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Can Silicon Valley Save the World?
posted by infini on Jul 1, 2013 - 43 comments

They deserve better

The poor in America: In need of help Some 15% of Americans (around 46.2m people) live below the poverty line, as Ms Hamilton does. You have to go back to the early 1960s—before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programmes—to find a significantly higher rate. Many more, like Ms Dunham, have incomes above the poverty line but nevertheless cannot meet their families’ basic monthly needs, and there are signs that their number is growing. Once upon a time the fates of these people weighed heavily on American politicians. Ronald Reagan boasted about helping the poor by freeing them from having to pay federal income tax. Jack Kemp, Bob Dole’s running-mate in 1996, sought to spearhead a “new war on poverty.” George W. Bush called “deep, persistent poverty…unworthy of our nation’s promise”. No longer. Budgets are tight and the safety net is expensive. Mitt Romney famously said he was not “concerned about the very poor” because they have a safety net to take care of them. Mr Obama’s second-term plan mentioned poverty once, and on the trail he spoke gingerly of “those aspiring to the middle class”. “Poor” is a four-letter word.
posted by infini on Nov 8, 2012 - 23 comments

The bottom of the pyramid

U.S. Poverty Rate, 1 in 6, at Highest Level in Years (NYT) - An additional 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, census officials said, making 46.2 million people in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch. That represented 15.1 percent of the country. The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four. (related)
posted by infini on Sep 13, 2011 - 121 comments

The storm in a designer teacup

Bruce Nussbaum kicked off a minor hubbub in designa circles this week with his provocative article "Is Humanitarian Design the new Imperialism?" which led to this response by Frogdesign's Robert Fabricant "In Defense of Design Imperialism" and WorldChanging's Alex Steffen's "The Problem with Design: Imperialism or thinking too small?" and finally a whole slew of blog posts, opinions and commentary artfully collated here by the editors of Design Observer. But the question still remains unanswered...
posted by infini on Jul 17, 2010 - 85 comments

words fail me

CK Prahalad, Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Corporate Strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business in the University of Michigan passed away on 16th April 2010 after a brief illness. His core competency was strategic insight and vision and his legacy to the world, the concept of the Bottom of the Pyramid, which changed the way big business viewed the teeming, huddled poverty stricken masses of the former third world as micro-innovators, micro-producers and so, micro-consumers in their own right. Among others, his work inspired Ratan Tata as the Nano turned conventional wisdom of automobile manufacturing on its head and paved the way for Indian industry to focus on the high volume/low margin potential of their domestic market. In 2009, he was named the "world's most influential thinker" . Though not uncriticized for his theories on the Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, one can acknowledge his role in overcoming the "tyranny of dominant logic" that the poor should not simply be recipients of charity but demanding customers in challenging environments. RIP, sir. {previously, previously}
posted by infini on Apr 17, 2010 - 14 comments

If information is power, then access is empowering

In a recent Roundtable on Creative Capitalism hosted by TIME, CK Prahalad, author of "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" brings to our attention the insight that "the essence of poverty is the assymetry of information" and that this asymmetry was now changing due to the availability and affordability of mobile phones in developing nations. Jeffery Sachs supports him by pointing out that the digital divide was being closed by market forces not civic efforts. Global leader Nokia has already leapt into the breach by opening a Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya in order to develop concepts and products that are of value and relevance for those at the Base of the Pyarmid. The ubiquitious little cellphone has now been spotlighted as a key tool for poverty alleviation, although the debate continues. [previously]
posted by infini on Aug 27, 2008 - 57 comments

Voices of Africa

"Thanks to tremendous progress achieved by the General Packet Radio System (GPRS), the wireless communication protocol, it is now possible for Africans to send articles and images (still and moving) about events taking place in their countries without using a computer and without having internet connection. Under those circumstances, the bigger the number of people expressing their opinions through that technology, the stronger becomes democracy, and the more valuable is the contribution to good governance efforts in Africa" - Voices of Africa, Mobile stories and videos from Africa. Quote above from article Mobile Reporters in Africa.
posted by infini on Jul 27, 2007 - 11 comments

More than just profits, part two

FabIndia becomes a Harvard Business Case study It's a brand that does not advertise. It, in fact, celebrates the success of its copycats. And now Fabindia, the craft-conscious enterprise, is a Harvard Business School (HBS) case study. "Founded in 1960, Fabindia makes the cut for being an example of a corporation that does not just aim to do well, but does good too. "A strong mission can be both an opportunity and a constraint on the growth of a firm," points out Dr Khaire. However, the private retailer's unique value proposition has not come in the way of it being recognised as big brand today. And this in spite of the fact that Fabindia has never advertised, points out Dr Khaire."
posted by infini on Apr 15, 2007 - 8 comments

Is there anybody out there...

Bridging the digital divide - The ubiquitious cellphone has been recognized as a key tool for the social and economic development for many at the bottom of the pyramid - Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Yunus' GrameenPhone received an award in a category that didn't exist last year - "Best Use of Mobile for Social & Economic Development" for their Healthline project at the recently concluded 3GSM Congress in Barcelona last week. Another winner was the ultra low cost Motofone which was designed after two years of research into the needs of the rural and urban poor in India. We need many more such applications available for the "other 4 billion" if this bridge is to be built across the divide.
posted by infini on Feb 19, 2007 - 37 comments

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