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April 3, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

Supporting High Impact Organizations in the Developing World

Finding Solutions to Poverty at the Base of the Pyramid

Six organizational & design models which are instructive:

1. International Development Enterprises (IDE)
Paul Polak explains the math with different numbers in a recent Mother Jones interview:
“So you invest $12 million to get the market going, farmers invest $37
million, and they end up earning $150 million a year in new income.”

And of course that income occurs year over year–so there is not only a quick turn around on return on investment (from a social impact perspective) and a multiplier effect for however long the treadle pumps last.

Heres the MoJo article:

2. Kickstart:
$1 of donation = $15 of profit

3. Microfinance (Grameen & BRAC models, as well as Kiva above). Micro-insurance is also an interesting field of social innovation.

4. Clean Water (Both clean water wells & sanitation as a mutually reinforcing solution). I don’t know of any entrepreneurial orgs taking this on except those that sell water, but the lessons from Charity Water here are quite impressive in the context of provision of water services:

5. Root Capital-connects developing world entrepreneurs to companies in the developed world (sustainable sourcing for instance with Starbucks coffee)

6. Somasource

I would divide the million dollars proportionally between these 6 organizations above.

Three other models to explore & look at:
1. Rainer Fellows
(includes Somasource, Komaza, One Acre Fund, Nuru International & others)

2. Acumen Fund

3. Various design for the other 90 percent innovations–but many are low cost solutions, when appropriately applied to the context
(note some have not been deemed successful by development professionals ie One Laptop Per Child & the Lifestraw):

Finding Solutions to Poverty at the Base of the Pyramid: Part II
I’ll admit the dividing it between the orgs. evenly is a bit arbitrary. However, many of the orgs support different sectors–so irrespective of which has the most impact–supporting each of the critical sectors is important (health, water, and entrepreneurship) to holistic impact. I think Nuru International is a good example of that

I would actually have to add One World Health to the list:
as well as Paul Farmer’s Partner’s in Health:

On the flip side–just giving to health orgs. means you risk creating sustainability–probably dependency. Giving to orgs which get them on their feet means you can move your support away in 3 to 5 years (perhaps longer). None the less, you are more likely to multiply your money by increasing their income (aka entrepreneurship or agriculture–which is functionally the same thing) AND health. Not just one or the other.

Each of the orgs. on my list is recognized in the international development, humanitarian org, and social enterprise field as high impact on a per dollar spend.

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