- Looking for somewhere to invest? Next Billion recently covered an Economist article which spotlighted Africa as a potential place for your hard earned cash. While asking you to look at entire continent doesn’t exactly narrow your choices down, they do provide some interesting commentary– including the latest World Bank findings which showed that 78% of Sub-Sahara Africa countries improved their business regulatory environments in 2011. Also there is more on the role of China – “The country has signed bilateral trade agreements with 45 African nations (and) made investments in 49. The Chinese government provides enormous support to businesses engaging with the continent, and does so without pesky regulations like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to curtail back-room deals with shady officials.” In Ghana and Nepal I saw countless examples of essential infrastructure – roads, hydro power stations, telecommunications systems – being built by Chinese workers who could barely speak English, let alone the native language. And yet they were getting it done. Without “programs”, NGOs, subsidies, (shady back room deals aside). The entrepreneurial spirit of these individuals, the risks they were taking and how willing they were just throw everything in and see what happened was beyond inspiring to me.
- On Monday one of my bucket list items was to pick a list of best books and read every single one. Well, I don’t know that I’m going to make EVERY single one, but I’ve picked my list and it’s here. A podcast which highlights a much more manageable selection is here. I’ll pick out some for review during the year.
- I’ve met some interesting companies over the last few weeks – Project Alba, a start-go agricultural NGO with big plans (“why not target 2 billion farmers?”), YEJJ Group – who are thinking about a Green Building Council for Cambodia and PATH, a global healthcare NGO. PATH’s take on selling the Bottom of the Pyramid (poor people) is fascinating. They are selling water filters to Cambodia families. They made the product look less like a bucket and more like something you’d see in an office – and sales went through the roof. And all this despite an almost doubling in price. People will pay for something they aspire to own, was the message.
- Just recently I went to a pretty exclusive gym here in Phnom Penh. What made me think it was exclusive? The sign on the door – “No bodyguards, no weapons”.
I’ll be Jakarta for a week starting tomorrow and then will head on to West Kalimantan to work with Good Return’s partner CUKK. If you know anyone around let me know!