Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As we settle into 2014, I wanted to share some reflections on how we pursued our mission – mobilizing effective responses to the world’s most pressing issues – in 2013, a year that brought important and exciting milestones in our growth. In 2013 we began to realize the vision of Dalberg as a broader platform for development. The insights and perspectives from our consulting work increasingly feed into new products and services that extend far beyond consulting.
Pioneering Innovative Finance
Nowhere was this more apparent than in our efforts to bring cutting edge finance tools to bear on development challenges. Dalberg’s impact investing arm, D. Capital, launched HUGinsure, the world’s first social impact insurance, on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York. D. Capital joined forces with Nando’s restaurant chain to pioneer a social impact bond to fight malaria in Mozambique. Meanwhile, a Dalberg consulting team worked with the Nigerian government and KfW to launch the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN), which Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan touted in his state of the nation speech. In 2014, we look forward to seeing these and other new financial instruments for development move from design and piloting to full implementation.
Launching New Entities and Practice Areas
In 2013, we formalized the Global Development Incubator (GDI) as an independent nonprofit rooted in our desire to support initiatives beyond traditional advisory work. GDI has evolved from a home for initiatives into a strategic entity that develops, supports, and scales organizations and initiatives for social change. A recent example is GDI’s support for the Initiative for Smallholder Finance, which released incisive new research this year on providing smallholder farmers with greater access to capital.
Given population shifts towards urban centers, Dalberg launched a new “Cities” community of practice to develop cities as magnets for people, ideas, and resources; hubs for innovation and entrepreneurship; and drivers of the inclusive green growth of nations. Related work in 2013 included addressing how cities can adapt to the effects of climate change, whether by reducing their carbon footprints or growing more resilient against natural disasters.
In May we added our latest office in Bogotá, Colombia, joining forces with Bogotá-based social impact consulting firm B.O.T. Our activity in the Americas grew, including projects on venture capital in the region and support for the youth development philanthropy of the Thrive Foundation. We anticipate expanding our reach even more in 2014, with new office launches planned in Southeast Asia, Europe, West Africa, and potentially the Middle East. Watch this space.
While it’s easy to get excited about projects that break new ground, we believe it’s also crucial to reflect on drivers of past progress. Dalberg followed up on 2012 work with the JPMorgan Chase Foundation with a One Year On review to assess how business development services have helped South African SMEs grow (spoiler alert: they’ve helped a lot!).
Dalberg understands that the world’s most pressing problems require solutions that work for the poorest and most vulnerable populations – our “silent client.” We brought our experience in product innovation to the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) to catalyze adoption of modern off-grid lighting and clean cookstoves.
Catalyzing Tangible Impact
We were thrilled to see multiple moments of salient change arising from our work. To cite just a few:
- Intel launched a new program called She Will Connect in response to Dalberg and Intel’s 2012 Women and the Web report. The program commits to expanding digital literacy skills to young women in developing countries, aiming to reach 5 million women and reduce the internet gender gap by 50%.
- We broke new ground with The Economic Value of Virunga National Park, a report for the World Wildlife Foundation that assigned a monetary value to Africa’s oldest national park. The report sparked an international outcry, leading the UK government to publicly denounce British oil company SOCO’s plans for exploration in the park.
- The mayor of Bogotá adopted a pro-poor subsidy Dalberg designed to ensure Bogotá’s public transit system will remain affordable and accessible to all.
Furthering the Global Development Dialogue
We also shared Dalberg’s knowledge in the development sector and beyond, believing strongly that thought leadership is crucial to our mission of raising living standards around the world. You may have seen Dalberg weighing in on advanced market commitments in Stanford Social Innovation Review, “Inclusion vs. Innovation” in the Huffington Post, and off-grid power for the BoP in the New York Times, among others. In September, we were excited to see Dalberg Senior Advisor Jonathan Berman publish his first book, Success in Africa: CEO Insights from a Continent on the Rise, which hit Amazon’s bestseller list for “Development and Growth” while still in preview phase. In the realm of ICT, Dalberg discussed our work with Google on the Impact of the Internet in Africa report in Business Day and BBC’s In the Balance.
Practicing Resilience and Our Commitment to Community
Amidst these milestones, 2013 also presented challenges. The most painful, by far, was the Westgate Mall terror attacks, which directly affected our community in Kenya. In the painful aftermath, I was immeasurably proud of how our team stood together in the grimmest of times. We also offered pro bono advice and support to the Kenyan government on how to approach recovery from such a major terrorist attack.
We begin a New Year with a team that now numbers over 200 development leaders from more than 40 countries, working together to serve clients and tackle interesting challenges in pursuit of a more inclusive and sustainable world for all. I feel fortunate to count myself a member of this community and to have the privilege of working with clients and partners who continually pursue innovation and positive change.
I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in 2014 and wish every one of you the best in the coming year.