Events around the 72nd UN General Assembly

By Debdipto Biswas

The UN General Assembly (UNGA), an event of tremendous significance, is always supplemented by a host of consequential development events. This year, for the 72nd version of the UNGA, it is no different.

September 2017 will once more see New York City transform itself into a policy hub, and become a space where thought-provoking ideas are showcased. The notoriety is two-fold.  Not only is it a chance for practitioners, academics and development enthusiasts to exchange views, but it is an opportunity for everyone to drive positive, global change.

We have created a database to facilitate communal engagement in these pressing matters. Only through widespread interaction can beneficial world transformation really happen.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but we do hope it is a summer mainstay of yours! In addition, we warmly welcome you to suggest more events, whether that is through the comments section or by email: We look forward to hearing your recommendations and seeing you at many of these events.

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Dalberg Launches an Initiative to Support Start-Ups in Nairobi

By Valary Mumbo 

In recent years, Kenya has established itself as a centre for innovation, with a range of initiatives started in support of this culture. Incubators such as Nailab, iLab and iHub provide space for entrepreneurs to interact, bud and thrive. It’s from such incubators that a range of successful tech-based start-ups across sectors have led to the emergence of Kenya’s ‘Silicon Savanna’. In July 2015, in acknowledgement of the rising significance of entrepreneurship to the economy, the Kenyan and United States governments co-hosted the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi. The 2015 summit, which Dalberg helped organize, focused on generating new investments in entrepreneurs, start-upparticularly women and the youth. Furthermore, in the last two years the country has seen renowned entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Ma visit the country to identify ways in which they can get involved in the Kenyan entrepreneurial space and share insights from their entrepreneurial journey with individuals aiming to achieve similar success.

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What it Means to Lead Now: Social Impact Leaders Respond to Uncertain Times

By Daniella Ballou-Aares and Marcus Haymon

This is the first blog in a series looking at how social impact leaders are responding to recent political disruptions.

Massive global migration and the ongoing refugee crisis; disruptive technology increasing information access; and rapid job automation are contributing to profound social and economic changes.  Social impact leaders are used to shifting priorities and strategies as the social and economic landscape evolves; however, today, they are facing a political disruption of an unprecedented scale.

In the United States and Europe, upwards of 50% of citizens have lost faith in the political system and believe that our political institutions are failing. Amidst this rise in public distrust of political systems, new, populist leaders have emerged and enacted policy changes that have major social and economic ramifications for social impact organizations. In the United States, for example, the looming 2018 budget proposes threats to education, justice, science, and international exchange programs, and social impact leaders now feel the need to fill emerging billion dollar gaps with their millions.

Foundations and Corporations Are Starting to Respond

In a recent survey, roughly half of US Foundation CEOs polled believe that the recent presidential election will negatively impact their organization’s ability to achieve strategic goals, while another quarter have mixed feelings. Accordingly, ~50% of US Foundation CEOs report making – or planning to make – shifts to their goals or grant-making strategies, and we are seeing modest evidence of these changes in action. For example, the Doris Duke Foundation will deploy $2M to help build empathy between Muslim and non-Muslim communities using arts, while the Levi Strauss Foundation issued $1M in grants to support immigrants, minorities, and the LGBTQ community through various initiatives. Others, such as the California Endowment, plan to invest $25M over the next three years to protect safety net programs across the state. This renewed focus on the under-served is not unique to foundations: Google recently created a $4M fund to support immigration organizations

Beyond deploying grant dollars to support at-risk populations, some corporations are leveraging non-financial resources to operate within the rapidly shifting political context. From Amazon, which deployed its legal team to fight the executive order on immigration, to Paypal, which reversed a planned expansion into North Carolina following passage of the ‘bathroom bill’, we are seeing organizations taking a public stand on policy decisions that threaten their goals or values.

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Dalberg Hosts a Private Sector Week in Dar es Salaam Culminating in an Iftar Dinner for 150+ Business Leaders

As part of a Private Sector Week organized by the Dar es Salaam office, Dalberg, The Africa List and the CEO Roundtable hosted an Iftar dinner to celebrate Dalberg’s 10 years in Africa. The event kicked off a discussion on Tanzania’s future and the role that the private sector plays in building the economy while addressing issues that affect Tanzanians. More than 150 business leaders in Tanzania attended, representing a diverse range of sectors including finance and banking, telecoms, agribusiness and manufacturing.

Dalberg co-hosted the event with The Africa List and the CEO Roundtable. The Africa List is an invitation only private sector community that was set up with the belief that above all, the quality of leadership determines whether a company succeeds or fails. Currently active across five of Africa’s high growth countries – Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda and DRC – The Africa List was created to bring together the leaders responsible for the continent’s next decade of growth. The CEO roundtable of Tanzania (CEOrt) was founded in 2000 by a small group of CEOs and is a policy forum dialogue that now brings together over 100 leading companies doing business in Tanzania. The main objective of the forum is to have a platform through which industry leaders within the Tanzanian private sector can constructively engage with government, its development partners, and other stakeholders with a view of creating a more conducive environment for business to prosper and for the country to develop.

Dalberg Dar es Salaam’s Founding Partner – Devang Vussonji kicked off the discussion with reflections on Dalberg’s work on the continent (and in Tanzania) over the past decade and on the importance of “Big Bets” for Tanzania that would address the needs of off-grid societies.

He reflected, “We have seen a few catalytic developments in Africa in the past decade that we have been on the continent: most prominent has been the telecom revolution that has allowed us to connect even the most remote consumers to a digital ecosystem. This revolution has enabled the off-grid energy revolution that has allowed us to develop energy products for the 64% of people in Tanzania – who are unable to access energy through traditional infrastructure. These consumers of off-grid energy are off-grid in many other ways. They don’t have access to full bank branches that allow them to access finance, or to supermarket chains that allow them to access affordable household products, or to schools and hospitals…all of which are very expensive to develop for remote populations. Everyone attending this event is trying to tackle solutions for these populations.”

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“Day 1” Philanthropy Done Right – An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

By Rachna Saxena 

On June 15, 2017, Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, posted on Twitter a “request for ideas” for philanthropy. Rachna Saxena responds to his call for advice.

Dear Jeff –

Over the past 10 days, you have received over 40,000 messages with suggestions for your philanthropy strategy. Clearly, you have no shortage of ideas. However, the key to successful philanthropy lies not just in finding good ideas, but also in executing them well. Here are four recommendations for executing your strategy, incorporating the Day 1 principles that have made your businesses a success:

1)      Pick the right “right now” solution

While many solutions can help people “right now,” not all of these will achieve that elusive lasting impact. For instance, giving a meal to a malnourished child may diminish his hunger today, but he will still face malnutrition tomorrow. However, there are key inflection points in individuals’ lives during which a short-term solution can actually prevent long-term suffering, and thus have lasting impact. For instance, think about evictions caused by unexpected financial difficulties such as a medical emergency. When a family is evicted from its home, this can begin a downward spiral that makes it difficult to keep kids in school or hold down a job. The eviction affects credit scores, making it harder to receive financial support in the future. In addition, landlords are often reluctant to rent to individuals that have been evicted in the past.  But what if these families received small loans or grants to cover these emergencies and avoid eviction? A small-scale, seemingly short-term solution like a cash transfer, provided at a critical juncture, can actually bring about lasting impact for these families.

2)      Scale your impact by addressing structural challenges

And yet, while a solution such as a cash transfer can help an individual family, it is not enough. There are millions of renters facing eviction in the US; even if you provided a cash transfer to each one of them, it would not stop evictions from happening to others the next month. But what if you combined short-term interventions with additional solutions that addressed the underlying structural challenges? Creating financial management support services for at-risk households to help them prepare for unexpected expenditures, building more affordable housing, or offering legal support for renters in housing court could all address the structural drivers of eviction. By combining short-term interventions that have lasting impact on individuals with “longer-term” solutions that address these structural challenges, your impact can be amplified.

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Looking to the Past to Help Shape the Future of Work

By Diptesh Soni and Devang Vussonji

The debate around the future of jobs is a polarised one: on the one hand, there are the pessimists, who believe we should prepare now for a world of no work. On the other are the optimists, who see the current challenges within global labour markets as a mere blip in a long-term trend of growing prosperity and employment. But neither of these outcomes is predetermined, and neither perspective is entirely new.

Many of the changes we are seeing today have occurred in some way, shape, or form before. Previous periods of technological disruption have typically led to creative destruction (e.g. replacement of music cassettes by CDs and eventually by mp3 files), widespread job displacement, and reactive populist politics.

It was the responses of civil society, policymakers, and their market counterparts that shaped how we went from doom and gloom to labour market boom. And it will be the decisions of their contemporaries that shape the future of work in the coming decades.

Each era of mass disruption and displacement is different from the last. Today, change is happening on a grander scale, much faster than it ever has before.

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[Podcast] Discussion on Entrepreneurship to Celebrate a Decade of Dalberg in Africa

Is entrepreneurship going to create the mass-scale jobs we need, or should we give up the notion that those that have the most reason to be risk averse should be the ones leading the charge on risk loving new business ventures?

On Tuesday May 30, Dalberg hosted a discussion in Johannesburg centred around entrepreneurship in celebration of our 10th official anniversary on the African continent and the launch of the book 17 Big Bets for a Better World. A panel of business leaders and entrepreneurs – including Ashish Thakkar of the Mara Group; Thema Baloyi of Discovery Insure; Pavlo Phitidis of Aurik Investment Holdings; Maryana Iskander of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator; Samuel Mensah of Kisua; James Mwangi of Dalberg –  discussed the role of entrepreneurship in driving inclusive growth.

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[Podcast] Nneka Eze on Catalyzing Growth in Nigeria Through Regional Innovation Hubs

In a World Bank podcast, Nneka Eze, Partner and Lagos Office Director, discusses a recent project Dalberg worked on with the Office of the Vice-President of Nigeria to understand the state of innovation in the country, and the potential of innovation hubs. From analysis of global innovation hubs, Nneka explains that there are seven different types of innovation hubs – ranging from science and technology parks, to accelerators, and research centres – and four guiding principles that differentiate successful hubs.

When looking at Nigeria specifically, Nneka explains that while innovation hubs should play a critical role in building the innovation ecosystem, significant gaps still exist around infrastructure, policy, and financing. These gaps must be addressed to unlock the full potential of entrepreneurs and innovators in the country.

Listen to the podcast.

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Vanishing Vaquita: Saving the World’s Most Endangered Marine Mammal

By Simon Allan and Ellie Marsh

A little known marine mammal found in northwest Mexico has been gaining global press attention for weeks now – and for good reason. The vaquita – a small porpoise known as the “panda of the sea” due to the distinctive black circles around its eyes – is on the verge of extinction. With less than 30 vaquitas left in the wild, a new Dalberg authored report for WWF finds that the vaquita could become extinct by the middle of 2018, without immediate action to curb illegal fishing and wildlife trafficking.

The vaquita population has been decimated in recent years, falling by 90% since 2011. The vaquitas’ decline has been accelerated by the world’s growing demand for fish which has led to increased use of gillnets, among other unsustainable and often illegal fishing practices. Gillnets, which are hung vertically in the sea to catch fish by their gills, have been adopted by fishers to increase their catch size. But gillnets and associated practices hugely increase the unintentional bycatch of other species. In particular, the vaquita has been a bycatch victim of illegal fishing for totoaba – a fish whose swim bladder is highly prized in Asian markets not only for traditional medicine but also as a Chinese delicacy. Despite gillnets being temporarily banned in Mexico in 2015, the decline of the vaquita has continued due to illegal fishing.

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New Report: Decentralised Renewable Energy is Important for Improving Access to Power, But Policy Gaps and Challenges Impede Growth

Governments globally realize the social and economic benefits of providing reliable and affordable power to their citizens and businesses. Over the past few years, many countries have announced ambitious electrification goals: India and Nigeria plan to reach universal electrification by 2019 and 2030 respectively. However, a new study authored by Dalberg shows that these goals are challenged by the financial, political, and institutional reality on the ground.

The study detailing the challenges – and opportunities – the governments of India, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda face as they seek to increase access to electricity through off-grid energy solutions.

Off-grid technology has emerged as important avenue for improving access to electricity over the past decade. Although off-grid energy solutions are being supported by the governments of all four countries, key policy gaps and challenges are impeding the rapid growth of the sector. The study found that despite the differences between the countries, policy-makers share common concerns around off-grid energy. These four concerns must be addressed to unlock the full potential of the sector:

1. Understanding the economics and viability of off-grid energy solutions

2. Politics and challenges between state and local level policy implementation

3. Capacity constraints within the government

4. Access to requisite data for planning

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