A formerly obscure berry from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has become a global marketing success. The açaí berry – a dark, small fruit similar in appearance to blueberries – has surged in popularity around the world and brought newfound prosperity to poor communities.
The açaí berry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Açaí_Palm) has seen its popularity take off because of its purported antioxidant properties (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antioxidants). It is marketed as a way to reduce cancer and heart disease, although hype has sometimes portrayed the benefits to be higher than scientific studies have found. But whatever the truth of the berry’s overall health-giving properties, it has become an economic success story in Brazil.
A rapid success story – açaí was first exported from Brazil after 2000 – the berry is now sought by health-conscious consumers and the diet industry for its antioxidant properties and slimming effects.
Harvesting the berries is providing poor communities with an alternative source of income in the Amazon rainforest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Rainforest). And the successful marketing and selling of the berries offers a good example to others trying to improve profits for agricultural products from the South.
Prior to its global popularity, a bowl of açaí berries was a staple for poor families in some parts of Brazil. The pulp is traditionally eaten as a side dish. It is a common sight in Brazil to see street vendors or shops selling crushed açaí pulp. Trendier places in Rio de Janerio sell sweetened açaí berry smoothies. In Belem, the capital of Para State, two ice cream chains sell açaí flavoured ice cream. A white and purple swirl of açaí and tapioca is a common favourite. Other treats include açaí candy and açaí tarts in bakeries.
Some claim the taste of the berry when sweetened is earthy, while left in a natural state it is more grassy. The berry grows wild on palm trees lining rivers or on farms.
Orisvaldo Ferreira de Souza is an açaí farmer on the island of Itanduba, an hour by boat from the town of Cametá, population 117,000. Açaí harvesting has become the main livelihood for many families in the area. Orisvaldo harvests açaí from 8,000 palm trees on a 14 hectare farm.
“Two or three years ago, we had a lot of trouble selling the product,” he told the New York Times. “We had to bring it to town, and sometimes we came back without selling it.”
But times have changed and the buyers now come to the farmers. “Just yesterday, six buyers came by,” he said. “We sold 10 baskets each to two of them.”
At the CAMTA cooperative (http://www.camta.com.br/companyE.htm) in Tomé-Açu, a town with a population of 40,000, the berry is a significant source of income. The co-op’s director, Ivan Saiki, notes the boost to local incomes: “Before the boom, the harvest came and the açaí was worth practically nothing. Before, nobody had television, nobody had a motorized canoe. Now many have their own electricity at home. It’s greatly improved the life of the river communities.”
The co-op has a fruit pulp processing factory to improve the profits for the farmers and, by controlling quality, raise the reputation for their products. In order to avoid over-dependence on one commodity, the co-op members grow many other fruits as well, including papaya, mango, lemons, and local favourites abrico, uxi and bacuri.
Another initiative is Sambazon (Sustainable Management of the Brazilian Amazon) (www.sambazon.com). This small company, founded in 2000, combines business with a partnership to ensure local communities benefit from the berry’s success story. Sambazon buys the berries from over 10,000 people in the Amazon and is certified organic (http://www.organicfarmers.org.uk). Through its SAP (Sustainable Amazon Partnership), over 1,100 local family farmers are able to harvest açaí berries as an alternative income source to logging, cattle ranching and monoculture plantations – all of which are threats to the Amazon rainforest. The company sells a range of products, from sorbet to supplements to juices and energy drinks. It also uses athletes to promote the products and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Other companies like Açaí Roots (www.acairoots.com) – founded by three Brazilians in Rio de Janerio – also associate the product with an overall healthy lifestyle. It sells drinks, smoothies, energy shots and liquid concentrate. Founded in 2005, it is selling the concept of the healthy Brazilian lifestyle and proudly claims its founders “were born and raised on açaí.”
Published: May 2010
1) Just Food is a web portal packed with the latest news on the global food industry and packed with events and special briefings to fill entrepreneurs in on the difficult issues and constantly shifting market demands. Website:www.just-food.com
2) International Cooperative Agricultural Organisation: The ICAO is the democratic organisation representing agricultural co-operatives and farmers worldwide. Website: http://www.agricoop.org
4) Food Safety – From the Farm to the Fork is the European Commission’s guidelines on food safety and how to prepare food for import into the European Community. Website: http://ec.europa.eu/food/international/trade index_en.htm
Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.
The fifth issue of Southern Innovator has launched online and in print. Order copies now for distribution. Email: email@example.com.
Issue six will be on science, technology and innovation. This issue will be different from previous issues and will be including supplements and inserts to boost the impact of the magazine. Southern Innovator is seeking sponsors to fund this and also to help us expand the print run (currently 5,000 copies for global distribution).
3D Home Printing Landmark: 10 Houses in a Day Development Challenges: The global South is experiencing urban growth on a scale unprecedented in human history, far outstripping the great urbanization wave that swept across Europe and North America during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Old Boats Become New Furniture in SenegalDevelopment Challenges: Every country has its fair share of waste and the remnants of past economic activity. Old cars nobody wants, discarded tins of food, old plastic bags, spare copper wire, cast-off clothing – all can have a new life in the right hands.
Innovative Ways to Collect Water from AirDevelopment Challenges: World water resources are being depleted quickly as populations grow, urbanize and demand better living standards. Many scientists believe we are reaching peak water – the point at which fresh water is consumed faster than it is replenished.
Caribbean Island St. Kitts Goes Green for Tourism Development Challenges: Going green may sound like the right thing to do but it can also be associated with being a costly burden and boring. But, as one island nation is proving, being green is a great selling point for attracting tourists and investors – especially in a world where many places are grappling with pollution and resource depletion.
Big Data Can Transform the Global South’s Growing Cities Development Challenges: The coming years will see a major new force dominating development: Big Data. The term refers to the vast quantities of digital data being generated as a result of the proliferation of mobile phones, the Internet and social media across the global South – a so-called ‘data deluge’ (UN Global Pulse). It is an historically unprecedented surge in data, much of it coming from some of the poorest places on the planet and being gathered in real time.
Indian Business Model Makes Green Energy Affordable Development Challenges: The technology already exists to provide renewable energy and electricity to all the world’s poor. The trick is finding a way to pay for it and to make it sustainable. Many innovators are experimenting with business models to reach the so-called Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) cohort, and the 1.2 billion poorest people in the world who do not have access to electricity (World Bank) (http://tinyurl.com/n9p3f5x). A further 2.8 billion have to rely on wood or other biomass materials to cook and heat their homes.
South-South Trade Helping Countries During Economic CrisisDevelopment Challenges: Weathering the global economic crisis is testing the stability of countries across the global South. But many countries are finding South-South trade and catering to their domestic middle classes can lift incomes and maintain growth rates despite the global turmoil.
3D Printing Gives Boy a New Arm in SudanDevelopment Challenges: 3D printing is rapidly going mainstream and is now starting to make a big impact in health care. One innovative solution is using the technology to manufacture artificial arms for amputees harmed by war in Africa.
African Hotel Boom Bringing in New Investment and Creating JobsDevelopment Challenges: Africa is experiencing a boom not seen for decades. The IMF forecasts economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa of 6 per cent in 2014, compared to global growth of 3.6 per cent.
Brazilian Design for New Urban, Middle-Class World Development Challenges: Countries across the global South are experiencing rapid urbanization as people move to cities for better economic opportunities — and this massive social change is creating new business opportunities. Those who recognize how fundamentally people’s lifestyles are changing will be those who will benefit from this big shift in populations.
Cheap Paper Microscope to Boost Fight Against Diseases Development Challenges: To tackle diseases in the developing world, the most important first step is diagnosis. Without effective diagnosis, it is difficult to go to the next steps of either treatment or cure. While much attention is given to the high costs involved in treating and curing ailments, screening for diagnosis is also expensive, especially if it involves lots of people. Anything that can reduce the cost of diagnosis will free up resources to expand the number of people who can be checked, and help eradicate contagious diseases.
Asian Factories Starting to go GreenDevelopment Challenges: Media headlines have recently highlighted the growing air pollution crisis in Asia’s expanding cities. This is caused by a mix of factors – the growing number of vehicles, coal-powered factories, people burning dirty fuels to heat their homes, and poor enforcement of standards – and has severe consequences for human health. If it’s not tackled, more and more countries will see large rises in respiratory problems, cancers and early deaths from pollution-caused illnesses (http://www.nrdc.org/air/).
Reality Television Teaches Business Skills in Sudan Development Challenges: Learning how to thrive in a market economy does not necessarily come naturally. But for young people who have grown up under a different economic system or known nothing but economic chaos, learning business skills can give them the tools to get on in life.
Popular Chinese Social Media Chase New Markets Development Challenges: China has a vast and growing market for the Internet and mobile devices. Over the past decade that market has been largely confined to China – most businesses have had enough domestic demand and opportunities inside the country to keep them busy.
The BRCK: Kenyan-Developed Solution to Boost Internet AccessDevelopment Challenges: Using the Internet in Africa has its challenges, as anyone who has worked there knows. Issues can include weak Wi-Fi signals, slow Internet service providers, electricity outages and power surges that can damage or destroy sensitive electronic devices.
Women Empowered by Fair Trade Manufacturer Development Challenges: There is sometimes a great deal of negativity surrounding the issue of manufacturing in Africa. Some claim the risks of doing business are too high or that the workers are not motivated enough. But one garment manufacturer is out to prove the skeptics wrong. It pays decent wages and gives its mostly female workforce a stake in the business in a bid to drive motivation and make it worthwhile to work hard.
Global South Trade Boosted with Increasing China-Africa Trade in 2013Development Challenges: It was announced in January 2014 that China has surpassed the United States to become the world’s number one trading nation, as measured by the total value of exports and imports. This new economic behemoth also continued to grow its trade relationships with Africa.
India 2.0: Can the Country Make the Move to the Next Level?Development Challenges: With the global economic crisis threatening to cause turmoil in the emerging markets of the global South, it is becoming clear that what worked for the past two decades may not work for the next two.
“Pocket-Friendly” Solution to Help Farmers Go Organic Development Challenges: Interest in organic food and farming is high, and organics have become a growing global industry. The worldwide market for organic food grew by more than 25 per cent between 2008 and 2011, to US $63 billion, according to pro-organic group the Soil Association. That is an impressive accomplishment given the backdrop of the global economic crisis, and evidence that people value quality food, even in tough times.
Cheap Farming Kit Hopes to Help More Become Farmers Development Challenges: Food security is key to economic growth and human development. A secure and affordable food supply means people can meet their nutrition needs and direct their resources to improving other aspects of their lives, such as housing, clothing, health services or education.
New Cities Offering Solutions for Growing Urban Populations Development Challenges: Across the global South, new cities are being dreamed up by architects, city planners and governments, or are already under construction. Two new urban areas being built offer lessons for others in the global South. They both deploy intelligent solutions to the combined demands of urbanization, growing populations and rising expectations.
Creating Green Fashion in China Development Challenges: China is the world’s largest manufacturer (Euromonitor) and the largest clothing maker, producing a quarter of all textiles and clothing. It is a global fashion production hub, and many major global clothing brands have their products made there – whether they admit it or not.
Biogas Digester-in-a-Bag Brings Portability Development Challenges: Securing energy sources that are cheap (or free) and renewable can significantly reduce the cost of living for the world’s poor. The cost of fuel for essentials such as cooking and lighting can quickly eat up household incomes.
Powerful Solar Light Spurring Income-Making Opportunities Development Challenges: A clever innovator from India has built a highly durable solar lantern that also doubles as a mobile phone charger.
Global South Urbanization Does Not Have to Harm Biodiversity Development Challenges: How to balance fragile ecosystems with rapid urbanization will be the challenge for planners and governments across the global South in the coming years. The urbanization trend is clear: the world’s total urban area is expected to triple between 2000 and 2030, with urban populations set to double to around 4.9 billion in the same period (UNEP). This urban expansion will draw heavily on water and other natural resources and will consume prime agricultural land.
All-in-One Solar Kiosk Business Solution for Africa Development Challenges: Kiosks are ubiquitous throughout commercial areas in the global South. These highly efficient little business outlets enable small-scale entrepreneurs to sell necessary products without the expense of renting and running a shop.
Ugandan Fish Sausages Transform Female Fortunes Development Challenges: What to do when your food production enterprise is just not making much money? It is a common problem in the global South, where farmers and fishers often struggle to survive and can face the threat of bankruptcy and destitution when trying to provide essential food for their communities.
Woman Restaurant Entrepreneur Embraces Brand-Driven Growth Development Challenges: The journey of Zhang Lan is the tale of an entrepreneur who exemplifies the story of globalization. She has gone from working many part-time jobs while studying overseas, to becoming one of China’s most successful food entrepreneurs.
Better by Design in ChinaDevelopment Challenges: In recent decades, China has been known more for its inexpensive manufactured goods than as a producer of high quality products. But this is changing as the country seeks to move up the economic chain.
Energy-Efficient Wooden Houses are also Earthquake Safe Development Challenges: In Argentina, an innovative housing project has married good design with energy efficiency, earthquake resilience and the use of local materials and labour. As energy resources continue to be stretched around the global South, innovative building designs will be critical to the creation of sustainable housing for the future.
Chinese Building Solution for Rapidly Urbanizing Global South Development Challenges: The global South is currently experiencing the biggest surge in urban population ever seen in human history. This transformation from urban to rural is happening in many different ways across the global South. Some countries have highly detailed plans and are building new cities from scratch, while other countries feel overwhelmed by their booming urban populations.
Diaspora Bonds to Help Build up Infrastructure Development Challenges: Many people are aware of the significant role played in global development by remittance payments from migrant workers working in the wealthy North to the global South. But they may not be aware of the significant sums migrant workers have saved in bank accounts in these wealthy countries. Across the global South, efforts are underway to lure these sums back to home countries to boost development efforts.
African Supercomputers to Power Next Phase of Development Development Challenges:Information technology developments in Africa have long lagged behind those in other parts of the world. But the transformation being brought about by the widespread adoption and use of mobile phones – each one a mini-computer – and the expansion of undersea fibre optic cable connections to Africa are creating the conditions for an exciting new phase of computing growth on the continent.
Africa to Get Own Internet Domain Development Challenges: Africa is in the midst of an Internet revolution that is set only to accelerate. The continent is one of the last places to experience the information technology revolution that has swept the world in the past two decades.
Geothermal Energy to Boost Global South’s Development Development Challenges: The geothermal heat produced by the earth’s molten core is a resource receiving more and more attention across the global South.
Free Magazine Boosts Income for Rickshaw Drivers Development Challenges: In the bustling, congested cities of Asia, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws are common forms of transport. Smaller, cheaper and more nimble than cars, they play a key role in the transit infrastructure, helping to get people to work and to get around.
Design Collaborations Revitalize Traditional Craft Techniques Development Challenges: Keeping alive traditional craft techniques and methods in the age of globalization is a tricky balance to get right. As countries seek to increase living standards and income, traditional craft-making methods are often jettisoned in favour of attracting manufacturing and other high-value activities – meaning rich and potentially lucrative skills can be lost.
Profile of African Innovators Continues to Rise Development Challenges: A mix of developments is proving that African innovators no longer need to see themselves as lone operators working in isolation.
The Water-Free South African Bathing Solution Development Challenges: As the world’s population grows from its current 7 billion to a projected 9 billion in 2050 (UN), competition for access to the Earth’s resources will become fiercer. The most essential resource for life on the planet – and an increasingly precious resource – is water. Water is necessary for the very survival of humans, animals and plants, and is also used in vast quantities by industries and farms.
Mobile Phone Shopping to Create Efficient Markets across BordersDevelopment Challenges: An anticipated game-changing revolution in African trading set for 2013 is getting one innovative business very excited.
Egyptian Youth Turns Plastic Waste into FuelDevelopment Challenges: The challenge of finding alternate fuel sources is capturing the imagination of innovators across the global South. As the world’s population increases – it recently reached 7 billion (UN) – and the number of people seeking a better life grows in turn, the energy demands on the planet are pushing up competition for existing conventional fuel sources.
Shopping and Flying in Africa’s Boom TownsDevelopment Challenges: As economies across Africa grow, the continent still has a long way to go to create infrastructure to match people’s rising expectations of what a modern, prosperous life looks like.
Teenager Uses Technology to Protect Livestock from Lions Development Challenges: In Kenya, a teenage Maasai(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people) inventor has developed a way to chase lions away from livestock that doesn’t harm the lions. It is a common practice to kill lions when they threaten or kill livestock, and this has led to a precipitous drop in the local lion population at Nairobi National Park(http://www.kws.org/parks/parks_reserves/NANP.html/), near the country’s capital, Nairobi. Lions are a significant tourist attraction for Kenya and the population decline is a threat to the future of the tourist industry.
African Innovation Eco-system Taking ShapeDevelopment Challenges: How to increase the rate of innovation in Africa? And specifically, innovation that actually improves people’s lives and reduces poverty. It is a hard question to answer, but some are putting in place the building blocks of a 21st century innovation culture by riding the information technology revolution as it rolls across Africa.
African Fuel Pioneer Uses Crisis to InnovateDevelopment Challenges: Crisis, as the old saying goes, is also a window of opportunity. And there is one African entrepreneur who knows this better than most. Daniel Mugenga has been on a journey of innovation that has led him to become a pioneer in the emerging new field of algae technologies. The story of how he got there is a testament to the power of using business to both solve problems and make profits.
Indian Entrepreneur Brings Dignity to Poor Women Development Challenges: Driven by the revelation that his wife was torn between spending money on milk for the children and buying commercially manufactured sanitary napkins, Indian innovator and inventor Arunachalam Muruganantham embarked on a long and intensive journey to find a solution. His achievement – a simple machine – is bringing dignity to poor women and providing them with a much-needed income source.
Turning Human Waste to Fertilizer: An African Solution Development Challenges: While South Africa has been free of the racist Apartheid regime since the mid-1990s, the expected boost to living standards for the majority black population has not been as widespread and as quick as many had expected.
East Africa to get its First Dedicated Technology City Development Challenges: An ambitious scheme is underway to create a vast technology city on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.
Indonesian Wooden Radio Succeeds with Good Design Development Challenges: One Indonesian industrial designer has pioneered an innovative business that has rejuvenated the economy of a farming village and improved the sustainability of local forests – and he’s doing it all with wood.
Gobi Desert Wine to Tackle Poverty and Boost IncomesDevelopment Challenges: In the arid Gobi desert spanning the two Asian nations of China and Mongolia is a bold attempt to make wine and reduce poverty. The environment is harsh, with temperatures swinging from sub-zero winter cold to sweltering summer heat. The desert is also home to high winds and notorious dust storms that plague China’s capital Beijing every year.
Mauritanian Music Shop Shares Songs and FriendshipDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, traditional music stores selling vinyl records, tapes and CDs (compact discs) are closing down. Digital downloads distributed over the Internet and mobile phones make it unnecessary to build a music collection in these hard formats.
Global South Eco-cities Show How the Future Can BeDevelopment Challenges: The world is currently undergoing a high-stress transition on a scale not seen since the great industrial revolution that swept Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today’s urban and industrial transition involves many more people and is taking place on a greater proportion of the planet. With rapid urbanization comes a demand for middle class lifestyles, with their high-energy usage and high consumption of raw materials.
New Journal Celebrates Vibrancy of Modern Africa Development Challenges: Africa has seen huge changes to its communications and media in the past five years. The rise and rise of mobile phones, the expansion of the Internet and the explosion in African blogging and social media, on top of flourishing print and broadcast media, all bring an increasing range of options for telling African stories and increasing dialogue.
An Innovator’s ‘Big Chicken Agenda’ for AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Increasing the quantity and quality of food in Africa will be critical to improving the continent’s human development. And a key element in giving Africa a more secure food supply will be boosting science and knowledge on the continent and making sure it is focused on Africa’s needs and situation.
New Swimwear for Plus-size Women in BrazilDevelopment Challenges: Brazil is well known for its stylish swimwear, with styles usually targeted at young women and those with more conventional, media-friendly body shapes. But now a company is making visiting the beach more comfortable and empowering for plus-size women.
Havana’s Restaurant Boom Augers in New Age of EntrepreneursDevelopment Challenges: Cuba, the Caribbean island nation known for its 1959 revolution and its tourism industry, is undergoing a shift in its economic strategy. The country has had heavy state control of its industries and business activities since the country adopted the official policy of state socialism and joined the Communist economic sphere headed by the Soviet Union.
Global South’s Rising Megacities Challenge Idea of Urban LivingDevelopment Challenges:The world crossed the threshold from being a majority rural world to a majority urban one at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The reason for this is the fast-growing urban areas of the global South. And this is having a profound affect on how the world’s people live.
Frugal Innovation Trend Meets Global South’s Innovation CultureDevelopment Challenges: There is a trend occurring across the global South that some are calling the next great wave of innovation. It has different names but many are dubbing it ‘frugal innovation’. Frugal innovation is basically innovation done with limited resources and investment. In short, innovation on the cheap but packing a big punch.
Battery Business Brings Tanzanians Cheap ElectricityDevelopment Challenges: Access to electricity is critical for making substantial development gains. With steady supplies of electricity, it is possible to read and study at night, to run modern appliances, to better use the latest information technologies and to work using time- and labour-saving devices. A home with electricity literally switches the light on modern life and gives a family huge advantages compared to those without electricity.
Global South’s Rising Economies Gain Investor Spotlight Development Challenges: A new book is arguing that the world’s attention should switch away from BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – and take another look at nations and regions elsewhere across the global South. It argues many are lodestones of future growth and prosperity in the making and will see dramatic changes over the next decade.
Hip-driven Pump Brings Water to Parched Fields Development Challenges:Finding ways to increase agricultural productivity is key to expanding food supplies and making farming pay. With the world’s population continuing to rise and becoming more urban, there is a pressing need to improve both the quantity and quality of food supplies.
Cooking Bag Helps Poor Households Save Time, Money Development Challenges: For millions of poor people around the world, life is lived on the economic margins and household and personal budgets are tight. There were 1.29 billion people in the world living on less than US $1.25 a day as of 2008 (World Bank), and 1.18 billion living on US $1.25 to US $2 per day. There was only a modest drop in the number of people living below US $2 per day – the average poverty line for developing countries – between 1981 and 2008, from 2.59 to 2.47 billion.
Help is at Hand for India’s Beleaguered Bus-ridersDevelopment Challenges:The website is a simple affair: a distinctive logo sits above a lean-looking booking system that allows users to enter their journey start and end destination, date and then click for available buses and prices. Its simplicity is deceptive: redBus is a smart technological solution to a very complicated problem in India: booking and buying a bus ticket. The service it offers – relief from a chaotic, frustrating and time-consuming task – is transforming the experience of travel in India.
China Looking to Lead on Robot Innovation Development Challenges: Since the 1950s, science fiction has been telling the world we will soon be living with robots. While robots have emerged, they have been mostly kept to heavy industry, where machines can perform dangerous, hot and unpleasant repetitive tasks to a high standard.
New Cuban Film Seeks to Revive SectorDevelopment Challenges: Since Cuba’s 1959 revolution, the country’s film sector has largely survived on the largesse of the state. The switch to Communism as the guiding economic model of the country after the revolution led, at first, to generous support to filmmakers. The government ranked cinema ahead of television seeing both cinema and television as the two most important forms of artistic expression in the country. But as state funding has dwindled in recent years, adventurous independent filmmakers have tried to keep the Cuban film tradition going using other sources.
India’s Modernizing Food Economy Unleashing New Opportunities Development Challenges: Increasing prosperity in India is reshaping the country’s relationship to its food. A number of trends are coming together that point to significant improvements to India’s long-running problems with food supply and distribution. This matters because India, despite its two-decade economic boom – and increasing middle-class population – is still home to about 25 per cent of the world’s hungry poor, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Kenya Turns to Geothermal Energy for Electricity and GrowthDevelopment Challenges: In an effort to diversify its power supply and meet growing electricity demand, Kenya is looking to increase its use of geothermal energy sources (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_electricity). Tapping the abundant heat and steam that lurks underground to drive electric power plants offers a sustainable and long-term source of low-cost energy.
African Afro Beats Leads New Music Wave to EuropeDevelopment Challenges: A surge in interest in African music in Britain is creating new economic opportunities for the continent’s musicians. The new sound heating up the U.K. music scene is “Afro Beats” – a high energy hybrid that mixes Western rap influences with Ghanaian and Nigerian popular music.
Venture Capital Surge in Africa to Help BusinessesDevelopment Challenges: Africa’s potential economic powerhouse lies in its small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa ebbs and flows based on the state of the global economy – and most of it is directed towards large enterprises and multinational companies.
Business Leads on Tackling Violence in Mexican City Development Challenges: The damaging affects of crime and violence can ruin a city. They act as a drag on efforts to increase wealth and improve living conditions, and a city that gets a bad reputation, especially in the age of the Internet, will lose investment opportunities.
Africa’s Tourism Sector Can Learn from Asian Experience Development Challenges:Africa continues to be seen as new territory for global tourism, yet it still is not even close to meeting its potential, according to a report by a South African think tank. In fact, many resorts and tourist areas are failing to fill up with visitors. This contrasts with the booming world tourism industry, which broke records in arrivals in 2011 (UNWTO).
Designed in China to Rival ‘Made in China’ Development Challenges: Harnessing the power of design to improve products and the way they are manufactured is a critical component of successful economic development. And the high export value of designing and making “computer equipment, office equipment, telecommunication equipment, electric circuit equipment, and valves and transistors” was flagged up as a priority for developing nations back in 2005 at a meeting looking for “New and Dynamic Sectors of World Trade” (UNCTAD).
Microwork Pioneer Transforms Prospects for Poor, VulnerableDevelopment Challenges: A pioneering technology social enterprise has found a way to connect people around the world to the new digital economy, transforming their lives and providing long-term employment opportunities. It is closing the digital divide in a very practical way, teaching new skills and, most importantly, providing income to the poor and vulnerable.
African Farming Wisdom Now Scientifically Proven Development Challenges: Increasing the agricultural productivity of Africa is critical for the continent’s future development, and the world’s. Two-thirds of Africans derive their main income from agriculture, but the continent has the largest quantity of unproductive – or unused – potential agricultural land in the world.
Vietnam Launches Low-cost, High-Quality Video Game Development Challenges: The creative economy offers huge opportunities to the countries of the global South. With the proliferation of new technologies – mobile phones, digital devices, personal computers with cheap or free software, the Internet – the tools to hand for creative people are immense. This begins to level the playing field and allows hardworking and talented people in poor countries to start to compete directly with those in wealthy countries.
Lagos Traffic Crunch Gets a New SolutionDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, traffic congestion is often accepted as the price paid for rapid development and a dynamic economy. But as anyone who lives in a large city knows, there comes a tipping point where the congestion begins to harm economic activity by wasting people’s time in lengthy and aggravating commuting, and leaving commuters frazzled and burned out by the whole experience.
New Kenyan Services to Innovate Mobile Health and FarmingDevelopment Challenges: Kenya is home to a vibrant innovation culture centred around mobile phones. While not all the services launched will be successful, the flurry of start-ups shows the country has the right combination of technical skills, bright ideas and cash to make a go of new services.
The fourth issue of Southern Innovator has launched online and in print. Order copies now for distribution. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baker Cookstoves – Designing for the African Customer Development Challenges: An innovative social enterprise is using design to create an energy-efficient cookstove for Kenya. By turning to an experienced Swedish architecture and design firm, the people behind the Baker cookstove wanted to make sure the stove’s design was as efficient as possible and relevant to the customers’ needs, while also making sure it is visually appealing and something a person would proudly want in their home.
Texting for Cheaper Marketplace Food with SokoText Development Challenges: An international group of graduate-social entrepreneurs from the London School of Economics (LSE) is pioneering a way to reduce food prices in Kenya using mobile phones.
Ethiopia and Djibouti Join Push to Tap Geothermal Sources for Green EnergyDevelopment Challenges:Ethiopia and Djibouti are the latest global South countries to make a significant commitment to developing geothermal energy – a green energy source that draws on the heat below the earth’s surface (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy) – to meet future development goals.
Tackling China’s Air Pollution Crisis: An Innovative SolutionDevelopment Challenges: China reached an undesired landmark in 2013. While the country’s impressive economic growth has amazed the world, it has come at a price: pollution. China recorded record levels of smog in 2013, with some cities suffering air pollution many times above what is acceptable for human health.
Ghana Wants to Tap Global Trendy Party Scene Development Challenges: Tourism is big business – and one of the most resilient parts of the global economy. Despite the international economic crisis that has wreaked havoc and increased unemployment and poverty in many countries since 2007, tourism is still going strong.
China Pushing Frontiers of Medical ResearchDevelopment Challenges: Cutting-edge medical research in China is promising to boost human health and development. Futuristic science is being conducted on a large scale and it is hoped this will increase the pace of discovery.
Perfume of Peace Helps Farmers Switch From Drug Trade Development Challenges: A tragedy in a time of war has led to a social enterprise that is creating jobs – and making the world smell a little better, too.
US $450 Million Pledged for Green Economy Investments at Kenyan ExpoDevelopment Challenges: Innovators working in the global green economy could benefit from over US $450 million in investment recently pledged at the UN’s Global South-South Development Expo held in Nairobi, Kenya.
African Fashion’s Growing Global Marketplace Profile Development Challenges: Tales of African global fashion successes have multiplied in the last few years. African fashion is seeing its profile rise as more and more shows and festivals boost awareness of the continent’s designs, designers and models. In turn, African fashion and design is being taken more seriously as an income and job generator, and as a sector able to weather the ups and downs of the global economy: people always need to wear clothes.
Cuban Entrepreneurs Embracing Changes to Economy Development Challenges: The Caribbean island of Cuba has gone its own way economically and socially since its revolution in 1959. The country has seen significant gains in its human development in the decades since, and can boast impressive education levels and good public health care.
Radical Drone Solution to Woeful Infrastructure in Poor CountriesDevelopment Challenges: Drones – unpiloted aircraft, formally called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – have long been used for military purposes. The U.S. military claims to have 7,500 drones – a massive growth from just 50 a decade ago – and has used them for surveillance and combat in conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Pioneering African Airlines Help to Expand Routes Development Challenges: The last decade has seen a revolution in African air travel. The number of air routes has grown and this has paralleled the economic growth across the continent. As demand has been strong for Africa’s resources, it has also fueled a consumer boom that is benefiting an increasing number of people.
Affordable Space Programmes Becoming Part of South’s DevelopmentDevelopment Challenges: Space: the final frontier. At least that was how heading off into the stars was portrayed in cult television and film series Star Trek. While many countries are working to raise living standards and eradicate poverty on earth, some are also looking to space for solutions to earth-bound problems.
Solar Bottle Bulbs Light Up Dark HomesDevelopment Challenges: Finding ways to generate low-cost or free light has captured the imagination of innovators across the global South. The desire for light is strong: Light gives an immediate boost to income-making opportunities and quality of life when the sun goes down or in dark homes with few windows.
China Sets Sights on Dominating Global Smartphone MarketDevelopment Challenges: The rise of smartphones – mobile phones capable of Internet access and able to run ‘apps’ or applications – is the latest wave of the global connectivity revolution. Mobile phones rapidly made their way around the world to become almost ubiquitous – the most successful take-up of a piece of communications technology in history – and now smartphones are set to do the same. The number of mobile phone subscriptions in the world surpassed 6 billion in 2012 (out of a population of 7 billion) and, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the number of mobile phones will exceed the world’s population by 2014.
Poorest Countries Being Harmed by Euro Currency Crisis Development Challenges: The ongoing economic crisis in Europe is forecast to harm the economies of the world’s poorest countries if it continues, according to a study by the United Kingdom’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) (odi.org.uk).
Solar-Powered Mobile Clinics to Boost Rural Healthcare in AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, innovative thinking is finding new ways of using solar power technology to bring electricity to underserved areas of the global South. Innovators are experimenting with new technologies, new business models and new ways to finance getting solar power into the hands of the poor.
Vietnamese Google Rival Challenging Global Giant Development Challenges: Information technologies are creating new business opportunities across the global South. As more and more people gain access to the Internet in one form or another, opportunities to offer them services also increase.
More Futuristic African Cities in the WorksDevelopment Challenges: It has been well documented that China is undergoing the largest migration in human history from rural areas to cities. But this urbanization trend is occurring across the global South, including in Africa, as well. According to the UN, more than half the world’s population already lives in cities, and 70 per cent will live in urban areas by 2050. Most of the world’s population growth is concentrated in urban areas in the global South.
Haitian Coffee Becoming a Hit with American ConnoisseursDevelopment Challenges: The Caribbean country of Haiti has had to deal with the twin challenges of recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2010 while also pulling itself out of the economic and social chaos that has resulted in its status as the poorest place in the Western hemisphere.
New 3D Technology Makes Innovation Breakthrough and Puts Mind over MatterDevelopment Challenges:Revolutions in technology are placing more and more power into the hands of the individual, and 3D printing and fabrication machines are opening a whole new chapter. These devices come in many forms, but they all do one thing: they can manufacture pretty well any three-dimensional object on the spot, from digital plans. These machines come in many sizes, from factory scale to smaller, home versions which are no bigger than personal computer printers, such as the well-known MakerBot Replicator 2 (makerbot.com).
Mobile Phone Microscopes to Revolutionize Health DiagnosticsDevelopment Challenges: Mobile phone usage has increased hugely across the global South in the past five years. In Africa, the number of mobile phone subscribers reached 545 million in 2013, while there are 3.5 billion mobile phone users in Asia and the Pacific (ITU). Some 93 million people in Africa and 895 million in Asia and the Pacific have mobile phone Internet access (ITU).
Small Fish Farming Opportunity Can Wipe Out MalnutritionDevelopment Challenges: Pioneering work to boost diets across the global South is turning to the smallest of fish. While small in size, tiny fish are packed with nutrition when eaten whole, as they are in many cultures. Often these fish come packed with vitamin A, iron, zinc, calcium, protein and essential fats – all necessary elements to eradicate malnutrition and hidden hunger, especially among women and children.
Burgeoning African E-commerce Industry Full of OpportunityDevelopment Challenges: Africa has seen huge change since 2000 in the way people access information and do business electronically. The most championed accomplishment has been the widespread take-up of mobile phones. This has given birth to countless entrepreneurs and innovators who are using phones to help people, do business and sell goods and services.
Staple Foods Are Becoming More Secure in the South Development Challenges: Finding ways to ensure food security in countries experiencing profound economic and social change and stress is critical to achievement of development goals. Food security is crucial to ensuring economic development is sustainable, and it is vital to long-term human health. Just one bout of famine can damage a generation of youth, stunting brain development and leaving bodies smaller and weaker than they should be.
African Innovators Celebrated in PrizeDevelopment Challenges: Innovation is increasingly being recognized as the key to tackling long-standing development problems in Africa, as well as across the developing and developed world. While it is easy to draw up a list of challenges facing the global South, it takes a special person to see not problems but solutions.
Solar Solution to Lack of Electricity in AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Electricity is critical to improving human development and living standards. Yet, for many in the global South, electricity is either non-existent or its provision is patchy, erratic, unreliable or expensive.
Time-Tested Iranian Solutions to Cool and Refrigerate Development Challenges: Keeping food cool is critical for human health. No matter what the climate, a cool environment will prolong food preservation, stave off spoilage and lower the risk of food poisoning. This is crucial for the poor because it means they can reduce food waste and avoid illnesses caused by food poisoning. Diarrhea is a common problem when people do not have access to refrigeration for their food.
US $1 Trillion Opportunity for Africa’s Agribusinesses Says ReportDevelopment Challenges: As the world’s population continues to grow – surpassing 9 billion people by 2050, the United Nations estimates – and more and more people move to urban areas, producing enough food to feed this population will be one of the biggest economic challenges and opportunities in the global South.
Ambitious Schemes Hope to Advance Economic DevelopmentDevelopment Challenges: Sometimes it takes a bold, fresh start to speed up economic and human development goals. Taking a large-scale approach has been used around the world, either establishing new trade zones or even a new city.
Indian Initiatives to Make Travel Safer for Women Development Challenges: Shocking assaults on women traveling in India have galvanized innovators to find solutions. One solution that is proving successful is to establish specialist taxi services for women. As a happy additional benefit, these taxi innovators are transforming the taxi experience, introducing more ethical practices such as honest fares, professional and safe driving habits and clean, hygienic and comfortable taxis.
Kenya Reaches Mobile Phone Banking Landmark Development Challenges: Financial transactions and banking with mobile phones have been a Kenyan success story.
Online Education Could Boost African Development Development Challenges: Education is recognized as a major catalyst for human development. During a high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html) in 2010, UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – pointed out the necessity of making rapid gains in education if all the MDGs are to be achieved. The goals deadline is 2015 – just two years away.
African Digital Laser Breakthrough Promises Future InnovationDevelopment Challenges: For decades many African countries have experienced low investment in research and development (R&D) and scientific innovation. One of the few nations to benefit from a sophisticated university network and research and development sector was South Africa. It still ranks top on the continent for funding R&D and its high number of scientific journals.
Preserving Beekeeping Livelihoods in Morocco Development Challenges: The clever combining of tourism and long-standing beekeeping skills has revived a local craft and is also helping to preserve the ecology of Morocco. Beekeeping, or apiculture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beekeeping), has two clear benefits. Bee products, including honey, beeswax, propolis, pollen and royal jelly can be a valuable source of income. The other benefit is the critical role bees play in the ecology by pollinating flowers and plants as they go about their daily business.
A New African Beer Helps Smallholder Farmers. Development Challenges: Africa’s growth in the past decade has held steady despite the trauma of the global economic crisis and the tumult of the “Arab Spring” in several countries of North Africa. African economies are growing because of a number of resilient trends. These include growing regional trade links, greater investment in infrastructure and the remarkable rise of China to become Africa’s number one trade partner, pushing the United States to second place (Technology + Policy). This has given birth to a growing consumer marketplace and consumer class – some 300 million people earning about US $200 a month (Africa Rising).
Boosting Tourism in India with Surfing Culture Development Challenges: Tourism has experienced decades of growth and diversification and is now considered one of the fastest-growing economic sectors in the world. According to the UNWTO – the United Nations World Tourism Organization – modern tourism is “a key driver for socio-economic progress.”
Made-in-Africa Fashion Brand Pioneers Aim for Global SuccessDevelopment Challenges: African fashion brands have not always been the first place fashionistas turned to when shopping for new clothes or shoes in developed economies. While Africa has long been a source of inspiration in contemporary and traditional fashion, the continent has had a weak reputation for manufacturing and selling mass market global fashion brands.
Kenyan Book Company Brings Online Sales to East Africa Development Challenges: The Internet has revolutionized retail sales in many developed countries – and nowhere more so than for booksellers. The ability to offer an almost unlimited supply of books through a website is revolutionizing the way people shop and giving life to books long out of print or by unknown authors.
African Innovation Helps Make Banking Transactions SaferDevelopment Challenges: As economies grow in Africa, more and more people are conducting their financial transactions electronically. This can be either through mobile phones and digital devices, or through the hole-in-the-wall of the automatic teller machine, or ATM.
New Apps Make Driving and Travelling in Egypt Easier, SaferDevelopment Challenges: Mobile phones are ubiquitous across the global South. They have spawned whole new business opportunities and changed the way people solve problems and find solutions.
Bangladesh Coffin-Maker Offers an Ethical Ending Development Challenges: Few people want to think about death, and many are ill-prepared when it happens to a loved one or friend. But it will happen to us all – and growing ethical and environmental concerns are reshaping the way many deal with the inevitable event. More and more people are seeking a lower-cost option for being disposed of that also does not harm the environment.
Thai Organic Supermarkets Seek to Improve HealthDevelopment Challenges: A Thai business is working hard to expand access to organic food in the country. It sees this as part of a wider campaign to improve health in the country – and its success has caught the attention of the government, which wants to turn Thailand into a global health destination.
Global South Experiencing Transportation Revolution Development Challenges: Away from the news headlines, a quiet revolution has been taking place in public transportation across the global South. As cities have expanded and grown, they have also been putting in place public transport systems to help people get around and get to work.
Global South’s Middle Class is Increasing Prosperity Development Challenges: The global middle class is on the rise – and this is creating both challenges and opportunities. As poverty rates have come down across the global South, many countries have seen a rise in the proportion of their population categorized as “middle class”. Globally, being middle class is defined as a person able to consume between US $4 a day and US $13 a day (ILO).
Angolan Film Grabs Attention at Film Festival Development Challenges: The power of the creative economy to transform lives, livelihoods – and perceptions – should never be underestimated. Creativity can transform the image of places and situations often seen in a negative light. A film from Angola is shining a light on the country’s music scene and showing the vitality of the nation in the wake of a long-running civil war.