NY Times writes a detailed article about Compartamos, the successful microfinance bank in Mexico:

Carlos Danel and Carlos Labarthe turned a nonprofit that lent money to Mexico’s poor into one of the country’s most profitable banks.

But not all of their colleagues in the world of microlending — so named for the tiny loans it grants — are heaping praise on the co-executives of Compartamos. Some are vilifying them as “pawnbrokers” and “money lenders.”

They are the center of a fractious debate: how far should microfinance go toward becoming big business?

Link

Instead of one laptop per child, why not many virtual desktops per public computer?

Here’s a competitor to the OLPC program but approaching the problem with different technology:

Some people suggest perhaps the solution isn’t to put hardware into the hands of every person, but rather to maximize the number of people who have access to a PC. That’s the idea behind Paris startup Jooce (the name is a play on “juice,” as in electricity), which has devised a novel software system that lets many people use a single machine as though it were theirs alone.

Whether in an Internet café or village kiosk, a PC equipped with Jooce software gives each person who logs in a customized environment—complete with programs, preferences, bookmarks, buddy lists, and so forth. That way, even though many people may use the machine each day, it feels “personal” to each one. Jooce also lets subscribers securely store an unlimited number of documents, photos, videos, and other data—as well as gives them the ability to share those files easily with other Jooce users.

Link to Business Week

NYT Magazine: Giving It Away

The New York Times is calling this “The Money Issue”.

Here’s some of the articles from the magazine:

About Natalie Portman and her role with FINCA. Link

What Makes People Give? Fund raisers talk about marketing gimmicks to make people give more. Link

How Many Billionaires Does It Take to Fix a School System? Five experts debate the new education philanthropy. Link

Self-Made Philanthropists. Herb and Marion Sandler are giving away their phenomenal wealth the same way they earned it — by calling the shots. Link

[On Measuring Social Impact] For Good, Measure. Foundations are increasingly using “metrics” to determine if their grants are working. But can you really measure the return-on-investment of giving to a cause? Link

Slideshow on the Faces of Social Entrepreneurship. Link

The general link to the NYT Magazine is here.

Goldman Sachs Funds Womens Education, OLPC Looks For CEO

Two interesting articles from Business Week:

“On Mar. 5, investment bank Goldman Sachs announced it would change the equation by pumping $100 million into educational projects for these women over the next five years.” Link

“After weathering an acrimonious split from Intel and harsh criticism from critics, One Laptop Per Child is reorganizing—and looking for a new CEO” Link

Link Roundup- Bill Gates, Carbon Offsets

On Thursday, the Microsoft Chairman will post a question related to “how technology can be better utilized for charitable causes” to LinkedIn’s entire 19 million members. Link

Carbon offset providers jockey for credibility. Link

“I know that capitalism works, that American entrepreneurialism works, and we can damn well expect that private capital — not government money — will actually solve this problem.” Link

The 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey shows that households with incomes below $20,000 gave a higher percentage of their earnings to charity than did any other income group. Link

Social Entrepreneurs In The News

Today, the once-struggling venture has morphed into a primarily for-profit enterprise. And the striking transformation of In2Books is emblematic of a larger trend: charities are changing their spots and making use of some of capitalism’s virtues.

The process is being pushed forward by a new breed of social entrepreneurs who are administering increasing doses of bottom-line thinking to traditional philanthropy in order to make charity more effective.

Link

It’s still unclear how much a company profits from doing good, but a new study of international executives shows it certainly doesn’t hurt business

From Business Week:

It is one of the biggest questions in corporate governance: Is there really any financial payoff for promoting enlightened social, environmental, and ethical practices? Or are companies that get the most attention for doing good merely those that can afford to do so?

Link

IBM Develops Software For Microfinance Institutions

Here now, an exciting development. IBM has developed a “microfinance processing hub,” i.e., a shared infrastructure and software platform that provides groups of MFIs with a centralized core banking system, data center, operations management, and transaction processing. “When we started to work on the Microfinance initiative of IBM, we found that gaining access to appropriate back-office technology was the single most important obstacle for the growth of small institutions and the microfinance industry in general,” says Alberto Jimenez, Global Business Advisor for the Financial Services Sector of IBM.

Link to CGAP.