pathogens to first-line medication and in many cases causes fatality.

But what if a mother caring for her sick child who needs a prescription drug in rural Ghana, could determine by a quick SMS/text-message via her cellphone that the prescription drug she intends to purchase is safe for her child and not a fake?

mPedigree, a Ghanaian start-up, is working to make this a reality throughout Africa. I recently met one of the founders, Bright Simons, a dynamic, young social entrepreneur from Ghana, who is on a mission to find partners and investors and spread the word about mPedigree. If mPedigree is able to forge the public-private partnerships necessary between governments, the pharmaceutical industries, and telecom giants, this technology may well become a revolutionary force in bringing access to safe drugs to people across the developing world.

Read about mPedigree’s approach and Bright’s efforts in this interview with him in June 2008:
MPedigree: Combating Counterfeit Drugs

One of the main purposes of this blog is to introduce inspirational social entrepreneurs and innovative organizations to a wider audience outside of their home countries.


In Cape Town at the end of November last year, I met Nontwenhle Mchunu, a formidable, yet cautious young woman from a small town in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. She is on a mission to create Africa’s first prestigous, world-class chocolate brand, using only ingredients from African soil that have been sustainably produced.

She is well on her way already: in 2008 she won the South African Businesswomen’s Association Regional Business Achiever Awards in the social entrepreneur category for her newly established company, Ezulwini Chocolat; she has trained at one of Europe’s top culinary institutes, Leatherhead International, and in Switzerland where she learned from the world’s leading fine-chocolate makers.

Her ambition is to build a successful chocolate business in the townships of South Africa to create jobs (where unemployment runs as high as 40%), expand access to vocational education for many youth through her business, and use only cocoa and ingredients from sustainable African sources.

Mchunu, or “Chocolate Lady”, has a passion for both sustainable change and chocolate, and South African supermarket chains and hotels, like Pick-n-Pay and Protea Hotels, have already begun to retail her products. With her lofty expectations, entrepreneurial drive, and plans to become South Africa’s leading Chocolatier, I expect we will see her chocolate around the world in the not too distant future.

I met Mchunu at the Evian Group at IMD’s capacity building workshop in Cape Town that was focused on inclusive growth in Africa. Read more about Mchunu and the workshop here:

Evian Group at IMD workshop focuses on inclusive growth

Net Impact: The New Appeal of Metrics and Evaluation
By Kelly McCarth
Published: www.nextbillion.net, November 18, 2008 

“There was a lot of buzz about “impact” last weekend at the  Net Impact Conference. However, this year it wasn’t just talk about creating impact, but most importantly how we consider, measure and prove it.  Perhaps the word was being used too liberally lately thus loosing a bit of its meaning.  

However, as I listened to many organizations whose work intends to generate positive environmental and social impact, it became apparent that a shift is occurring.  Rather than talking simply about impact in anecdotes and what was better than before, foundations, funds, design-for-impact, not-for-profit (and not-for-loss) organizations alike were talking about a “social capital market,as. Jason Saul, CEO of Mission Measurement, summed it up during one of the panels. 

Following are some of the thoughts that came to mind from the perspective of metrics and evaluation while attending some of the sessions at the conference.

In a session titled Hype vs. Reality, panelists dug into the nitty-gritty of how we measure, monitor, and evaluate our work.  “Everyone does knowledge management and monitoring and evaluation poorly,” said Elizabeth Nitze, VP of Ashoka.  “After so much time we in the enterprise development sector are looking around wondering, what the heck happened?  What are the best-practices?  There are none.” There was a unanimous nod of heads from fellow panelists and audience members around the room.  However, in a sector that believes in the positive potential impacts of social entrepreneurs, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  

Indeed, the conversation turned optimistic as panelists Brian Milder (from Root Captial) and Elizabeth Wallace Elders (from globalislocal) joined Nitze in a discussion about the mash-up of innovative minds at Google.orgSalesforce, and Acumen Fund leading the effort to develop what is currently being called the Portfolio Data Management System (PDMS).  Officially announced at theClinton Global Initiative, the PDMS is a web-based tool designed to track, share, and compare portfolio performance data with the ultimate intention of helping the enterprise development community better manage, communicate, and maximize our collective impact.

This is all well and good, but does it pass the “so what” test?  And will other efforts similar to the PDMS actually help improve how we talk about and demonstrate impact?” Read more here.