A few years ago I read C.K. Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, a stunning book about how development can take place and successful economies can emerge even in the poorest of places. Prahalad presents case after case of how companies conducted research and supported innovations at a cost point that helped foster products that could serve some of the desperately poor populations in the world.
The other day my friend John McArthur twittered about this company – which has invented a Permethrin laced mosquito bed net guaranteed to last at least five years (testing shows it often lasts 7). Better yet, it is significantly stronger than polyester nets being both tear-proof, wash-proof and never requiring treatment.
This alone would be a great news story. But it is the economy behind the net that is equally exciting. The manufacturing of the Olyset Net is creating jobs in Africa:
Production in Africa began in 2003 when Sumitomo Chemical provided a royalty-free technology license to A to Z Textile Mills in Arusha, Tanzania. Tanzanian production was further expanded in 2008 when Sumitomo Chemical celebrated the official opening of a 50:50 joint venture factory, expanding our partnership with A to Z in East Africa. From 2009, global production capacity will exceed 40 million nets per annum, with around 50% manufactured in Africa. Furthermore, Sumitomo Chemical has recently committed to expanding production into Nigeria, the African country with the greatest malaria burden. Once production is established in Nigeria, global capacity will be 60 million Olyset nets.
The news section of the website has still more good news. A Sumitomo Chemical Partnership with an Ethiopian Business will create 300 jobs in Kombolcha, Ethiopia. Is this development? Or is it Foreign Direct Investment creating jobs, feeding the African economy and helping solving one of the greatest scourges on the continent.
If you find this compelling, take a look at John’s newest Huffington Post piece where he outlines the new research and study Masters program he and Millennium Promise are helping create around the world.