Blue Financial, a South African microfinance institution, just launched its Cashxpress product in Rwanda. The service is intended to help employed, yet low-income, individuals borrow money in emergency situations. According to the Blue Financial website, Cashexpress is unique since it will disburse unsecured loans of between 100 and 5,000 Rands ($13 to $677 USD) to existing customers who are faced with difficult financial situations, an opportunity that has thus far been the domain of loan sharks in the developing world. From press and company descriptions, Blue’s product operates similarly to payday loans common in the United States, a service that is often criticized because of the high interest payments charged to borrowers.
While microcredit continues to change lives in the developing world, it is worthwhile to consider these high interest rates. The published rate on an income generating loan from the Grameen Bank is 20%. By comparison, Americans pay around 15% on credit card debt. Of course, the proposition of lending money to people without credit histories or stable incomes involves considerable risk and microfinance companies must factor this into rate calculations. However, Kiva, the popular social giving site, recognizes that transaction costs account for a significant portion of expenses that microcredit institutions incur (Kiva, like Blue, does not post actual interest rates, an issue of transparency which may be a subject of a future post). As this field grows in size and popularity, it will be important to search for more efficient ways to deliver loans that ultimately decrease costs for customers.
David Abraham is an MBA candidate at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He is a founder of the Emerging Markets Club at Smith which seeks to build a greater understanding of free-market opportunites in frontier markets.
A California anti-immigration group has created a multimedia ad campaign blaming immigrants for climate change and environmental degradation in California. Californians for Population Stabilization, or CAP, argues that immigrants, legal and illegal, increase their carbon footprint four-fold when they move to the US and “Americanize” their consumption habits, thus exacerbating climate problems.
According to CAP President Diane Hull, “Californians [have] made significant progress in energy conservation over the last couple of decades. However, the progress has been mitigated by massive population growth over the same period, driven by immigration and births to immigrants.” Hull continues:
This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco Libris.
Triple Pundit was thrilled to take part in the green books campaign because we love reading and we especially love reading books that have been produced in an environmentally responsible way.
We reviewed Public Produce: The New Urban Agriculture, a book that lays out the public policy rationale for landscaping public lands with fruit bearing trees. Imagine if that shrub was replaced with an apple tree? It’s a pretty neat idea. Even better, this tome is printed on recycled paper.
At first glance, this doesn’t seem to have much to do with sustainable business, because the book argues for a shift in municipal policy. But Triple Pundit is a place where we love to talk about food and we’ve covered many businesses that deal with food innovation. The policy laid out in Public Produce has all the tenets of an innovative model: cost reduction, life improvement and a healthy a dose of “why haven’t I thought of that.” Author Darrin Norahl lays out all the problems with our current food production and distribution system: the dearth of affordable healthy food in the inner city and its connection to obesity; hunger; the 1500 miles the average piece of produce travels; outbreaks of food borne illness that sicken and kill people country wide and the environmental degradation associated with big ag. Then he provides an elegant solution:
For those who oppose any kind of meaningful action on global climate change, consider the latest findings on the cost of inaction.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world will have to spend an extra $500 billion to cut carbon emissions for each year it delays implementing serious action on global warming. This would be on top of the $10.5 trillion investment needed from 2010 to 2030 to boost renewable energy development and improve energy efficiency.
Of that $10.5 trillion, the IEA states that about 45 percent, or $4.7 trillion in investment will be in transportation. Just one more reason we continue to remain so bullish on the electrification of our transportation infrastructure, mass transit and high speed rail.
Think of it as a support group for data center gurus.
Better yet, think of it as a support group on steroids for data center gurus.
Data Center Pulse (DCP) is a non-profit, open source community where data center end users can share information, voice opinions, define innovative next-generation solutions, and ultimately influence activities and trends in the industry.
Members can participate in LinkedIn discussions, download program proposals and presentations, stay up-to-date with breaking IT news, watch informational videos, network, blog…and more.
Founded only a year ago (in September 2008), DCP already boasts 1,240 members, representing more than 600 companies, spread across 45 different countries. It’s an exclusive group of data center owners, operators and users — and in this uniquely specialized community, consultants or individuals with primary roles in a sales, marketing or business development capacity are noticeably (and purposely) absent.*
By David Zwerin, Sustainability Marketing Consultant
Photo Courtesy of Inhabitat
While researching the sustainability of data centers, I became frustrated with the lack of corporate transparency around the environmental impacts associated with their data centers. Many companies talk about how efficient their data centers are, but stop short at providing hard facts, data, and relevant numbers to authenticate their story.
Data centers have become the new Fort Knox, housing everything from Facebook photos to medical records, and data driven companies are unwilling, or so it appears, to share any environmental impact information about their data center. There is a belief that disclosing this information, competitors will reverse engineer the environmental impact data to shed light on the capacity of a data center to gain a competitive advantage.
As a result, there is an underestimated perception of the true environmental impact of data centers. To truly create innovation in this sector, more transparency is necessary to stimulate an industry-wide discourse on the true environmental risks of data centers, enabling companies to develop effective strategies and best practices for reducing the impact of their data management.
US Infrastructure ran an article last month about how much energy we use to power the Internet. The above is an in interesting representation of what that power consumptions looks like. From updating our Facebook profiles to reading the news to watching last night’s sitcoms, the Internet has subsumed nearly every aspect of our lives.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said this summer it would like to put climate change on a “Scopes trial.” However, the end of climate change denial is over, at least when it comes to the majority of large U.S. corporations. Three-quarters of the executives interviewed for a McGraw Hill study commissioned by Siemens Building Technology view sustainability as consistent with their company’s profit mission and engage in sustainability activities, double the amount in 2006. Over half (58 percent) believe sustainability will serve the financial performance of their company from 31 percent in 2006.
The economic crisis has supported and not deterred sustainability activity in the firms represented in the study. Over half (57 percent) believe sustainability practices are either unaffected or aided by a down economy. Only 32 percent view an economic crisis as an obstacle.
Energy savings is the most important driver toward sustainability, with 75 percent citing it this year, and 73 percent in 2006. Global influences increased as a driver with 38 percent in 2009, and 26 percent in 2006. Government regulations decreased as a driver with only 29 percent citing it, down from 40 percent in 2006. However, 72 percent expect it to become a requirement.
Over 80 percent of larger firms believe sustainability provides market differentiation, and over 70 percent expect sustainability efforts to retain and attract customers, and reduce the costs of doing business. Almost a third reported dedicated funding for sustainability.
Can fun make people exercise more? Can fun make people recycle more? Can fun improve safety? Won’t it be fun to find out? Now through December 15 TheFunTheory.com is sponsoring a contest to prove the concept that fun is the best way to change peoples’ behavior for the better. The site is looking for submissions of ideas and inventions that support the theory that people will change behavior for themselves or the environment–if making the change is fun.
The concept of positive reinforcement has been proven many times over. Pavlov proved it with his dogs, and every parent knows that children respond better to rewards than punishment. So why not apply the concept to environmental and social initiatives?
To inspire more people to take the stairs rather than the escalator at the Odenplan Subway Station in Stockholm, Volkswagon converted a set of stairs into piano keys. The novel concept increased stair use by 66%.
The 2009 Net Impact conference at Cornell is just around the corner. So many choices – 120+ sessions, keynotes, expo center, cocktail receptions, and networking opportunities. The choices can overwhelming. Two days can seem like a lot of time, but it will fly by and you don’t want to be left wondering what happened. So what can you do to maximize your enjoyment, learning, and career impact? Follow the 3P’s – Plan, Prepare, and Polish!
For those of you planning to addend NI09, please get in touch with us! We’d love to meet you. If not, the 3P’s of conference planning still apply to other events you might have in the works:
US corporate-funded astroturfing continues, like a game of whack-a-mole. Expose one of these vampire moles to the light and another one pops up in a different sector. A uniquely American enterprise, the common thread which seems to tie all astroturfing together is Congress. Threaten Federal legislation and up comes a bloody gopher. Have a look at Americans Against Food Taxes?: Who’s Really Fighting Preventative Medicine? for a recent example. Business significance: U5/C3
For many of us, the data center is something we all know exists; and as we have been reading more and more, it is something that needs “greening” to improve large corporations’ environmental footprints.
Yet, aside from the select few that work and think about data centers on a day-to-day basis, the majority of the public, business leaders, and even sustainability experts couldn’t explain how data centers work, let alone what it takes to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Over the course of the week, 3p will be showcasing the perspectives of experts and thought leaders in the data center industry, as well trend analysis, in an attempt to create a context for how they fit within the larger economic and environmental bottom lines.
Some years ago, energy was cheap. Few people in corporations paid attention to how much energy was consumed company wide, much less in data centers. More recently, however, several factors have changed this scene completely. These factors included much higher demands for computing and storage due to the rapid increase in online processing in both business and consumer sectors and, consequently, denser server concentration to maximize the use of space in data centers.
According to a 2007 EPA report, power consumption by U.S. data centers doubled between 2001 and 2006. In 2006, data centers used 1.5 percent of all the power consumed in the United Sates. Without any remedy, consumption will double again by 2011. As a testimony to this study, many operators have recently begun feeling pain at several points in their data centers, which are experiencing power shortages, high costs, and extensive needs for cooling.
By Dave Ohara, Data Center Consultant and Publisher of GreenM3.com
Photo Courtesy of Google
I have been writing on the Green Data Center topic for more than two years. After more than 1,000 blog posts, one of the things that I have found is the name “data center” doesn’t mean what most people who don’t work on them think they are. In the past, there was one corporate building that was the place where data was housed for the corporation. But now, that no longer is the case.
A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. New technologies and practices were designed to handle the scale and the operational requirements that came with the dot com boom. The standard for Fortune 500 companies now is to have multiple data centers around the world to provide information availability, disaster recovery, and reliability. What does it mean to have multiple centers of data? If you green the data center, what is actually getting greened? And how?
Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Energy and the Environment Romel Pascual said during a panel discussion at Opportunity Green 2009 that Los Angeles has begun a “serious conversation” about a feed-in tariff for the city. Feed-in tariffs, or FiTs, provide cash rebates for renewable energy fed into the grid — above the normal cost of electricity.
FiTs are popular in Europe; German has had a program for several years. But there are few places in the US with an FiT, Gainsville County, Florida, being one. If LA, the country’s second largest city, with the largest municipal electric utility, created an FiT, it would have a profound effect on the small-scale solar power market.
Pascual echoed acting Director of Los Angeles Water and Power Director S. David Freeman, who also mentioned an LA FiT at an Opp Green keynote speech this morning. The idea has come up in public meetings held to discuss LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s ambitious environmental goals. Said Pascual, “it’s on the drawing board.”
Freeman also mentioned LA possibly building large scale solar plants in the Owens River Valley, which was first reported in Triple Pundit last summer.
Los Angeles: Oct 28 – Oct 31 Sustainatopia Consisting of 5 Conferences and a broad-ranging Festival, SUSTAINATOPIA brings together the global ecosystem of social, financial and environmental sustainability like no other single event. Register here.
London: Nov 3 – Nov 5 Sustainable Brands London 2014 Connect with Sustainability Executives, Brand Strategists, and Design & Innovation Leaders as the Sustainable Brands London Conference convenes to drive the innovation that leads to enhanced business. Discount with code: NW3pSB14LRegister here.
New York: Nov 4 – Nov 6 BSR Conference 2014 BSR 2014 will explore how transparency can transform supply chains, energy and climate, consumer engagement, community impacts, and more. Register here.
Redwood City: Nov 12 Corporate Philanthropy Institute 2014 Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Northern California Grantmakers bring together many of the country’s leading CSR professionals to discuss changing expectations of corporate citizenship, strategic local and global programs and assessing the impact of community investments. Register here.
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