Finally had a chance to recap some of the topics from yesterday:
1. Job creation is key to peace, not just economic growth: Scott Gilmore of the Peace Dividend Trust (one of last night’s awardees) spoke about his success redirecting $400M of US military spending in Afghanistan to local businesses. Connie Duckworth of Arzu Rugs employs Afghan women to make high-quality products for global markets, using the same rationale.
2. The key to long-term development is in value chains that engage the poor. Andrew Youn’s One Acre Fund (another 2010 awardee) has connected 22,000 farm families to markets for their produce. Groups like Camfed are now involved in connecting poor women and girls not only to education, but also to jobs that engage these new skills.
3. Cultural norms can change from within. Organizations like Tostan have made strides against female genital cutting by working within African communities; Telapak applies the same principles to convince people to preserve their lands while finding sustainable ways to derive income from them.
There’s also some discussion around the New York Times piece critiquing big banks entering the microfinance space. My take? If organizations charge high interest rates but are structured as nonprofits, such as Nigeria’s Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO), we needn’t be concerned.For-profit banks with 85%+ interest rates are another story.