New Leadership for Global Initiatives

October 17, 2008

It’s that time of year…Elections!  Given the collaborative nature of Haas and the good times we have in Global Initiatives, our club co-President elections will surely not rival the intensity of the Obama/McCain standoff.  However, it’s a great opportunity for us to reflect on all the great club activities and accomplishments over the last year.

For those of you who are thinking of running for the Co-President or VP positions, this will give you a good idea of the vision for each role.  But we encourage you to invent your own activities (and even positions).  This club is a tool for its members — a platform that we’ve used to improve our knowledge in this area, meet new people, and build a community.  We want you to use it in the same way!

We would love to have a leadership team that spans the graduate programs of UC Berkeley and we encourage you to apply for the positions or speak up if you want to be your school’s key “point of contact” for Global Initiatives.  We need your insights to make the club more relevant to all of UC Berkeley!

Global Careers: We held career discussions, participated in non-traditional job search support groups, and organized a January career trek to Washington DC where students met with organizations like the Grameen Foundation, Ashoka, Technoserve, Shorebank International, and Winrock.  This position is great for having an excuse to establish contacts with organizations you’re interested in working with in the future.

Thought Leadership: The club was able to support two speaker series on campus – Enterprising Solutions and Microfinance.  Both of the series were widely attended and explored a wide variety of developing world topics.  In addition to formal speaker series, we were able to organize several independent speaker events with representatives from the BiD Network, Vitalwave Consulting, and Intel emerging markets, among others.  This position is a platform for bringing great speakers to campus.

Global Outreach: We launched this blog and website, strengthened relationships with cross-campus academic centers, connected with other Berkeley student groups, developed a Global Initiatives database of resources, and organized participation in several conferences such as Net Impact and Social Capital Markets.  We also had several students become guest bloggers for NextBillion.net, an Acumen Fund’s blog.  This position is a fabulous way to expand your network at Berkeley and beyond.

Community: We organized a fall Graduate School Mixer event sponsored by the Blum Center for Developing Economies and had fun meeting other Berkeley students interested in the areas of global health, ICTD, energy, water sanitation, education, and other relevant international development topics.  We also organized more informal “hangs” such as a Beckett’s happy hour to chat about winter break travels.  This position is a great way to contribute to club’s culture of fun.

Co-Presidents
: We have led the charge for Global Initiatives this past year, helping manage or run the initiatives listed above in partnership with our leadership team.  A few additional activities that we’ve worked on include establishing closer ties to the Richard C. Blum Center, creating a Global Initiatives intranet site that we use to keep track of club activities and key documents (so you don’t have to start from scratch each year) and representing the club at all the MBAA events (leadership offsite, career fairs, etc.).

We’re always looking for more great ideas, and would love for club members to initiate activities as well!  If you are interested in becoming a Global Initiatives club leader, please reference the timeline in our email sent out to the club.

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Part One: The Assassination of the Third World

October 17, 2008

At what point did the term “third world” become a cultural slur? Rising anxiety surrounding this nomenclature seems to have coincided with a number of events in the late 1980s and early 1990s: the U.S. assault on Panama; the beginning of a long period of jobless growth in the U.S.; the fall of the Soviet Union (“the Second World”). With the collapse of the ostensible global hierarchy, and a rising necessity for the U.S. to maintain relationships with nascent, burgeoning nations to sustain jobless growth, the terminology seems to have been quickly replaced with more strategic ‘phrases du jour’: developing countries, emerging economies, etc. But Vijay Prashad argues that this liberal nominalism missed the entire significance of the Third World, the ideals it originally represented, and how it was assassinated.

Last week I attended a lecture given by Prashad, Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College, genre-busting political and social historian, and prolific author. In his most recent work, The Darker Nations: A Peope’s History of the Third World, Prashad explores the notion of the Third World rather as a intentional ‘project’, originating with the first sparks of anti-colonialist rebellion in the 1920s and dying in the embers of the global debt crisis of the early 1980s. The objectives of this project, which was hoisted to global significance by post-colonial intellectuals and leaders such as Nehru of India, Castro of Cuba, Nkrumah of Ghana, Mandela of South Africa, was to develop a universal platform for newly emancipated nations to come to the table, in the United Nations and elsewhere, with the countries to which they had for too long been subordinate. These leaders held strong to their beliefs that a new world order would require peace (disarmament), economic and trade reform, and justice (gender and racial equality).

Read the rest of this entry »


SoCap08 and Nextbillion.net

October 17, 2008

It was an energizing week!  Social Capital Markets 2008 turned out to be a fantastic conference…fabulous attendees and brilliant conversations. I hope that this will be the first of many conferences for the SoCap team!

I was thrilled that Haas was so well represented at the conference.  As someone who worked with the conference organizers to secure Haas as the primary source for volunteers…it was great to see the my classmates in action!  Christy Martell and Lauren Bergeson did a great job coordinating the volunteer effort (over 25 Haas volunteers — we were well represented compared to other bschool programs) and creation of the SoCap wiki.

The highlight for me was getting to blog about the experience for nextbillion.net.  I am a huge fan of that blog started by WRI and now co-led with Acumen Fund…it was one that I used to read everyday when I was working out of a cubicle at Yahoo! and dreaming of a career at the cross-section of social enterprise and international development.  (The other key influential blog for me was socialedge.org).  So it was an absolute honor to get to work with Rob Katz and Francisco Noguera and contribute to the nextbillion conference coverage along with so many industry professionals!

We had 5 bloggers from Haas working with the nextbillion team!  You’ll find blog posts from key Global Initiatives members like Champa Gujjanudu, Cindy Chen and Charlene Chen.  You can also find my blog post there too.

I have had so many wonderful experiences during my first full year of grad school, and attending SoCap08 and blogging for nextbillion was another to add to the list.  That list is getting pretty long!


2008 Social Capitalist Awards

October 6, 2008

Fast Company is my favorite business magazine, hands down.  Every year, the magazine chooses 45 Social Entrepreneurs that are changing the world.  Some of the top picks include organizations that have been highlighted in the Market-based Approaches to Poverty course, like Acumen Fellows, KickStart and Scojo Foundation.  Definitely check out the list if you’re interested in working for an innovative social enterprise – I’ve got my eye on a few of them as well!


Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions (TIER)

October 5, 2008

TIER is a multi-disciplinary research group dedicated to understanding the role of and developing innovative information and communications technologies for developing regions.  If you’re a Berkeley student, there’s a free workshop NEXT WEEK (October 17-18) sponsored by CITRIS, Blum Center for Developing Economies, the School of Information, and the National Science Foundation. Looks like a very cool line-up with lots of different projects, ranging from The Ghana Consultation Network (a remote medical consultation and social networking system for Ghanaian doctors) to Political Corruption and the Implementation of Community Information Kiosks in India.  Click here to register or here to check out the agenda.


Sustainable Innovations at BoP

October 4, 2008

The Sustainable Innovations at the Base of the Pyramid conference, sponsored by the Helsinki School of Economics, concluded last week in Helsinki, Finland. The primary focus of the conference was on sustainable solutions – whether addressing the issues of climate change, the environment, waste, recycling or resources or whether business models meant to serve the poor profitably could be designed to be self supporting over time.  Many of the presentations touch upon concepts that we’ve discussed in our Market-based Approaches to Poverty speaker series, especially the design session from two weeks ago.

I’d like to share with you some of the highlights from the many presentations, as well as share links to download.

1. How Base of the Pyramid is evolving to a Diamond as the working poor move up the economic ladder (Brabhu Kandachar of Delft University of Technology)

2. Philip Design’s approach to addressing Indoor Air Polluion, through design of an indoor cooking stove. What is especially interesting to me is the “Stakeholder” cards which identify the needs, requirements, socio-economic constraints, technology relations, etc for each of their identified constituent.  It seems like an easy way to always keep customers in mind, especially when looking across regions or countries for the same product design.  (Philips Design)

3. Nokia’s realization that 800 million people (in both developed and developing world) are illiterate and how they address this challenge through the design of their mobile devices (Nokia)

There are many many more presentations; check them all out here.