This book is the story of John Wood an ex-executive of Microsoft who founded "Room to Read", an NPO that promotes literacy throughout the developing world. Since its inception in 2000, Room to Read has established over 3000 libraries, constructed 221 schools, published 99 local language children's titles, donated 1.2mn English books, funded 2344 long-terms girl scholarships, and established 108 computer and language labs in developing countries (Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Laos, Sri Lanka, South Africa). What impressed me was not only the results but how they operate. In other words it is a model of the new breed of npos that are managed with professional business practices i.e., a management calling for scalable, sustainable and measurable results. The communities involved co-invest with Room to Read through the Challenge Grant Model for constructing the schools/libraries thus facilitating the long term sustainability of the projects. Also this book provides very good information on how to raise funds if one is building up an npo.
The 2007 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting starts today in Davos. This year's theme "The Shifting Power Equation" reflects the elements that are shaping the global agenda: the new power of the emerging economies, the increased leverage of commodity suppliers and the enhanced voice of individuals and small groups. Climate change is also high on the agenda. WEF brings in over 2000 leaders from business, politics, academia and civil society. The multimedia coverage of this meeting is quite amazing. One can see through their website any transcript or webcast, podcast and many blogs. Also for those interested in social entrepreneurship, one of the preconferences leading to Davos was the Schwab Foundation's Social Entrepreneurs' Summit in Zurich. I recommend the blog of Jim Fruchterman, also a well known social entrepreneur, who is covering both conferences.
This is not a new book (came out in early 2005) but it is a must read and one of the most educational books I read in 2006. Jeffrey Sachs provides a clear strategy on how to end extreme poverty by 2025. What I found most informative were the explanations on why poverty had not diminished but increased in some areas in Africa after decades of the so-called aid or perceived aid provided by the industrialized nations. Also it is a great update on the most influencing economic and business forces today as it covers extensively the news giants such as China, India and Russia.