Friday, 22 February 2008

Paul Collier talks about the Bottom Billion

This is an excellent talk about the bottom billion by Paul Collier, economist and author of the book of the same name (the book is on my amazon list of Books about ending global poverty). Unfortunately I had a problem seeing the video on the website but there is an audio file that can be downloaded from the Policy Innovations web site.

Paul Collier states that we need to move beyond aid and refers to policy instruments for tackling global poverty. In this talk he ellaborates on the policy instrument of governance and how to turn resources into sustained development. He also describes 5 key decision points for developing countries and how these should be adopted as voluntary international standards.

The 5 key decision points he raises are:
1. How to sell rights to mineral extraction (currently based on bribes)
2. Taxing revenues (guidance on tax regimes)
3. How much of the revenue to save
4. What to do with revenue saved (invest well domestically)
5. Efficient rate of return (how to determine estimates with international verification)

I look forward even more to reading The Bottom Billion after hearing Paul Collier talk about his ideas. A good point that he makes in closing his talk, which is relevant to many similar books is:

read it, if you agree with it, become ambassadors for the ideas

Links to the article and audio file:
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
The Bottom Billion - Paul Collier (audio file)

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Afghanistan's Girl Gap

Nothing gives principal Suraya Sarwary more pleasure than the sound of her second-grade girls reciting a new lesson out loud. Six years ago, that sound could have gotten her executed. The Taliban had outlawed education for girls, but a few brave teachers taught them in secret.

read more | digg story

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Congratulations Sabina - My first Kiva lender to fully pay back loan

Today I received an email with good news. One of my Kiva lenders Sabina Kumah (Good Shepherd Enterprise) has fully paid back her loan within the 10 month repayment term.

Congratulations to Sabina and I hope that her business continues to thrive.

Monday, 21 January 2008

How to make a difference in less than 10 minutes per day - Part 1 - Get Informed

I wanted to use this series of posts to show that it is possible to make a difference just by devoting a small amount of time each day.

Part 1: Get informed

In order to know what the issues related to global poverty are and where you can make a difference, you need to get informed. This may be stating the obvious, but I wanted to include everything and you need to start somewhere to be able to make informed decisions. There are many ways that you can do this and there are many sources of information available including:

  • Books: there are a large number of books that are both inspirational and informative. I have created a list on Amazon of some books that focus on ending global poverty through microfinancing, education, health and social entrepreneurship (list of books about ending global poverty). There are obviously many more available to choose from based on what you are most interested in.

  • Websites: there are many websites related to the various issues of global poverty. Most charity organisation websites have detailed information about the specific issues that the charity deals with such as There are some links on this page, however, there will eventually be more and I will post lists of sites as I discover more.

  • Blogs: I have listed blogs as a separate item because even though they are obviously websites they often serve a slightly different purpose. I do not have too many blog links to list yet and I will add them as I find new ones, however, one I have found that is worth visiting is Riches for Good.

  • Newspapers

In addition to informing yourself by using the Internet and buying books you are also sending a message, and that is that the topics that you are searching for and reading about are of interest and deserve of attention. The more hits that websites receive and the more sales books have all contribute to raising the level of public interest and hopefully media interest in global poverty issues.

Well, that's it for the first part, there is nothing ground breaking but it is a starter and I hope to complement what I have written by adding links to blogs and websites that I discover over time.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Kenya Crisis: Support Kofi Annan

A presidential election tainted by vote-tampering - now Kenya’s future hangs in the balance, with over 600 killed and 250,000 made homeless. We need to act fast.

Through you can add your voice to thousands of others around the world in an attempt to influence global decisions.

read more | digg story

Monday, 14 January 2008

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

The book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin is a wonderful and inspirational read. I was fascinated to read about how Greg Mortensen, after making one promise to a village to build them a school, was able to go on through perseverance and determination to eventually build 50+ schools in Central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provide support for teachers, initiate public health and conservation projects and positively affect the lives of thousands of children. He was able to make a significant difference in regions where governments were continually failing to deliver.

In a time when many people often associate Muslims with terrorism and extremism and the policies of most governments for dealing with terrorism focus on military measures, it was refreshing to read about someone committed to promoting peace through education. Greg's efforts are amazing and the results he was able to achieve on a small budget working tirelessly to get funding would put to shame most countries third world aid programmes. He overcame at times insurmountable problems, even putting his life at risk, to complete the projects he started and fulfil the promises he had made.

It was fantastic how Greg took the time and effort required to learn local cultures and their languages and adapt his way of working to these cultures, eventually becoming integrated and accepted. One is left with the impression that Greg genuinely wanted the villagers to feel that it was they who were building the schools for themselves. I definitely believe that he was successful in achieving this goal.

Basic education is one of the best tools that the world has for fighting poverty and promoting peace, it is also a right of every child (UN Rights of the Child) to go to school. Greg Mortenson and his team of helpers have done an amazing job and after reading Three Cups of Tea I truly believe that they have made life better for thousands of children by providing them not only with education and schools to learn in, but also health services and other public facilities.

Three Cups of Tea is an enlightening book that highlights how one person really can make a difference, and how big a difference they can make. In the book Greg quotes one of his favourite sayings from Mother Teresa, which sums up this philosophy well.

What we are trying to do is a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.

Links related to Three Cups of Tea:
Three Cups of Tea
Central Asia Institute
Pennies for Peace

Kenya's aid need

The violence in Kenya that resulted from the countries elections has created a humanitarian crisis that will only become more acute if the violence continues. An article by the BBC reports that 255,000 have been forced from their homes (UN warns Kenya aid need may grow) and that there is a growing risk of malnutrition.

The fragile nature of microfinance businesses and their location within communities that have been affected by the violence has most likely had an affect on these small businesses. According to and information they have obtained from their partners business is NOT running as usual (Kenya's humanitarian crisis).

It is sad to see that one of the most successful African nations has been affected by the spread of violence amongst its people. I hope that the main parties politicians and people with influence are able to avert any further violence that threatens the country. I also hope that the country can recover as quickly as possible so that business does return to normal, that people can return to their homes and the tourists continue to visit and thus support the country.

Some websites where you can find more information about what you can do to help include International Red Cross and the World Food Program.