Posts Tagged ‘Social responsibility’

Book Review: Confessions of a microfinance heretic

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Sinclair, Hugh. Confessions of a microfinance heretic : how microlending lost its way and betrayed the poor. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2012.

Microfinance pioneer and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus was the commencement speaker at Duke University in 2010 and he has been involved with Fuqua’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship since 2004.  The renowned “Banker to the Poor” has been one of the most successful social entrepreneurs of our time, beginning in 1976, when he loaned $26 to 42 women in rural Bangladesh to enable them to purchase bamboo to make and sell stools.   In 1983, he founded Grameen Bank to provide similar loans on a larger scale.  Soon after, international NGO’s with missions to serve the poor added microfinance programs as a simple and effective way to break the cycle of poverty.

Beginning in 2005, microfinance lenders began shifting their status as nonprofit organizations to commercial enterprises.  To make a profit on their loans, these MFI’s (microfinance institutions) raised interest rates – up to 100% in some cases — and hired aggressive loan collectors to hound borrowers– to the point of suicide for some.  In 2011, Yunus wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, “I never imagined that one day microcredit would give rise to its own breed of loan sharks.”

In a new book, Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic, author Hugh Sinclair agrees.  Using his experience over 10 years with several MFI’s, he shows that what began as a good idea has been hijacked by large investors and banks.

In this fly-on-the-wall account, Sinclair begins his story in 2002 as a new MBA graduate from IESE in Barcelona, who accepts an offer as a consultant with an MFI in Mexico.  At the time, the industry is small, but through Sinclair’s daily interactions with executives, coworkers and clients at various MFI’s over the next decade, Sinclair shows how shady practices emerge as the sector grows and changes into the modern $70 billion microfinance industry.  His story illustrates a wide range of problems. As currently practiced, microfinance is  ineffective and most loans are made to buy consumer goods or to repay another loan.  Interest rates are usually over 30%.  Children are pressed into labor to repay the loans.  Borrowers are not protected in their unregulated economy.  Sinclair concludes that profit incentives and lack of oversight allow most MFI’s to ignore the negative impact they have on poverty.  This engaging book is recommended for anyone interested in emerging markets or social entrepreneurship.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Book Review: Impact Investing

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

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Bugg-Levine, Antony. Impact investing : transforming how we make money while making a difference. Jossey-Bass, 2011.

This afternoon (Tuesday, December 6) at 4:00pm, the Fuqua School’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship is presenting the 2011 Leadership in Social Entrepreneurship Award to Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO of the Nonprofit Finance Fund.

Bugg-Levine is also author, with Jed Emerson, of Impact Investing, a new book  that describes how for-profit investments can help address social problems.  In Impact Investing, the authors outline a set of investment strategies that generate financial returns while intentionally improving social and environmental conditions.

Instead of viewing management of financial assets as a tradeoff between social and financial results, the authors show how investors can take an integrated approach, generating a blend of values of shareholders and stakeholders alike.   Impact Investing is an optimistic view of what can be achieved when financial assets are managed in unison with values and beliefs.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Book Review: KaBoom!

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

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Hammond, Darell. KaBOOM! : how one man built a movement to save play. Rodale Books : Macmillan, 2011.

Darell Hammond, CEO and founder of KaBOOM!, is speaking in Geneen Auditorium at Fuqua at 6:30 on Tuesday 10/4 to discuss the challenges he faced in growing his nonprofit from a 2 person startup to a national organization, which leverages the power of local communities to construct playgrounds in disadvantaged neighborhoods.  Since 1995, he has raised $200 million and constructed 2,000 playgrounds throughout the US.  Hammond is also the author of a new book titled KaBOOM! about his life, career and company.

Hammond begins his book with a description of his childhood where he has a rough start, one of 8 children abandoned by his father.  Yet he thrives under the discipline and guidance in a group home near Chicago.  He describes his early career – the people he meets and the experiences they share, which help him develop the principles that guide KaBOOM! today.

For Hammond, the process of building the playgrounds is as important as the end product.  KaBOOM! provides the tools, resources and guidance for each project, but the local community is also involved, organizing the project, soliciting funds, and providing the labor.   When the project is complete, the volunteers experience a sense of pride in their accomplishment.  They are transformed into a community working for positive change.  They continue to maintain the playground for the children and they apply the planning and organizational skills to other projects in the community.

Written with passion and commitment, this is a story about the power of an individual to be a force for good in the world.  It is also a chronicle of an entrepreneur who develops a business model, nurtures his organizations expansion and standardizes the process and procedures.  Without formal management training, he makes mistakes and describes what he learns from them.  This engaging book offers practical points on social enterprise.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Book Review: Start Something That Matters

Monday, September 19th, 2011

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Mycoskie, Blake. Start something that matters. Spiegel & Grau, 2011.

In this interesting and readable account , a young man decides to live a life of meaning by pursuing his passion, and by devoting himself to a social cause while simultaneously earning a living.  In the book Start Something that Matters, author Blake Mycoskie tells the story of TOM’S One for One, a start-up shoe company that gives one pair of shoes to a poor child for every pair sold to first world customers.

The story begins when Mycoskie, a 29 year old entrepreneur on vacation in Argentina, notices that few impoverished rural children there wear shoes.  With no experience in the retail business or in the footwear industry, Mycoskie learns to design, manufacture and sell Argentine alpargatas (espadrilles) for the US market.  The shoes become fashionable with young people, and at the end of the first five years, a million pairs of shoes have been given to destitute children in South America.

Mycoskie shares his story to encourage others to start something that matters and to lead a life of meaning.  He shares practical tips for getting started and discusses principles for sustaining the company.  He also tells the stories of other entrepreneurs who have led lives that mattered.  This inspirational book is about one man who created a movement and made a difference to a million impoverished children.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Book Reviews: Do Business with Soul

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Three new titles focus on combining profit and higher purpose. Business and investing can have a soul, and make a positive difference.

Click the titles below for information on location and availability.

  • The HIP investor : make bigger profits by building a better world. by R. Paul Herman. Wiley, 2010.
    HIP stands for Human Impact + Profit, an investment approach that realizes the profits that capitalists seek while building a better world. The creator of the HIP methodology shows investors how to construct a portfolio of firms that meets five basic human needs and, in doing so, generates positive social impact, while simultaneously providing substantial financial returns. The book claims that the HIP approach outperforms the financial returns of the S&P in both up and down markets.
  • Zilch : the power of zero in business. by Nancy Lublin. Portfolio, 2010.
    Nonprofit CEO Lublin describes how corporations can cut costs and improve results by emulating not-for-profit organizations. Nonprofits survive — and thrive — on a shoestring, by using innovation, creativity and passion. Drawing on the experiences of key not-for-profit organizations, both large and small, Lublin provides practical advice on topics such as how to motivate staff without high salaries and how to market products and services for free.
  • The art of giving : where the soul meets a business plan. by Charles Bronfman & Jeffrey Solomon. Jossey-Bass, 2010.
    In the new philanthropy, donors seek to make a difference. They give purposefully, think strategically and monitor the results. Giving is a deeply personal process but it is also a business. This comprehensive guide to charitable giving shows nonprofits how to communicate with donors to help them make meaningful choices with their gifts. It also helps donors decide what types of gifts to give, how to structure their donations and how to manage tax issues.

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

The Future of Capitalism

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

The lecture, “Building a Sustainable Energy Future: Market Approaches to Choices and Trade-offs” will be held today; Thursday, November 5th from 4–6 p.m. in Geneen Auditorium.

This is the first of a four-part series and represents a joint collaboration between the Fuqua School of Business and McKinsey Quarterly.  The series will consist of forums on the following areas:  energy, the financial system, globalization and business education.

Check out some of these new titles from the Ford Library on sustainability (click on a link to place a hold or check availability). Or come browse our Sustainability display at the front of the library:

Book Review: The Big Squeeze

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

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The big squeeze : tough times for the American worker by Steven Greenhouse. Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.

For MBA students, the news over the past decade has been good. Employment opportunities have increased. Executive salaries have risen sharply. Corporate profits have soared. But for millions of workers, the news has been bad. For many, wages have stagnated. Heath and pension benefits have been cut back. And job security has disappeared.

While the American economy, corporate profits and worker productivity grew robustly, the median income for nonelderly households remained flat. Worker productivity climbed 60% but the hourly wage increased only 1% after inflation. In the economic expansion, the size of the pie increased, but the worker did not get a bigger piece.

The Big Squeeze explains what has been happening in the workplace. Weaving personal stories of workers with economic facts and data, author Greenhouse, labor correspondent for the New York Times, creates a disturbing picture of the economic environment for workers.

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

Friday, September 12th, 2008

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Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations… One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Penguin (2007).

After author Greg Mortenson failed in his attempt to climb to the summit of K2, the world’s second tallest mountain, he began his descent. He became lost, disoriented and dangerously ill but stumbled upon an impoverished Pakistani village named Korphe, where he stayed for seven weeks among the Balti people who looked after him. As he left, he promised to return and build a school for them. This is the story of his work to fulfill that promise, and of his success in building 50 other schools for girls in Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s poorest communities.

In this personal story about globalism, Mortenson portrays the lives of village elders, mujahideen and Taliban officials in this remote area of the world. He argues that the US must fight Islamic extremism in the region by collaborating to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, particularly for girls. It is also a story about a meaningful life created by one committed person, a mountain climber who became a humanitarian.

Also available in audiobook format at Ford Library.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business. All rights reserved.

Book Review: Forces for Good

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

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Crutchfield, Leslie R. and Heather McLeod Grant. Forces for good : the six practices of high-impact nonprofits. Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Each day, my mother’s mailbox contains a dozen or so letters from nonprofits, soliciting financial support. She selects one or two to support and for the rest, she writes the date on the envelopes and files them chronologically in a box. In her basement, boxes of these letters date back to the 1970’s. She intends to support those organizations eventually — once she determines those that do the greatest good. But how to know which nonprofits have the greatest impact?

Forces for Good provides a rigorous and analytical look into extraordinary nonprofits and how they create large-scale social change. The authors surveyed thousands of nonprofit CEO’s and conducted more than 75 interviews to identify six practices that are essential for achieving significant results. For any non-profit, the secret to success is to mobilize outside groups, such as government and business, to be a force for good. Greatness has more to do with how nonprofits work outside the boundaries of their organizations than how they manage their own internal operations.