How do you bring compassion to financial services for the poor?

What problem did he solve?

+ Muhammed Yunus created the guidelines, systems and processes to enable loans at the “bottom of the pyramid” capital to flow

What was the paradigm through which he viewed the problem?

+ Worm’s Eye View: Yunus took a holistic and entrenched view into plight of an impoverished individual – he made no assumptions and considered all soft and hard aspects to serving the poor

When you hold the world in your palm and inspect it only from a bird’s eye view, you tend to become arrogant — you do not realize that things get blurred when seen from an enormous distance. I opted instead for “the worm’s eye view.” I hoped that if I studied poverty at close range, I would understand it more keenly. ~ M. Yunus

+ Solve Small Problems/Organic Growth: Yunus was results oriented, he focused on the problem right in front of him, and continued one solution at a time

What drove him?

+ Anger: As an economist he usually theorized about financial problems in the millions and billions, but when he met an impoverished woman whose life depended on pennies, he decided that an economic system that systemically leaves out people would no longer suffice

An Incomplete System: I was teaching in one of the universities while the country was suffering from a severe famine. People were dying of hunger, and I felt very helpless. As an economist, I had no tool in my tool box to fix that kind of situation. ~ M. Yunus

How did he do it?

+ Entrepreneurship: By empowering the poor, he did something no one else had done – he believed in the creativity and ingenuity of all individuals

Financial Platform: The crux behind the success of the Grameen Bank is that over time Muhammed Yunus established a platform for low-income banking – e.g., microloans, no signed documents, weekly repayment schedule, micro-savings (i.e. mushti chai – the bengali custom of saving a couple pieces of rice)

+ Support Groups: All Grameen Bank applicants joined groups of individuals in similar economic conditions – loans are distributed to each individual as long as the other members in the group are successful. This system creates inter- and intra-competition that propels success.

+ Human Trust: Lawyers, courts or outsiders are never involved at any point – the fundamental principal the Grameen Yunus relied on is trust.  If repayments are not made, then the Grameen Bank believes they need to do more to help their customer succeed.

What is entrepreneurship, after all?  Bigness is not the issue.  Poor people are the ones who take challenges every day. The guy who sells a hot dog on the street is as much an entrepreneur as anyone else. Getting his $50 loan to start could be as difficult as finding $50 million for someone else. All people are entrepreneurs. ~ M. Yunus

There are no legal instruments between the lenders and borrowers. We were convinced that the bank should be built on human trust, not on meaningless paper contracts ~ M. Yunus

Source image: World Economic Forum

Patient Capitalism: A Different Kind of Capitalism

Since Google first invested in the Acumen Fund I have followed their work and, specifically, Jacqueline Novogratz. Here are some of my notes from NPR’s Krista Tippets interview with her (go here to listen for yourself).

+ strong moral and spiritual core
+ investors returns come in social change, not money
+ “the ethics of aid”
+ gates foundation; hedge funds; philanthropic venture capital
What is the Acumen Fund?
+ invests in for-profit projects and brings services to those who earn less than $4 per day
+ far more important to be interested in the world than an interesting person
+ helped make first microfinance organization in rawanda
What is patient capitalism?
+ Patient Capitalism –> capitalism gave no time for entrepreneurs to innovate
What is the biggest issue with patient capitalism?
+ the biggest issue is talent  –> need to provide lots of management assistance
What is an example of a project?
Water Health International
+ the initiative comes from an entrepreneur
+ uv filtration system for purifying water
+ 600K dollars in filtration system
+ Many say it is unethical to make money off of poor
+ ankur shah (mckinsey consultant and architect background)
+ no banks would loan to the entrepreneur in each of the people
+ make loan and provide management assistance on a local level
+ markets can act as listening devices
What is the magic?
+ Sharpened financial edges with spiritual undertones
+ Financial returns vs. social returns
+ Believe people want to be inspired
+ Believe people need to start rounding their actions in spirituality and if we do not realize that we are all connected
+ hard headed with soft heart
+ facebook is a materialization of our need and desire to be connected; however, fundamentally, we are already connected
Chris Farell
+ Chief Economic
+ Finance/investment (speaking of faith)
+ Patrick gelbardsmith
+ aid for free and investment
+ expecting returns to come in social returns
How does the work change investors?
+ how smart the poorest people in the world are
+ the explosion of potential
+ any returns that the fund gets put back into the acumen fund
+ the money is highly leveraged money
+ the return is in social change
How does Jacqueline find sustenance?
+ never feels successful
+ ask deeper and deeper questions
+ the joy that she gets from the interactions and helps her feel connected across the spectrum to rich and poor
+ suffering does not burn her out
+ she sees positives
+ what is exhausting is the lack of caring
+ exhilaration:
+ going to a new universe
+ she could not remember feeling so alive
+ where you see the best and worse
+ being much closer to the human experience
+ we hide death; where animals are grown; veneer is stripped;
+ the best and worst of the human condition
+ do we want other people in the world to be developed like we are
+ to not give tools seems paternalistic
+  must give choice
What is the fellows program?
+ trained talent
+ 600 applicants from a ll over the world
+ groundswell in business schools that are using patient capitalOther Interesting Links:
+ Recommended Reading by J. Novogratz for all Acumen Fund Fellows

How to write a good storyline? Or, create an awesome powerpoint deck…

Storyline Checklist:
  • Did you consider your audience and purpose?
  • How much time can you realistically take per slide + questions + other presentation derailments?
  • Do you have an objectives slide (i.e. why are we here today?)
  • Does the story follow a logical and coherent flow (i.e. inductive or deductive reasoning based on quantitative and qualitative analysis)?
  • Is there a clear theme? Or, three key takeaways?
  • On any slide or bullet point, can you answer the question: “so what?”
  • What is your “money slide?” The slide that someone could rip away from the deck and be enchanted.
  • Is the hypothesis proven by data? – charts, graphs, tables, quotes
  • Are the charts, graphs, text and voice consistent?
  • Is the implicit made explicit (i.e. state your assumptions)?
Slide Writing Checklist:
  • Is the language consistent (i.e. Titles and bullets consistent)?
  • Is the text the right size for the audience and purpose?
  • Does the slide communicate one clear and easy to understand message?
  • Have you included section indicators (i.e. a header or navigator to recenter your audience on what you are taking about)?
  • Did you clearly cite your sources?
  • Can you transition easily between slides?
  • Did you use active voice (never use passive, it’s passive)?
  • Have you proofread the deck? Begin from the last slide and start from the bottom sentence and move forward. When you read out of context you will find more typos.
  • Have you done an accuracy and sanity check of the data? Explain this to your 15 year old niece or nephew, does it make sense?
  • Are the slides consistently formatted individually and versus all the other slides (e.g., text and graphic alignment)?
  • Do you have page numbers?
  • If it is a draft, did you include “Draft for discussion purposes?”
Source: Based off my mentors and trainers from Diamond Management and Technology Consultants.