Manhattan is a city filled with ten million stories, and I particularly felt that vibrancy last week. The UN was in session and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was also under way. Together these two organizations represent significant horsepower on behalf of the disadvantaged of the world.
At the UN’s Inclusive Finance: A Path to the MDGs luncheon, Hilary Clinton and the President of Honduras announced a program which, if adopted globally, could create a new source of pro-poor loans for everything from education to housing improvements in slums. The previous day at the CGI, Hilary led the charge with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves along with a bevy of partners. (That alliance requires a separate discussion which I hope to write about at a later point in time.)
Both of these efforts represent improved ways of solving social challenges. They incorporate government, NGOs and the private sector. They utilize disruptive innovations that have surfaced from a variety of sources but especially from social entrepreneurs and/or social innovations that have been created by combining private sector models with Global South entrepreneurship. Many of these ventures are using income derived from the Global North to help those less fortunate in the Global South. More examples will continue to appear as Global North companies and governments seek to achieve disruptive innovation in the Global South.
U. S. Under Secretary of State Maria Otero outlined the components needed to support more rapid deployment of these efforts:
1- Seek Investments from Multiple Sources. On display at SOCAP in San Francisco next week will be an entire ecosystem building around profitable problem solving. This ecosystem includes philanthropists and foundations joining forces with for profit social entrepreneurs.
2- Innovation Sourcing (as outlined above.)
3- Scaling Platforms. The platforms needed are technological as well as new models built on existing assets. These include combinations of banking, remittance and microfinance assets and can be used to create a pro-poor engine to attack poverty. Affordable Housing Institute is a good example of that approach, embedding slum upgrading banks into innovative microfinance institutions (MFIs) to convert informal housing to formal housing throughout the Global South.
4- Policy Initiatives. Identify what policy changes are needed to remove road blocks and/or leverage incentives that relocate talent and capital into sectors that have demonstrated platform innovation potential. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is in the process of doing that now.
5- Rigorous Analysis and Measurement.
6- Leadership. The kind of leadership needed is open to innovation from any partner, at any moment, and is obsessive about migrating innovation to everyone and every life, globally.
These guidelines are already informing new innovations that have surfaced in countless conversations we have had recently. We will have more to say about many of these ideas in the future.