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Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

The Answer

….that no single key, no formula can, in principle, solve the problems of individuals or societies; that general solutions are not solutions, universal ends are never real ends….

…that liberty–of actual individuals, in specific times and places–is an absolute value; that a minimum area of free action is a moral necessity for all men, not to be suppressed in the name of abstractions or general principles so freely bandied about by the great thinkers of

Also posted in Big ideas, Grand plans and aid targets | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

How NYU will save New York, and other entrepreneurial insights

Wonderful article by Ed Glaeser in City Journal on how entrepreneurs are the heroes of New York’s success, from the days of pre-Civil War packet shipping and sugar refining, then the garment business, and more recently the Great Finance Sector.

OK that last one looks a little shaky right now, but Ed talks about how something new always comes along if the city just manages to hold on to enough entreprenurs to find the…

Also posted in In the news | Tagged | 1 Comment

Is it easier to start an NGO than a business in Haiti?

From today’s NYT:

Alain Armand, 36, a Haitian-American lawyer from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who is now trying to open several businesses here in Port-au-Prince, the capital, including a bed and breakfast.

Trying is the operative word, he said: “It costs $3,000, and it takes at least three months to get incorporated. There is no organized structure in which we, outsiders to NGO-land, can operate.”

Meanwhile, one list for Haiti lists 822 NGOs operating.

Tagged | 13 Comments

Rwanda’s coffee success story

A walking tour through some of the trendiest coffee shops in the NYU vicinity reveals a common element: creatively packaged, expensive Rwandan coffee for sale.

Given our long-standing interest in 1) good coffee and 2) the potential of entrepreneurship for development, this phenomenon clearly merited investigation. The work of Karol Boudreaux, who has been following the Rwandan coffee sector for several years, helps to sketch the outlines of a partially donor-funded development success story…

Also posted in Big ideas, History, Trade | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Time for toilet deregulation?

UPDATE 10:34AM, 4/16 SEE END OF POST

Right now, India has more cell phones than toilets. That’s the headline buzzing over the wires today, thanks to the latest phones-to-toilets ratio released by the United Nations. It’s certainly a dramatic factoid. But it’s not just true of India’s 1.2 billion-strong population — this lopsided statistic is true around the globe, as well.

This is from the Change.org Global Poverty blog. The most obvious explanation:

And

Also posted in Big ideas, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

You want cell phone entrepreneurs, we’ll give you cell phone entrepreneurs

Last week we posted some cool maps showing the spread of cell phones especially in Africa over the last decade. We called this “a triumph of bottom-up entrepreneurial success,” but you weren’t convinced. You thought it was foreign direct investment (FDI). Provide more evidence that entrepreneurs are part of this picture, you said. Aid Watch never declines a challenge:

1) OK, it’s true that 52 percent of the African Market is dominated by

Also posted in Big ideas, Maps | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Who ya gonna call? Entrepreneurs!

Just a decade ago it seemed we were stuck with landlines. State-owned telephone companies were largely entrenched, sclerotic organizations that provided poor, delayed, or simply unavailable service —even in some rich European countries, and nearly universally in poor countries.

These maps (with data from 2001, 2004, and 2008) show how cell phones have quickly bypassed the dysfunctional landline companies and emerged as a triumph of bottom-up entrepreneurial success.

The measure is cell phone subscribers per 100 population,…

Also posted in Big ideas, Data and statistics, Maps | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Gujarati hotels and Chaldean liquor stores

UPDATE 2 (3/27, 8:24am EDT) Great academic paper on Jewish domination of the diamond trade (see end of post)

UPDATE (3/26, 12:34EDT) Great NYT mag article explaining the details of the Gujarati hotel story (see end of post)

I’ve long been fascinated by the Vietnamese nail salon phenomenon. My female friends report a remarkably high concentration of Vietnamese women in nail salons in US cities. I even heard there was a nail trade magazine for…

Also posted in Academic research, Economics principles, Migration | Tagged | 16 Comments

Afghans and social entrepreneurs improvise when official aid fails

From the blog FabFi (HT to blog Whirled Citizen)

{A} World Bank funded infrastructure project to bring internet connectivity to Afghanistan began more than SEVEN YEARS ago and only made its first international link this June. That project, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, is still far from being complete.

{Meanwhile} the Fabbed Long-Range Wireless Antenna Project, … as of December 2008 is working on an installation in Jalalabad Afghanistan.

Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Set a Big Goal. Give All to Meet It. This is Stupid.

The first two sentences come out of thousands of commencement addresses, not to mention inspirational foreign aid addresses. But they’re bad advice.

Social entrepreneurs in foreign aid might learn from private sector entrepreneurs, who don’t stick to fixed goals.

A University of Illinois graduate moved to Silicon Valley with a great goal (perhaps inspired by the Illini commencement address) – develop security software for hot-selling handheld devices like the Palm Pilot. He assumed that enterprises…

Also posted in Aid policies and approaches, Big ideas, Books and book reviews | Tagged , | 8 Comments