Philanthropy Action

News & Commentary



Oct 21, 2010

Microinsurance: It Works but Nobody Wants It

In summary, the various studies showed that there is tremendous potential for microinsurance—it has large benefits if the barriers to adoption are overcome. It seems that the most important area for innovation is around the cost of delivery and administration. If insurance providers can bring down those costs, they will find demand and will be able to grow a sustainable business that provides substantial benefits to clients.

Oct 21, 2010

Microfinance Impact and Innovation: Microfinance Impacts

In the second session of the morning, Dean Karlan from IPA and Yale, and Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo from JPAL presented findings from the latest round of microfinance impact studies.

Oct 21, 2010

Microfinance Impact and Innovation: Opening Session

The morning began with some introductory remarks from Jonathan Morduch, director of the Financial Access Initiative, followed by a presentation from Moody’s Jody Rasch on the investment rating company’s efforts to create a social performance rating methodology for microfinance institutions.

Oct 08, 2010

Starring Cause Marketing Campaigns

This year I’ve decided to do something a bit more than just point out the questions, flaws and issues with cause marketing. I’m going to attempt to start a crowdsourced certification of cause marketing programs based on conformance with minimum standards of disclosure. Essentially, I’m asking you to 1) help me form a set of minimum, easy to judge standards for programs that are more than just gimmicks, and 2) start pointing out and rating cause marketing programs that meet those standards.

Sep 28, 2010

Is US Education in Crisis?

Nicholas Lemann posits in last week’s New Yorker that there is no crisis in US public education. Is he right?

Sep 22, 2010

Technology in Education - More questions than answers

A New York Times article on the potential of using video games kids in education makes some interesting points about the kind of lessons people learn when mastering a game. Success comes only when you get the highest level, and no gamer expects to get there without having their avatar die many times before they get there. Failure, in short, is an expected, necessary and useful part of the process, and you can fail as much as you want—the game will let you try again.

Aug 12, 2010

Ensuring Markets in Education Work

A recent study of for-profit higher education institutions in the US found widespread misbehavior. Social entrepreneurs, funders and policy makers in the “private schools for the poor” movement should take note—and ensure their programs design accountability, transparency and quality governance systems from the outset.

Aug 10, 2010

A Warning Sign of the Next Food Crisis?

While Russia’s decision isn’t necessarily a sign of another rampaging food crisis, it is just another alarm bell about the state of the world food supply and how susceptible the system is to weather and government action. Ultimately, this is another data point on the priority of improving yields around the world, fighting the brown revolution with every tool we have, and ending the unjust and evil tyranny of developed world food policy.

Jul 30, 2010

Further Thoughts on Unitus/SKS

Some conversations and reactions to my earlier post have made it clear to me that I need to clarify some points and my thoughts on Unitus and SKS.The key issue for me is not that something “wrong” was done; it’s certainly not that people are profiting by serving the poor. The key issue is how we as a society handle the cross-overs between the public interest and private interest. We debate these issues endlessly when it comes to economic stimulus, bailouts, and government contracts. It’s time for the social entrepreneurship sector to debate these issues too—and to come up with some very good answers that ensure the public maintains confidence in social enterprise as a way of solving our pressing problems.

Jul 28, 2010

Why Every Social Entrepreneur Should Be Paying Attention to SKS and Unitus

There are some very real issues for the social entrepreneurship community raised by the SKS IPO and the Unitus shutdown. Issues that social entrepreneurs have, to date, been able to ignore. No longer. We are for the first time, I believe, seeing what the endgame for social entrepreneurship can look like. The social entrepreneurship space is still the wild west—everyone is making it up as they go along. I suspect that is going to rapidly change as the details about SKS and Unitus slowly trickle out.

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