Tag Archives: Millennium-development-goals

Innovation at the Bottom of the Pyramid: The Olyset Net in Africa

BoP-200x300A 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.

Olyset-netThe 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.

Jeffrey Sachs, My Dad, and the Millennium Villages

Jeffrey Sachs wrote this great oped in yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen. In his piece he talks about the Millennium Villages which I think are just about the coolest thing to happen in development aid in a long, long, time. As the website describes:

“The Millennium Villages seek to end extreme poverty by working with the poorest of the poor, village by village throughout Africa, in partnership with governments and other committed stakeholders, providing affordable and science-based solutions to help people lift themselves out of extreme poverty.”

In short, Millennium Villages are test labs. Rather then start big, projects start small, see what works and then scale up. It’s a simple concept, which is, in part, why it is so smart.

Sadly, I’m not sure I have any useful skills to help the Millennium Village project directly. So I got online and donated $100 and dedicated it to my dad for Father’s Day (which, until Chiara B. reminded me, is this Sunday). Why $100? Because, as Sachs pointed out with an Economist quote:

“With an annual budget amounting to $50 a head administered by a UN team consisting mainly of bright young Kenyans, the Sauri villagers have apparently seen their rate of malaria go down from 43 per cent to 11 per cent (due to the provision of bed nets), while school results have leapt (due partly to proper lunches). Maize production has soared five-fold (due mainly to fertilizers) and receipts for crop sales have steadied thanks to a cereal bank.”

I liked the notion of donating in a $50 increments – it means you can measure ‘lives impacted.’ So is my dad saving the world? No. But he’s made the lives of two villagers in Mbola, Tanzania a whole lot better. And that’s a start. More importantly, the work he’s supporting is making it possible to assess how to help still more people more effectively. I know the scientist and the business man in him will be pleased.

So… if you have a dad – and I’m pretty sure at one point we all did(!) – here’s one good choice for a father’s day gift…

You can get to the donation page by clicking here.