Fund primary health care. Everywhere. Now.
Bridge International Academies has entered into an agreement with the Liberian government to manage 50 government primary schools for one year. It is a pilot program that, if it produces excellent results, could conceivably scale up to cover the entire country.
Six ways to do more with less.
Even in the world of poverty and development, seduction sometimes works out OK.
A simple way to think about investment and design
There have been many thoughtful responses to our original post about GiveDirectly and unconditional cash transfers. We gave this particular hornet's nest a poke in the first place, and so we owe a response to the helpful points raised.
GiveDirectly is the current flavor of the month, and every couple of days someone asks us what we think of it. For those of you behind on your news feed, GiveDirectly does unconditional cash transfers -- it sends money via mobile payment straight to the poorest people in Kenyan villages.
I thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual bar fight between Charity Navigator and fans of GiveWell over a recent SSIR blog post. A few years ago, GiveWell posted a no-holds-barred critique of Charity Navigator, and after suitable time to sharpen the knives, Charity Navigator roared back, slamming GiveWell's approach to philanthropy as "defective altruism."
When I was a kid there was a product called the Easy Bake Oven that was a working toy oven. To me, it didn't seem like a toy at all. It was a magical machine that produced perfect cakes. Today, "incubator" and "accelerator" programs purport to work the same magic for aspiring social enterprises: start with the right ingredients (a big idea!), give it the right time and space to set (short-term immersion with mentors, networks and resources), and the result, without fail, will be a finished product.
I was sitting at my desk the other day, writing a recommendation letter for some prize or another, and I found myself thinking, "Why the hell am I doing this?" It often takes me a couple of hours to write something I feel good about -- and for what? The vast majority of contestants don't win anything, and even when they do, it's often shamefully small amounts of money and/or the dubious assumption that the attendant publicity will lead to bigger things.
I just spent another month in Africa, visiting remarkable people doing remarkable work in four countries. In between all the remarkable stuff was way too much time on potholed highways and muddy rural roads. Despite the heady distractions of trying to fix the stereo and arguments about whether "Django" deserved the Oscar for best screenplay (it did), I was impressed yet again by the proliferation of development industry signs by the side of the road.
Vestergaard-Frandsen (VF), a manufacturer based in Switzerland, recently distributed about 900,000 of its LifeStraw Family water filters gratis to households in Kenya's Western Province. Since I'd been a vocal critic of the project in concept, I thought I ought to have a look at how it's working out on the ground.
Unrestricted money makes an organization work smoothly, enables innovation, and provides fuel for growth.
Carbon for Water is engaged in a loopy funding scheme and offers a lousy public health solution.