Weekend Briefing No. 15

PROFIT & PURPOSE WEEKEND BRIEFING is a selection of insightful articles on social innovation. To have it delievered directly to your inbox every Saturday, SIGN UP HERE.


Will selling to the poor pay off? When CK Prahalad’s book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, was published in 2004, the book made an immediate splash. Its argument was irresistible: The world’s poorest people are a vast, fast-growing market with untapped buying power, and companies that learn to serve them can make money and help people escape poverty, too. If there is a fortune to be made at the bottom of the pyramid, it remains elusive. Partly that’s because doing business with the poor is unavoidably complex. Read more in this Guardian article.


Somaly Mam: the holy saint (and sinner) of sex trafficking. She has saved countless women from sex slavery, does it matter that her stories aren’t completely true? According to Newsweek, like Greg Mortenson, she fabricated key parts of her story and coached women in her shelter to fabricate stories for the press in order to create more compelling stories for fundraising. Do the means justify the ends? Read more at Newsweek.


What is the impact of Zuckerberg’s $100 Million donation to Newark schools? Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg had a plan to reform Newark’s schools, in the process, they got an education. This New Yorker article is well worth a read, an excellent example of the long-form journalism that is becoming increasingly rare.


An old factory, is growing fish, kale and jobs in a run down neighborhood. Urban Organics uses aquaponics to grow tilapia and vegetables in an old industrial space with no dirt and sun. It’s bringing jobs and production back to a downtrodden neighborhood in St. Paul Minnesota–and local food, as well. A collaboration between the city of St. Paul­–which ponied up $300,000 in grants and loans–and private backers, Urban Organics is a test case for a new kind of urban agriculture and a food-based approach to urban renewal. Read more at Fast Company.


What Bill Gates thinks about Jeffery Sachs. Bono calls economist Jeffrey Sachs ‘the squeaky wheel that roars.’ Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, thinks Sachs is the Bono of economics – a guy with impressive intelligence, passion, and powers of persuasion who is devoting his gifts to speaking up for the poorest people on the planet. Read more of Gates on Sachs here.