Weekend Briefing No. 26

Welcome to the weekend! I hope you had a good week. We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes preparing for the launch of my upcoming book Profit & Purpose: How social innovation is transforming business for good. I think you’re going to love it! I honestly can’t wait to share it with you. As subscribers to the Weekend Briefing, you’re going to get some special exclusive treats in the next few weeks… so stay tuned. In the meantime, we’re working on press outreach right now, so if you or a friend of yours work in the media, I’d love to chat with them. Just reply to this email if you have someone in mind. I really appreciate it.




Powering Africa will create economic gains. More than 70% percent of Africans lack a reliable electricity supply. Power outages cost more than 5 percent of the gross domestic product in Malawi, Uganda and South Africa, according to Standard Bank, and between 1 and 5 percent of GDP in Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania. Power Africa, announced at the US-Africa Summit this week, its $26 billion commitment of both private and public funds to help add 30,000 megawatts of additional capacity and expand electricity access to at least 60 million households and businesses.


But Africa needs better data collection to continue economic growth. Otherwise nobody will really know how all this investment and aid from the US-Africa Summit is being spent. Many African countries get a low score on the World Bank’s index of reporting quality data. The optimistic reporting is designed to attract investment in the short term, but erodes trust over the long term. Learn more here.


A Boston grocery store sparks a debate on shareholder maximization. When is the last time you heard of the 99% protesting FOR the 1% not against them? Well it’s happening in Boston. Employees and customers of Market Basket are protesting the firing of a CEO who was known for making decisions that favored his stakeholders – community, employees and customers – over those of his shareholders. Employees have walked out and customers have boycotted the store, but are taping their receipts from the competitors on Market Basket’s front window. Read the Boston Globe article and listen to the Marketplace story to get a deeper understanding of this strange development. Thanks to Stefanie Chang for her obsession with this admittedly fascinating story.


Do Social Impact Bonds work? Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) have been gaining a bunch of buzz due to their effectiveness and risk shifting mechanism… or at least that’s how the theory goes. But do they actually work? Finally we can answer the question about how things are going about the first SIB in the world in Peterborough England. Reconvictions are down by over 8%. If the project continues to perform investors look likely to make a return in 2016. Find out more details on the project here.


Patagonia has the best weed in town. The weed in question is guayule and it creates an organic rubber, which Patagonia is using in its latest wetsuits, replacing neoprene, a synthetic, petroleum-derived material with a highly toxic manufacturing process. Patagonia’s search for alternatives led to a partnership with Yulex, a company making plant-based biorubbers derived from the guayule plant. Patagonia is now making its Yulex wetsuit in a 60/40 blend (60% guayule, 40% neoprene), reducing dependence on conventional neoprene. Patagonia has made this proprietary biorubber available to the rest of the surf industry. Reason being: when volume goes up, price goes down, and more surfers can choose to purchase less harmful suits. It’s good, smart business… a classic example of profit & purpose. Learn more at Patagonia’s site.




The Robots are coming! I’m super fascinated in how artificial intelligence and robots are going to change our lives and our economy over the next few decades. The best book I’ve read on the topic is The Second Machine Age and I can’t recommend it enough. Check out this 20-minute talk by its author or read the New York Times book review, then go buy the book.


You are super smart, so I’m interested in your thoughts. If you have any story ideas, questions or just want to say hi, just hit reply to this email. I’m looking forward to chatting with you. If you have friends that would like the Weekend Briefing, please forward it along. They can sign up for free here. Follow me on twitter for updates throughout the week.

Have a restful & thoughtful weekend.