William Easterly: Today, I foist a new blog called Aid Watch on the blogosphere. The objective is to be brutally honest when aid is not helping the poor, but also praising it when it is.
Joshua Venture, a Jewish social entrepreneur fellowship program, seeks an Executive Director to be responsible for leading Joshua Venture as it builds upon its assets, strong brand, and past successes. This is a unique and innovative professional opportunity for an experienced, creative and talented leader to have a major impact on the North American Jewish community through helping to launch and establish new organizations and entrepreneurial ventures and by advancing the concept and role of social entrepreneurship in the Jewish community.
The mission of Joshua Venture is to reinvigorate and expand the Jewish community by cultivating the leadership and management capability of young Jewish social entrepreneurs and investing in their visions and the growth of healthy and sustainable organizations. The fellowship provides seed funding, organizational and professional development support and communities of practice. It also confers legitmacy upon the fellows and their ventures, and expands their networks within the Jewish world.
The Executive Director will develop strategy, set goals, redesign and implement the program, including the recruitment and mentorship of the fellows, and manage performance. S/he will create and maintain sound business and organizational models that promote and support the organization’s mission and vision, a positive and supportive atmosphere, and financial accountability and will serve as the organization’s representative in a wide variety of settings. Joshua Venture seeks a candidate who can be both a strategic thinker and hands-on leader and manager. Knowledge of, and experience in, nonprofit management, adult learning, the Jewish community and Jewish organizations and the ability to move comfortably between traditional and non-traditional organizational and community circles is critical.
Please see our website for the full position description- http://www.drgnyc.com/current_searches/index.cfm
via Economist’s View:
Today’s world hunger crisis is unprecedentedly severe and requires urgent measures. Nearly one billion people are trapped in chronic hunger – perhaps 100 million more than two years ago. Spain is taking global leadership in combating hunger by inviting world leaders to Madrid in late January to move beyond words to action. With Spain’s leadership and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s partnership, several donor governments are proposing to pool their financial resources so that the world’s poorest farmers can grow more food and escape the poverty trap.
Gretchen sends us this story about some work that students and a professor from Cornell University are doing with a small entrepreneur in Botswana who is trying to market natural food products to improve rural livelihoods:
Entrepreneur and self-described “ideas man” Frank Taylor moved from Cape Town, South Africa to Botswana seeking a challenge, trading game skins and leading archaeology, ethnology and botany exhibitions for a museum in South Africa. “I was living on the smell of an oil rag,” Taylor said. “A jack of all trades, master of none.”
43 years later, Taylor still lives in Botswana and recently started a natural food products company called WildFoods that he says is the only company in southern Africa to produce dried snacks made from native foods that are grown in the wild including nuts, fruits and melons on a commercial scale.
With a staff of 11 that has no formal training in marketing or management and no financing but plenty of passion and business acumen, Taylor aims to market these products to the country’s burgeoning tourism industry to improve the livelihoods of rural communities in Botswana.
For the next week, three students and an applied economics and management professor from Cornell University will be working with Taylor on developing marketing strategies to increase distribution of the company’s products among tourists in Botswana. Cornell’s Emerging Markets program has been organizing such trips for students who are interested in hands on business development experience in Africa for the past few years.
By the end of the trip, the students will have developed a situation analysis and strategic review of the company; a profile that the company can use to market itself to potential buyers; and recommendations about potential marketing strategies and ways to streamline inventory control, costing and bookkeeping. In the coming months, the students will also write a case study about the business to submit for publication.
WildFoods, which was established in 2007, produces jam and snacks made from an indigenous fruit called marula, chocolate covered marula nut clusters, and dried wild cucumber and melon slices, made from fruits that have yet to be extensively exploited commercially and otherwise often go to rot or are eaten by animals.
The products are currently distributed in some supermarkets and craft stores and on two airlines in Botswana and South Africa. Taylor would like to focus on increasing distribution in the tourism industry and has seen interest from lodges in game reserves in Botswana and South Africa.
Taylor buys the raw materials from local rural people, principally women. “We can really have a big economic impact on these small subsistence farmers,” Taylor said. “The more products we can offer, the more people we can employ, the greater economic impact we can have.”
Taylor said he purchases all the fruit a community has harvested even if it is more than he needs. “We cannot refuse to buy because we see what happens when we do that,” Taylor said. “People make all sorts of promises and then never follow through. That’s the worst thing you can do.”
WildFoods is currently in dialogue with a local community development organization that wants to improve local livelihoods through the harvesting of natural products but lacks the technical expertise and facilities to process products, which is where Taylor’s business comes in.
Taylor said the company’s main challenges include a lack of financing and a lack of technical expertise to improve and expand its range of products. Although WildFoods has yet to make a profit, Taylor said he would like to eventually be able to have all workers share in the profits and to be able to set a maximum deferential between the lowest paid and the highest paid workers. “I want to see the workers getting a better deal,” he said.
One of WildFoods’ products, Marula Stix, recently won the 2008 Africa Natural Product Award from PhytoTrade Africa, Africa’s only trade association dedicated to the development of a sustainable natural products industry. The award is given to a business in southern Africa that is committed to ethical and sustainable products that use natural ingredients.
“Frank Taylor has long been a driving force behind the commercialization of natural products in southern Africa,” PhytoTrade’s CEO said in a press release. “He has led by example through his commitment to environmental sustainability and community development.”
Taylor arrived in Botswana 43 years ago with what would be the equivalent of US$25 today in his pocket. He initially worked for a trading company and later started a tanning and taxidermy operation in northern Botswana. In 1975, he moved to Gabane, about 10 kilometers outside the capital city of Gaborone, and started Pelegano Village Industries, a non-governmental community development organizations that he still directs. He also established Veld Products Research, an organization that researches and develops uses for non-timber forest products to benefit local communities.
I’ve been meaning to reblog this for a while:
The question of creative capitalism is whether there is some role for institutions that falls between traditional profit-making and nonprofit firms. Is the world being well served with these two clearly distinguished types of entities, one of which serves only shareholders and the other of which has some other goal? Does it make sense to consider hybrid organizations that have an obligation to earn financial returns, for some of their investors, and social returns for others? In a sense, the world has long had such hybrids in the form of profit-making subsidiaries of philanthropies and companies, like Ikea, that are owned by foundations.
Such hybrids will always be messy and may end up being unworkable. Perhaps the Friedman-Posner-Summers distaste for them is correct.
We are streamlining our operations this month, cutting staff and contractors by roughly 50% (from every team) and laying out broad targets for the coming year.
Check out their blog here.
According to The Chronicle, S.F.O. has partnered with 3Degrees, a San Francisco-based offsets firm that invests in clean-energy and carbon-reduction projects. The airport is supplying the kiosks and putting $163,000 into the program — and while the prices from are yet to be determined, a 3Degrees official told The Chronicle that offsetting a trip to Europe currently costs around $36.