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The Business of Changing the World: How Billionaires, Tech Disrupters, and Social Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Aid Industry

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Tech entrepreneurs bring their thinking to "giving..".bringing a data-driven, results oriented approach to revolutionize the space Today, entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley start-ups, and celebrity activists are the driving force in a radical shift in the way we think about lifting people out of poverty. In this new era of data-driven, results-oriented global aid it's no longer Tech entrepreneurs bring their thinking to "giving..".bringing a data-driven, results oriented approach to revolutionize the space Today, entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley start-ups, and celebrity activists are the driving force in a radical shift in the way we think about lifting people out of poverty. In this new era of data-driven, results-oriented global aid it's no longer enough to be a well-intentioned do-gooder or for the wealthy to donate an infinitesimal part of their assets to people without a home or basic nutrition. What matter now in the world of aid are measurable improvements and demonstrable, long-term change. Drawing on two decades of research and his own experiences as an expert in global development, Raj Kumar, founder and President of Devex, explores the successes and failures of non-traditional models of philanthropy. According to Kumar, a new billionaire boom is fundamentally changing the landscape of how we give, from well-established charitable organizations like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to Starbucks and other businesses that see themselves as social enterprises, to entreprenuerial start-ups like Hello Tractor, a farm equipment-sharing app for farmers in Nigeria, and Give Directly, an app that allows individuals to send money straight to the mobile phone of someone in need. The result is a more sustainable philosophy of aid that elevates the voices of people in need as neighbors, partners, and customers. Refreshing and accessibly written, The Business of Changing the World sets forth a bold vision for how businesses, policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals can turn well-intentioned charity into effective advocacy to transform our world for good.


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Tech entrepreneurs bring their thinking to "giving..".bringing a data-driven, results oriented approach to revolutionize the space Today, entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley start-ups, and celebrity activists are the driving force in a radical shift in the way we think about lifting people out of poverty. In this new era of data-driven, results-oriented global aid it's no longer Tech entrepreneurs bring their thinking to "giving..".bringing a data-driven, results oriented approach to revolutionize the space Today, entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley start-ups, and celebrity activists are the driving force in a radical shift in the way we think about lifting people out of poverty. In this new era of data-driven, results-oriented global aid it's no longer enough to be a well-intentioned do-gooder or for the wealthy to donate an infinitesimal part of their assets to people without a home or basic nutrition. What matter now in the world of aid are measurable improvements and demonstrable, long-term change. Drawing on two decades of research and his own experiences as an expert in global development, Raj Kumar, founder and President of Devex, explores the successes and failures of non-traditional models of philanthropy. According to Kumar, a new billionaire boom is fundamentally changing the landscape of how we give, from well-established charitable organizations like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to Starbucks and other businesses that see themselves as social enterprises, to entreprenuerial start-ups like Hello Tractor, a farm equipment-sharing app for farmers in Nigeria, and Give Directly, an app that allows individuals to send money straight to the mobile phone of someone in need. The result is a more sustainable philosophy of aid that elevates the voices of people in need as neighbors, partners, and customers. Refreshing and accessibly written, The Business of Changing the World sets forth a bold vision for how businesses, policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals can turn well-intentioned charity into effective advocacy to transform our world for good.

30 review for The Business of Changing the World: How Billionaires, Tech Disrupters, and Social Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Aid Industry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Hillman

    I highly recommend this book for clearly and openly addressing some of the biggest issues of our time. The global debate about development, extreme poverty, inequality and philanthropy is often polarized and generates more heat than light. This book looks at the evidence, and its optimistic, can-do approach is very welcome in these times of deep pessimism. The author clearly cares about improving lives and opportunities for all people but he doesn’t let his motives get in the way of an analytica I highly recommend this book for clearly and openly addressing some of the biggest issues of our time. The global debate about development, extreme poverty, inequality and philanthropy is often polarized and generates more heat than light. This book looks at the evidence, and its optimistic, can-do approach is very welcome in these times of deep pessimism. The author clearly cares about improving lives and opportunities for all people but he doesn’t let his motives get in the way of an analytical and engaging account of the state of global development.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I wanted to love this book - it has such an optimistic, forward-looking premise: the future of global development and foreign assistance is changing, and for the better. As someone with both a professional and personal interest, I was an eager consumer. However, this book suffers from a few fundamental problems - beyond the schizophrenic nature of the writing, which bounces from topic to topic and story to story without any connecting tissue. This in itself makes it hard to read, which is surpri I wanted to love this book - it has such an optimistic, forward-looking premise: the future of global development and foreign assistance is changing, and for the better. As someone with both a professional and personal interest, I was an eager consumer. However, this book suffers from a few fundamental problems - beyond the schizophrenic nature of the writing, which bounces from topic to topic and story to story without any connecting tissue. This in itself makes it hard to read, which is surprising given the author’s founding of Devex. First, the basic premise is never proven or discussed. Yes, there are massive new foundations (BMGF as the prime example), new CSR initiatives, a few wealthy donors from both the developed and developing worlds, and new tech tools. But the big upheaval is actually still at the government level: isolationist leaders who want to scale back the small amounts of aid currently spent. China stepping into the game. Even national governments starting to commit more of their own resources. This book missed a key component to the “changing the world” clause in the title. Second, We can (& this book should have) debated whether that’s all for the good. Kumar takes at face value the fact that tech, new wealthy donors, new foundations, etc are all good actors in this space. I would like to share his optimism, but the fact is I’m not convinced. Even the example he uses re Mark Zuckerberg and his philanthropic efforts feel like cherry picked, small potato issues that a wealthy guy in Silicon Valley gets to care about as opposed to needs to care about. It’s easy to care about sexy things like new tech mapping tools - but who is paying for the maternity care kits that actually deliver safe mothers and babies? Still governments, through the UN. It’s nice that Toms sends new pairs of shoes to a poor person when someone buys a $55 canvas flat, but who is building the roads they walk on? There is a systems thinking approach here that’s missing, though he tosses around the phrase. Third, and speaking of the UN, Kumar never addresses what the role of multilaterals is, what is working, what isn’t, and how to change it. In the era of SDGs, there’s a huge opportunity for a mindset shift to universality, but that goes ignored here. Finally, the “what you can do” chapter is beyond weak. Individuals should demand data from nonprofits? Great - but let’s start with a basic premise that people should care about others, and reflect that in for whom they vote. This also goes against one of Kumar’s earlier points about direct giving leading to greater results...without metadata. He basically poo poos anyone not from the Western world going into development work, even though his entire platform is devoted to connecting those workers (& providing opportunities for them). He skips the role of business leaders in getting informed and demanding change in the system, and instead focuses on what a few could do to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. And again, he skips government, their workers, their procurement processes, and the people who vote them in, entirely. Which is a shame, because if you actually want big data, guess who invests in the DHS, MICS, etc? It’s nice to care about one disease, but governments are still thinking about global health - health and disease as a system. I wish Kumar had spent more time arguing his basic presence and less time telling stories, including his holier than thou “my grandma’s funeral was an act of charity for the poor.” I wanted to be convinced, but Kumar effectively made me feel even more skeptical about the role of billionaires, tech experts and others trying to disrupt a system rather than focusing on how to get existing actors to deliver on better results.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gizem Kendik Önduygu

    Hey milyarder filantropistler, sosyal girişimciler, Raj Kumar'dan (veya Devex'ten) danışmanlık alın. Kitap bunu demenin dolaylı bir yolu gibi ama kalkınma dünyasındaki trendleri özetleyip "open source aid"le çerçevelediği için 5 verdim. Artık bitti öyle "Bakın bakın biz de yardım için buradayız, ne kadar da iyi niyetliyiz" dönemleri. Eğer işleriniz sonuç vermiyorsa iyi niyetinizin hiç bir önemi yok. Hey milyarder filantropistler, sosyal girişimciler, Raj Kumar'dan (veya Devex'ten) danışmanlık alın. Kitap bunu demenin dolaylı bir yolu gibi ama kalkınma dünyasındaki trendleri özetleyip "open source aid"le çerçevelediği için 5 verdim. Artık bitti öyle "Bakın bakın biz de yardım için buradayız, ne kadar da iyi niyetliyiz" dönemleri. Eğer işleriniz sonuç vermiyorsa iyi niyetinizin hiç bir önemi yok.

  4. 4 out of 5

    S. Kolbe

    A very interesting look at how charitable giving is changing with the application of lessons from the startup space.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    A great analysis of aid arrangements across the globe. Very informative & worth a re-read. And was thoroughly surprised to find out he was a Keralite!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sekiziyivu David

    An awesome side of events... Love the detail into the future

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    It’s cool to get to live some of the life the author is describing. As a social entrepreneur working alongside many of the NGOs and donors he is describing, I often see the forward thinking optimists who are strangled by bureaucratic traditional funding processes, the agencies who are creating new programs that strive to be data and impact driven, and the other social enterprises in the industry taking risks that may well pay off in both revenue and impact. But I can’t help but wonder if the auth It’s cool to get to live some of the life the author is describing. As a social entrepreneur working alongside many of the NGOs and donors he is describing, I often see the forward thinking optimists who are strangled by bureaucratic traditional funding processes, the agencies who are creating new programs that strive to be data and impact driven, and the other social enterprises in the industry taking risks that may well pay off in both revenue and impact. But I can’t help but wonder if the author and his bias toward large scale change fails to grasp the power of decentralized markets to fundamentally improve society. He credits much of the improvement in poverty indicators to the aid industry, when much of it is likely due to the market forces of urbanizing China. He seems to expect that the real large scale impact in the future will be achieved primarily when large industry giants become social enterprises as well. But the history of markets is mostly about decentralized processes and tiny individual decisions resulting in incremental improvements in everyday life. What role do these forces play in social enterprise formation? Overall, love Devex. Great book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erik Champenois

    A good overview of some of the hot trends within international development today. The focus on private sector disruption does unfortunately mean that the importance of politics, geopolitics, and government funding is glossed over. The focus on disruptive private sector "new aid" means that trends in more traditional publicly funded "old aid" programs are neglected, resulting in an only partial overview of the current aid industry. The lack of a more critical perspective on billionaire funding of A good overview of some of the hot trends within international development today. The focus on private sector disruption does unfortunately mean that the importance of politics, geopolitics, and government funding is glossed over. The focus on disruptive private sector "new aid" means that trends in more traditional publicly funded "old aid" programs are neglected, resulting in an only partial overview of the current aid industry. The lack of a more critical perspective on billionaire funding of aid was another weakness. Regardless, this is a good primer of current trends in development and how transparency, technology, business and social enterprise are changing the aid landscape. This book joins others by Sachs, Easterly, Collier, etc. as a must read for anyone working in or interested in international development.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adama

    More than a book ... a development textbook I bought the Kindle version of this book a few months ago but only now have I been able to read it. I usually read several books in parallel. But when I started to read this book by Raj Kumar, I stopped all the others as it captivated me. It is not just a book. It's a development textbook based on examples and case studies: a real compendium of Dos and Don'ts when it comes to development. Any development worker or development organization leader, includ More than a book ... a development textbook I bought the Kindle version of this book a few months ago but only now have I been able to read it. I usually read several books in parallel. But when I started to read this book by Raj Kumar, I stopped all the others as it captivated me. It is not just a book. It's a development textbook based on examples and case studies: a real compendium of Dos and Don'ts when it comes to development. Any development worker or development organization leader, including donors, should read this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aylin Nilya

    I found this book incredibly insightful as a primer into the trends and challenges in global development today. It sketches out the landscape of actors, the issues and opportunities of new actors and some of the key debates and philosophies in the sphere. Highly recommend to anyone interested in the field!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allan Wind

    Great catalogue This is a useful albeit sometime politically correct catalogue of all the disparate elements of the global development community. As one who has also pursued a similar career over the last four decades it fills a valuable space.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kagimu Brian

    In today's world, while solving the most pressing issues like the author says, good intentions are not enough if they ain't followed by good results. In today's world, while solving the most pressing issues like the author says, good intentions are not enough if they ain't followed by good results.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Panagiota Tania

    A good overview of many different trends in international aid and where the field is going.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom Kiefer

    Raj Kumar's The Business of Changing the World provides an excellent and very readable all-around survey of specifically what is and has been so wrong with much of today's government-funded and -directed charitable aid (short-term political motivations, disconnectedness from effectiveness and results, etc.), how the specifically results-driven methodologies of many charitable non-government organizations (NGOs) provide so much better long-term aid value for the dollar/euro/etc., how the grow Raj Kumar's The Business of Changing the World provides an excellent and very readable all-around survey of specifically what is and has been so wrong with much of today's government-funded and -directed charitable aid (short-term political motivations, disconnectedness from effectiveness and results, etc.), how the specifically results-driven methodologies of many charitable non-government organizations (NGOs) provide so much better long-term aid value for the dollar/euro/etc., how the growing community of billionaire philanthropists enable some of those NGOs to accomplish so much, and the "giving pledge" that invites and encourages more of the world's wealthiest to commit to doing the same. One quibble on page 29: Libertarians in general are not "dubious about the value of aid and charity." Libertarians are dubious about the value of politically-directed government-forced aid and charity, and would largely appreciate this book's coverage of the problems inherent in exactly that. This nit doesn't detract at all from the book's value; just something that needed pointing out (in case the author is reading this). :-)

  15. 5 out of 5

    DAv id Green

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leonie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Aragao

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emilia B

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hyeonjin

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tsega

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adwoa

  26. 4 out of 5

    Taryn Russell

  27. 4 out of 5

    Helen Mesick

  28. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Pinfold

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brit M

  30. 5 out of 5

    Summit Rosenberg

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