Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Month: March 2017

Student Research: Behind the Numbers: Finding Success in Impact Investing

by McKenzie Smith (MIB 2017)

In their 2016 Investor’s Survey, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) reported that 99% of respondents are meeting or exceeding their impact targets, whereas 89% would say the same for financial returns. As with many statistics, this near-perfect success made me wonder about the anecdotes behind the numbers, and the conversations that followed with professors, peers, and practitioners in the impact investing space formed the foundation of my capstone.

Recent research by the GIIN shows that impact data drives business value through five key channels, and other work has focused on just how impact investors are measuring impact. Still others argue for the use of impact classes to bring clarity to how we discuss impact, but few have focused on best practices for actively managing impact performance. As my conversations evolved, my list of questions grew.
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What’s in a name?
by Imad Ahmed (MIB 2011)

Disputes over the Indus waters divide the Republic of India and Pakistan. There is talk of talks in Lahore this month between the countries’ representatives. Recognising shared historical identity stemming from the river could bring people of the two nations closer, and facilitate smoother discussions in the long term.

Read the full piece in Pakistan Today

Early Lessons from India’s Demonetization Experiment

Did India just pull off a monetary and political miracle?

Consider the sequence of events in its demonetization saga. In November the government made a high-risk, high-stakes economic intervention in the world’s largest democracy, with an objective to reduce corruption. Overnight, 86% of cash in circulation was voided. In a country almost 90% cash reliant, chaos ensued. As I said at the time, it was a case study in poor policy and even poorer execution.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in Harvard Business Review

How Companies Can Champion Sustainable Development

Given political climates around the world and a new wariness around international cooperation, the private sector could find itself in the hot seat: trying to pick up the slack on big issues from climate change to sustainable development. This demand for taking on a larger role may come not only from advocacy and watchdog groups but also from customers, investors, partners, and employees.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in the Harvard Business Review

The Digital Demands of the Displaced: Don’t track me, don’t expose me, don’t cut me off

by Kim Wilson, CEME Senior Fellow & Lecturer, The Fletcher School

Predictably, the long tentacles of financial inclusion have coiled themselves around the most vulnerable targets of humanitarian aid: low income refugees, migrants and displaced populations (hereon: “refugees”).

Just as predictably, the financial inclusion agenda is driven by suppliers (aid providers, donors, financial intermediaries and governments). Few refugees are demanding to be included in a digital/formal ecosystem. That does not mean they don’t appreciate the shelter, food and cash that humanitarian agencies have mustered on their behalf. They do. They also appreciate the efforts of those same agencies to make cash assistance easier. E-cash that can be transformed into physical cash at convenient times and places is an example. Use of debit cards at ATMs to withdraw cash from digital accounts can cut valuable time otherwise spent waiting in long cash distribution queues. Very appreciated, indeed.

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Seize The Year: And Now For All The Non-Trump News Crowded Out in 2017

It is already the start of the third month of 2017. We have been so absorbed with the daily barrage of news from Washington DC and Mar-a-Lago, and news about news, both fake and real, that it seems all other headlines have been crowded out. So much else needs to be done in 2017 to create the headlines we would like to see in the months ahead. It is time to “carpe annum”, to seize the year.

No doubt, 2017 will live in the long shadow of 2016. We must also find ways to take stock and push beyond the shadows. Of the many from which to pick, we found 5 developments from the past year worth noting in its impact on our work ahead.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

Student Research: Stronger Links: Strengthening the adaptive capacity of Guatemala’s coffee supply chain

by Adam Houston (MIB 2017)

A leaf affected by drought and coffee rust at high altitude in Chimaltenango district

As the climate changes, so will the coffee industry. In Guatemala in particular, the amount of suitable land for growing coffee and the livelihoods of thousands are projected to change profoundly due to climate change. According to current models, increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, increased temperatures, and extended reach of traditionally lower-altitude diseases like coffee rust are likely to be proof of this change, reducing yields for approximately 93% of Guatemala’s current coffee growing land by the year 2050. As the country’s third largest export, this threat to coffee will have a very real economic affect on the country’s GDP; the ability — or lack thereof —  to adapt to these predicted changes will threaten the livelihoods of the more than 100,000 largely smallholder coffee producers. Without the financial means or technical knowledge to adapt to a changing climate, or even a more basic recognition of the gravity of the threat itself, the entire value chain of the Guatemalan coffee industry faces a bleak future.

To better assess the links among actors in this value chain, I traveled to Guatemala to interview smallholder farmers, large-scale farmers, exporters, traders, and experts in the country’s national coffee association, Anacafe. These cases help paint a more holistic picture of what the greatest obstacles are to better adaptation as a form of prevention.

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