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This Week in PubHub: International Affairs/Development: Economic Development

July 07, 2010

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her last post, she wrote about health care and language services.)

At a time when good news is scarce, one recent report highlights some welcome findings: We seem to be making progress toward achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. With an eye to exploring strategies aimed at further reducing global poverty, this week in PubHub we are featuring reports in the international affairs/development category, with a focus on economic development in conflict areas and developing countries.

Millennium Development Goals Report Card: Learning From Progress (Overseas Development Institute, UN Millennium Campaign) focuses on three of the eight MDGs: Goal 1 - ending hunger and extreme poverty; Goal 4 - reducing child mortality; and Goal 5 - improving maternal health. According to the report, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1990 to 1.4 billion in 2005, while overall child mortality dropped from 101 to 69 per 1,000 live births and access to maternal health services increased in 80 percent of countries. To be sure, progress is uneven, and hundreds of millions of people still live on less than $1 a day, but even a little good news is better than none at all.

Franchising in Frontier Markets: What's Working, What's Not, and Why, a December 2009 report from Dalberg Global Development Advisers (with funding from the John Templeton Foundation), examines the potential of franchising as a model for sustainable economic development in Africa and South Asia, the necessary conditions for franchising success, and its synergies with microfinance. While noting the challenges of socially motivated attempts at franchising in the healthcare sector (lack of self-sustaining business models, over-reliance on grants), the report showcases successful micro-franchise models and offers advice to donors and investors.

The World Resources Institute's September 2009 report On the Frontiers of Finance: Scaling Up Investment in Sustainable Small and Medium Enterprises in Developing Countries focuses on SMEs that produce environmentally responsible products and/or serve low-income communities with the goal of generating social, environmental, and financial gains. Based on interviews with leading sustainable SME investment fund managers, the authors recommend improving capital allocation through better investor/funder education and implementing high standards of transparency; promoting long-term approaches and financial innovation; and capturing the "triple bottom line" through the use of metrics that communicate impact effectively.

Poverty is exacerbated in conflict areas, where economic, political, and social tensions often reinforce one another in a vicious cycle. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation report Summit on Entrepreneurship and Expeditionary Economics: Toward a New Approach to Economic Growth Following Conflict or Disaster highlights discussions from a May 2010 conference on post-conflict economic development efforts -- past, present, and future. According to the report, the intersecting roles of the military, the international business community, local human capital, and cultural dynamics are central to the debate.

What approaches to international economic development would you like to see explored? What other strategies for fighting hunger and poverty might be pursued? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts. And be sure to visit PubHub to check out the almost 350 reports on various aspects of international affairs/development.

-- Kyoko Uchida

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