A year ago this month, I attended my first public-lecture at the London School of Economics (LSE) titled “Wealth Creation in Developing Countries”. Being at Cambridge, one is spoilt by the number of quality speakers and lectures in our midst, but for a more political view and closer to policy – LSE is a great choice.  For more information, you can check out the ever-changing and lively LSE line up here: LSE Public Events

At the October 12, 2010 UK Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell announced that UK Department for International Development / UKaid will work together with the private sector on international development. He set out a vision “for a world where development is embedded through inclusive economic growth, where wealth creation is the route out of poverty and where the private sector is the catalyst.” A copy of his speech can be found in PDF Here.

The next obvious question is How? Development is complex, and building inclusive economic growth is not easy as we see the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor in many fast-developing economies.

January 2, 2011 announcement of the DFID private sector department open for development & business.

We had the pleasure to host the Head of the new DFID Private Sector Department. Mr. Gavin McGilivray in Cambridge last night October 13, 2011 to explain to us the answer to that exact question, How? and to talk us through the DFID private sector strategy. (the link will take you to the PDF strategy report). He spoke as part of the Gates Scholar Society Distinguished Lecture Series.

Gavin covered 9 themes of the strategy in 30 minutes with 30 minutes of Q&A. Summary of main points under HOW DFID plans to work with the private sector:

– recognition that working in partnership is key

– getting more private sector DNA into DFID: to listen to business and to recruit business-minds

– importance of evidence : emphasis on transparency and documenting results

– value for money

– measuring impact of DFID work

And the two core principles driving the approach:

1) Dedication to poverty reduction: UK International Development Act stipulates by law, all activities conducted must aim to reduce poverty

2) UK aid is untied: DFID aid is tied to poverty reduction only, not to promoting UK trade or other commercial or political ends

Perhaps it is my conviction that business can be an innovator and a catalyst in social change that led me to enter the lecture with an existing bias. However, I exited the lecture wondering about the entrepreneurs in developing countries whom I have met: poverty is not a conducive environment for business, for all the entrepreneurs’ passion and convictions, any progress in lowering barriers and risks for small businesses can be welcomed.  Traditionally, barriers have decreased with the passage of time of slow-changing government policies or in areas of interested by multi-nationals only. So what if now small, medium-enterprise (SME) barriers are lowered by “non-traditional” aid programs? Lower-away!


Happy Thanks-Giving Today…

When I was a teenager, I remember reading a phrase from a magazine: “Life is better lived Together” – I am not quite sure what the advertisement was for – but I remember pausing to think. Then I started noticing that prizes and competitions usually had prizes in pairs :  a pair of tickets for a concert, a free get-away for two, a family pack of treats for four, etc.

I’ve thought of this phrase more often as I’ve grown older – and it has changed the way I gift. For birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions – I have been gifting friends and family more “experiences” rather than “products” and in most of these experience-type gifts, it sure is better when shared!

But today, on Canadian Thanksgiving 2011 I think this phrase also means something more.  It doesn’t just apply to the special days and experiences, it applies to the everyday.  Good, bad, the beautiful and the ugly – everyday is an experience better lived when shared. #giving #thanks – #everyday.

Back in March, I wrote a 2- year update on a topic close to my heart – Social Venture Capital for Health – it was nice to see how the world has changed its perceptions on the need to embrace risks in innovations and engage the private sector with pull incentives.  Reflecting today on the summer that has passed, it seems like 2009 and 2011 have a lot in common.

Two years ago in 2009, I travelled to Rwanda for a health project, and on my last day visited the local university in the capital, Kigali – and proposed the idea of a business plan competition for students to apply their “entrepreneurship theory” learned in class to the real world. Two years on in 2011, I travelled to Rwanda with 4 other brilliant folks to run a week-long entrepreneurship training conference called Rwanda Entrepreneurship Week (REW) and to follow up on the business plan competition, and on my last day, visited the same hospital where I volunteered in 2009.

What came about after a simple presentation in a classroom in 2009 – I co-founded a business plan competition along the lines of the famous MIT 100k challenge and Cambridge University Entrepreneurs developed at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) called the African Innovation Prize.

The Africa Innovation Prize has been successfully running for 2 years at KIST with over 100+ student team entries. There have been 6 honourable mention prizes awarded for “Best Idea under 200 words” and 2 grand prize seed awards given for student ventures.

2010: Rwanda Environmental Design and Implementation Limited (REDI) with Mr. Bertin Harerimana and Mr. Jean-Baptiste Dushimiyimana to make a decompostable toilet for rural villages. [side note: Bertin and Jean-Baptiste were students in that first KIST class I presented to in 2009 asking them if they thought business plan competitions were a good idea – It was really nice to see them in person again!]

2011:  HP&A Eden Flowers Ltd by Mr. Patrice Habinshuti and Mrs. Marie Louise Uwimbabazi. The goal of the business is to create a horticultural business. The business will be focused on production and supply of horticultural items (products department) and providing assistance to agricultural cooperatives and farmers in training and advisory programs (services department – and opportunity to hire KIST students!).  The Eden flower project will meet the needs of a growing Kigali city, providing construction and cleaning companies with needed flowers, ornamental plants and trees.

Our team travelled to Rwanda this summer to run Rwanda Entrepreneurship Week – a week long entrepreneurship training and education conference for 150+ Rwandan university students.  It was an experience that was both inspiring and humbling. After nine months of hard work planning for REW: brainstorming, organizing, fundraising, pulling together curriculum and workshop leads, planning logistics – it all came together within this one week July 25-30, 2011.

Prior to getting to Kigali, we had over 200+ students register online for the conference through our facebook and website – but we were not sure how many students were actually going to come on the first day – because we had advertised to universities across the country. And then exactly at noon, they came… students from 5 different educational institutions, some travelling two hours by bus, some rushing from their university across town to get there for our conference… Amazing! I was overwhelmed by their enthusiasm, spirit and eagerness to learn. I was also extremely touched by their gratitude and understanding. And so as the room began to fill, our team tried to source chairs from all over the building to squeeze into the conference room. What we had-thought was a week-long conference for 100 ended up having 150+ students every day!

More details about the student entrepreneurship conference and the program of events can be found on the AIP blog – but what you can’t see neatly laid out on the program is the teamwork demonstrated by Sarah, Alex, Baillie, Jackie, Julia.  We are a diverse team, and we knew that from the beginning, each with a different major at Cambridge, each with different interests, side-rants and passions. However, what united us was this love for entrepreneurship and the belief that if we acted in the spirit of opening opportunities, good karma would follow.  Man, this team knew how to execute: Planning a conference for 150 people in a country 5000 miles away without stepping foot on the ground until 4 days before the start of the conference – Everyone pulled through, Rwanda Entrepreneurship Week 2011 added wood (+skills!) to the already burning fires within entrepreneurial students… wohoo!

REW 2011 @ KIST, Kigali Rwanda- Murakoze!

And a sneak peak into Plans for 2012…

a) Taking African Innovation Prize nationwide across 3 national Universities in Rwanda: Kigali Institute of Science & Technology, National University of Rwanda, School of Finance & Banking

b) Exploring opportunities to establish African InnovationPrize business plan competitions in partnership with universities in Sierra Leone

c) Out of REW 2011 was born a Kigali-based Student Entrepreneurship Club – promotion of year-round Entrepreneurship activities aligned with academic curriculum

 At the GBC Impact Conference earlier this month, Sarah Brown, the global patron of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood made a statement to urge businesses to help in the fight for maternal health.  This follow-up blog post is to shed some light on this particular Millennium Development Goal (MDG 5) and share some innovations and interventions I have learned in recent months.

*Premise: The lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy and childbirth in Africa is 1 in 22, while it is 1 in 120 in Asia and 1 in 7,300 in developed countries.

The White Ribbon Alliance is an international coalition which pushes for change to make childbirth safe for women and newborns. It has 15 national alliance organizations and is a growing global movement in 152 countries, amplifying the voices of women in areas where they have been traditionally ignored. Join in your country!

Women Deliver works globally to generate political commitment and financial investment for fulfilling MDG 5.  This organization further pushes the agenda in that investment in women pays in spades for global development and economic opportunity for all.  If the World Bank asserts investment in girls’ education is the best buy against poverty, then let’s ensure women live.

Muskoka Initiative – Launched at the June 2010 Canada-hosted G8 Summit, the new partnership focuses on maternal, newborn and child health. The initiative mobilized $7.3 billion commitment from 2010-2015 for MDG5.

Now, after clicking and learning about the first two advocacy organizations and then learning the shift in political will from the G8 summit  – wonder what action can individuals/organizations take?

Check out Maternova – a global portal that showcases tools and ideas that save mothers and newborns. Why I like this organization: – it recognizes the problem of the status quo, it tracks innovations, packs and sells low-cost tools for front line health works and also maps maternal health facilities. It “maximizes resources and empowers efforts” for all stakeholders in MDG5.

For interested scientists and technology innovation fans: check out Maternova’s database of health innovations (adaptable for variety of contexts/environments).

For social enterprise fans, love that this entrepreneurial organization is backed by social venture capital!

Social Venture Partners Rhode Island

S.E.VEN Fund

& Foundation funding from MacArthur Foundation

Public-private mix of funding and two streams of revenue-generating income makes me think Maternova can genuinely scale and be sustainable in the efforts of MDG 5.  Nice example of business model innovation. Kudos.

Please add any other MDG5 Advocacy campaigns/organizations as a link below and any individuals/organizations with a proactive and innovative response to help progress maternal health.

GBC Impact

JFL, NEW YORK CITY – I will be covering this year’s Global Business Coalition’s 10th year anniversary conference from New York City June 1-2, 2011 as a Global Health Ambassador (GHAs). Follow our team’s work on twitter @GBCNews.

One of the conference sessions focuses on companies from the innovative developing countries and the heavy hitters of the emerging markets: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. These companies may not be household names, but I wanted to introduce them here to encourage discussion and be a primer before the session.

The panel will be moderated by Deloitte Consulting.

CapitalBio Corporation: a life sciences company headquartered in Beijing, China. It leads and commercializes innovative products for clinical diagnostics, food-safety testing and other life-science applications.

Avantha Group: is a $4 billion leading Indian business conglomerate with diverse business lines in 10 countries and 20,000 + employees. Avantha’s head of CSR will discuss partnerships to promote social development.

The Russian Managers Association – is a Russian NGO/business union that provides help to the Russian business community to integrate into the international economy and promotes dialogue between government and businesses and advocates for Russian businesses in Russia and abroad.

DNA Genotek – is a company that optimizes ease of collection of high-quality biological samples required for diagnostic testing.  DNA Genotek products are marketed worldwide and support thousands of customers as they achieve breakthroughs in genomic research, in diagnostics laboratories, in the pharmaceutical industry and in personal genomics.

Reading the brief background introductions of the speakers and company websites – am thinking the topic of partnerships will be up for discussion. International partnerships at home and abroad… Can developing countries build innovation systems for health? For further reading, this Science 2005 article illustrates the scientific and moral imperative for innovative developing countries to act (Morel, 2005).

Leave comments/questions below and for live coverage of GBC Impact 2011: follow me on twitter @juliafanli

Rarely have I been so excited about an innovative global health financing initiative than: Carbon for Water (yes, that is right, it doesn’t even have the word health in the name!)

Carbon for Water is what I would call a second-generation innovative global health financing tool that combines the powers of the carbon markets, new innovative technology to provide safe drinking water for millions affordably and provides exponential positive health benefits.

Innovative Financing For Health:

First Generation: UNITAID – using a small airline tax levy to collect funds that make up 64% of the procurement pool resource base to increase access to HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria drugs. This airline solidarity tax can be in the form of a fixed fee (as in Chile) or a differentiated tax depending upon economy or business class or domestic versus international flights (as in France). UNITAID is innovative because it has aggregated the powers of small individual taxes into a billion-dollar per annum procurement tool to guarantee sustainable, predictable markets for drugs. UNITAID is the first example of a global health agency to pursue public health outcomes through market impact.

Second Generation: Carbon for Water is a project of Vestergaard Frandsen, a European company specializing in complex emergency response and disease control products. VF has developed a LifeStraw water filter product that is a point-of-use water microbial treatment device for resource-poor settings.

Their forces for change are as follows:

– VF is distributing the LifeStraw water filtration system to 90%+ of households in the western province of Kenya in partnership with the Ministry of Health (May/June 2011)

– By utilizing the LifeStraw water filtration system, the rural villagers reduces their need to boil water to kill bacteria/viruses and to purify the water. This reduces the need to burn firewood to boil water (reduces carbon emissions)

– An independent accredited auditor will carefully monitor the use of the LifeStraw and carbon emission levels every 6 months post implementation. Carbon credits will be issued to VF after each verification round.

– VF will sell the credits to the Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VER) market and recoup its investment and sustain the LifeStraw program (this program is certified by the voluntary gold standard)

I think this is a great example of an innovative pay-for-performance business model by VF. The program is entirely funded by VF (estimated to be $25 million) and not dependent on any long-term aid or grant programs. The benefits are multi-fold:

-carbon emission reductions (good for the environment)

-cleaner water (numerous health benefits to combat MDG health goals and diarrhoeal diseases)

-reduced need for women to collect firewood to burn for boiling water (often cumbersome and dangerous)

-reduced need for burning indoors (decreasing chances of accidental burns and toxic fumes inhaled by women and young children).

-in one mechanism, Carbon for Water makes progress towards at minimum, 5 MDG goals!

This plan looks amazing on paper – high impact and affordable access for the individuals in low and middle -income countries and financially sustainable for the business in collaboration with the ministry of health.  Implementation is scheduled to begin in one-two months and watch this space for further updates… as I will be keeping a close eye on this program!

I have tried to keep this blog focused on financing global health and innovations in drugs, devices, vaccines and delivery.  I have rarely commented on climate change and water/sanitation – but this all just may change… as this second generation innovative financing mechanism shows, the ecosystem is increasingly interconnected. carbon x water x health!

It has been 2+ years since I moved from the beautiful west coast of Canada to the UK for graduate school at Cambridge. Cambridge is within close proximity (one hour by train) to one of the great cities of the world, London.

And even though London IS an amazing city in terms of art, culture, people-watching and financial markets, I have not found it a very kind city. It has thus far failed to inspire.  Even on #generosityday initiated by Sasha Dichter of Acumen Fund, I found the city nice, but not kind.

But this all changed on Tuesday night March 22 – when I attended my first YTFN (Youth Funding Network) event in London. YTFN is the younger sister of London based The Funding Network – where they run regular events open to everyone and where charities present and donors engage in friendly philanthropy. Their mission is to match everyday donors (no matter how small, medium or big) from all backgrounds who want to help cool social projects. Sounds cool and intriguing? you bet! But I still had no idea what to expect… and how it’s all done?

On this night, YTFN gave the microphone and spotlight to 3 social projects to pitch for 5 minutes each and answer Q&A for another 5 minutes.

Ayiitimoun Yo (providing professional psychological therapy to members of an orphanage), Tender (promoting healthy relationships based on equality and respect) and Most-Mira (weeklong reconciliation art festival)

When you enter the door of this funky bar space you buy a ticket for £10. This is ALSO your bidding voucher. After the 3 pitches are over, you use your £10 voucher to bid on your favourite project. Easy right? All three projects on the night were outstanding and YTFN makes it easy to support their cause. Not only was it easy, it was also super fun! The bar served food and drink (important for the post-work crowd) and huge kudos to Shak and his Goodfoot Dance team for the breakdancing entertainment.

The first lady I met at the event, also a YTFN-newbie, Amanda, turns to ask me: “Are you a young philanthropist?” I smiled (nobody has ever asked me that before!) – I guess we all are because we’re here. 🙂

Each social project walked away with approximately £1000+ raised from a roomful of people who genuinely cared and supported their cause (and come on, bidding is FUN!). This is supporting grassroots social change at its finest. YTFN also allows projects to come back and give updates on their projects (so we heard from one of the previous projects as well).

I walked back to the tube stop and the train station with one message in mind: You changed my mind tonight, London – You can be kind too.

It is with tremendous excitement that I write this post – almost two years to do the day that I started the BioBuzz blog – based on a integrated theme of innovation, finance and health – I am both amazed and excited about what has happened since March 2009 (and what’s going to happen in the next 5-10 years).

Two years ago, I returned to graduate school to complete a Master’s in Bioscience Enterprise. The highlight of the course was an Cambridge-MIT exchange with my classmates, and we attended a study-tour of companies in Boston, MA – one of the global hubs of healthcare innovation.  We met Dr. Bill Rodriguez giving us a talk on his HIV-diagnostic company DaktariDx. Daktari Dx is a diagnostics company with a first product of a CD4 cell counting diagnostic machine to help with HIV/AIDS diagnoses and treatment.

In one hour, Bill’s story of Daktari’s development transformed my entire thinking behind healthcare commercialization business models.  25 classmates and I inspired by Bill’s talk,  argued, discussed and debated different ways that healthcare technology companies can raise product development financing when their target markets are in low-income countries. Heck, it’s difficult enough to find risk capital to finance biotech/pharma enterprises in rich, developed countries, what happens when market “pull” demand is diminished by poverty? Our discussions overflowed into the rest of our study-tour, and became the initiative to start this blog to keep the conversation going, and subsequently… a few months later, my into my decision to pursue a PhD in this exact topic: Financing Global Health.

MARCH 2009:

Our first gut instinct was to say who best in the field today can think about Social Venture Capital targeted at improving health at the Bottom of the Pyramid (primarily low and middle-income countries) – Gates Foundation seemed the obvious pioneer-to-be in March 2009. And our arguments for it were detailed in my Gates Ventures(?) post.

Followed by a preliminary survey of the field and other active players in social venture capital in It’s About Precedence (including Aga Khan, the Brainstorm Prize/Legatum and Google Ventures – announced March 31, 2009, very timely)

Over the Easter-term break of my MPhil course, I went home and shared my thoughts with an outstanding group of young professionals in Vancouver on this matter of who finances the healthcare product development gap? at a great Whiteboard Party

As fate would have it, my flight back to graduate school in Cambridge was scheduled to depart from Seattle instead of Vancouver and I thought it would be the best opportunity I would have to ask the Gates Foundation directly  the questions that had been discussed. And so with the kind help of Dr. Tachi Yamada, I was able to Continue the Conversation at the Gates Foundation offices over a lunchtime meeting with Dan Kress and Erik Iverson. It was emphasized that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was primarily a grants-giving organization and participated in very few other “push financing” program-related investment (PRI) methods. I nodded and tried to understand why Gates Foundation did not jump at the thought of leading social venture capital for health – I read all their suggested readings and ever since have kept a special interest in this area, and the conversation has really progressed… fast forward –>

MARCH 2011:

March 8 “Gates Foundation Makes First Equity Investment in a Biotech Startup” screamed the headlines and statement from official press release – and I jumped up with huge grin! It has happened!! a $10M USD equity investment into Liquidia Technologies, a biotech based in North Carolina specializing in platform technology to engineer particle-based vaccines.  (And truth be told, yes I did a happy-dance). It may only be one-company today, this month, or this year – but it is proof that the minds of funders are changing and giving hope to all health entrepreneurs out there (both developed and developing-country based)  that if the science and technology is good enough, there are new sources of risk capital coming to bridge the “valley of death”.

Interestingly, as I read more, I realized that the first equity investment by the Gates Foundation occurred the month prior – Feb 14th – “Gates Foundation Makes $2 Million Program-Related Investment in Inigral” – to build an educational social media platform to keep kids in school in their USA Schools program division.

The times are changing… and social investment capital are starting to catalyze the huge potential in private market partners to do good and to do more.

The Gates Foundation investment this month is a definite signpost in the sand – something for all social foundations and developmental aid organizations to consider. Perhaps social venture capital’s time has arrived (for health)… Let me also highlight some of the developments that happened between March 2009-March 2011 (each worth recognizing in our inter-connected ecosystem):

June 4, 2009: International Finance Corporation (IFC), Africa Development Bank, Gates Foundation, German DEG create a new private equity fund investing in Africa’s health sector.  It is part of IFC’s Health in Africa effort intending to mobilize up to $1 billion USD in investment and advisory services over 5 years. The fund is managed by emerging markets private equity firm Aureos Capital. The Health Fund’s launch was also in the same year as IFC launching its asset management division (May 2009) to allow private third party capital (including mighty sovereign funds and pension funds) to co-invest in IFC transactions. “It is a new avenue to connet investment capital with developing country opportunities, to provie better jobs and livelihoods, along with good returns” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

December 23, 2009: World Health Organization issues Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property Report of the Expert Working Group on Research and Development Financing (executive summary version). The report from the expert working group included recommendations for both health financing options and mechanisms for disbursement and coordination. The WHO as per their Global Strategy and Plan of Action are continuing actively continuing efforts in this space.

March 7, 2010: Alex Friedman, out-going CFO of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation writes an OpEd in the Financial Times detailing how banks and other players in the private capital markets can help the world’s poor.

October 8, 2010: President Obama and Secretary Clinton called on US Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase investments and engage in game-changing innovations and established Development Innovation Ventures. DIV will invest resources in promising high-risk, high-return projects, but are often difficult to undertake using traditional Agency structures (ie. grant-giving body).  It is led by Chief Innovation Officer Maura O’Neill and Michael Kremer, the Harvard Professor who authored “Strong Medicine” and I admire as a proponent of the Advanced Market Commitments (AMCs) for health.

December 13, 2010: Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Development Cooperation launches PSI: Private Sector Investment Programme to support innovative investment projects in emerging markets. The fund seeks to support investment partnerships implemented by Dutch (or foreign) company with a local company.

January 6, 2011: The UK Department for International Development (DFID) announces New DFID Private Sector Department to engage with with private enterprise to improve the prosperity and well-being of poor people.  Including healthcare firms!

February 23, 2011: UN Foundation unveils Pledge Guarantee for Health (PGH) as an innovative financing mechanism to speed and streamline foreign assistance and make global health supplies more affordable for recipient countries.

That is all that I have for now… watch this space for more updates and twitter: @juliafanli

As the world kicks off World Economic Forum in Davos 2011, it has been a busy week. Top headlines in the week include Egypt protests and the state cutting off the internet to its citizens, countdown to Will and Kate’s wedding in England, China’s annual human migration to rural villages for Chinese New Year and continued talks to guard financial stability and secure the economy at Davos.

But the headline news of the week for me is the report from the Inspector General’s Office of the Global Fund – where my two worlds collided: global health & accounting.

The Inspector General’s Office is the equivalent of an audit team following upon the $13 B of health support and aid that the Global Fund has distributed since inception in 2002. (total approved funding is more, at $21.7B). This team was heavily reinforced and expanded in 2010 under the leadership of John Parsons. In a short timeframe, the team has undertaken audits or investigations in 33 of the 145 countries where the Global Fund has grants.

I appreciate the fact-based content that the media and press has included in its reports, but I disagree with the headlines that rally a call to arms over the findings:

AP Enterprise: “Fraud plagues global health fund”

Times Online: “Fraud inquiry rocks £4 billion world Aids fund”

MSNBC: “Fraud plagues global health fund backed by celebrities”

The Global Fund has issued an official statement on their website from Executive Director Michel D. Kazatchkine stating that while any loss of financial aid is unacceptable, the current discovered lost amount is 0.3% of the $13 B disbursed so far.

Let’s face it – fraud happens. Fraud, corruption, embezzlement of all sizes small, medium and large happens in international development. I think the reason the world and donor countries are so taken aback by the Associated Press article that originally broke the story is that the Global Fund has openly issued its internal findings to the public.

Every UN agency has an office of internal audit or inspector general – how often do we see those reports? UNDP manages 50% of Global Fund grants and conducts internal reports annually – so “internal” in fact that it is not even fully shared with the Global Fund itself (AP article).  How often do we see a public reporting from WHO? UNICEF? Or for that matter… the performance of grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation by their internal auditors (or aka management consultants who help chart their portfolio performance in international health development)?

I fully agree with Michel Kazatchkine and John Parsons, who speaking as Inspector General says: “The distinguishing feature of the Global Fund is that it is very open when it uncovers corruption. That is its comparative advantage.”

The most balanced article I read through the lot is by Andrew Daley on Huffington Post. It’s got the facts on the countries listed and the misappropriation of funds and it’s pointed out the fact the story CAME from the Global Fund. And one additional comment – can we not continue to harp on these 5 countries specifically pointed out in the report? The IG office has only done 33/145 country grant audits! If other Global Fund recipient countries are reading the reports in disgust, they too should examine their internal processes, share best practices and stop any leaks they can now!

Fraud and corruption, by nature is covert, hidden, discreet. It is never easy to uncover blatant fraud and I for one, would like to give some KUDOS to John Parsons and his audit team for doing what they have done. I’m sure through the process there were double checks, triple-checks of fact, corroboration as well as evidence-backed discrepancy schedules. These “ordinary auditors” have been quite extraordinary in doing what they do.  It is not easy going into an hostile, covert environment and trying to follow up large amounts of donor funding in resource-poor environments lacking infrastructure.  Thanks for getting the truth out there, so that solutions may develop quickly.

Perhaps this is what the aid world needs – more ACCOUNTABILITY. Less screaming, face the facts and donor countries – please do not freeze your funds – the patients still need you and the Global Fund is doing its best to protect YOUR positive social impact.

When I was a child, I was a fan of the city library – a frequent borrower and I treasured my library card.

As a doctoral scholar now, I find I don’t go nearly enough (and instead rely on work spaces provided by living arrangements or departments).

But yesterday, I found myself working in not one, but two beautiful University libraries.  As I sat there (and shivered a little bit – old libraries have old heating systems as to be expected), I realized how I missed the  magic of libraries.

  • peace and quiet
  • surrounded by other thinkers / scholars / perhaps procrastinators
  • a wonderful free service to explore any topic that you wish
  • the rustling of papers and small amount of working stress
  • to know others in your exact position have sat there before you and pondered
  • and my FAVOURITE piece of magic: when tired or in need of a break, the ability to walk up and down the aisles and peruse all the thousands of titles on the shelf… and find new random titles/topics that you can fall in love with. I love finding books not exactly in my study area – but relevant and interesting.
  • Yesterday, I found a book I had been meaning to read for a long time, but had not gotten to:  “the Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb to explain high impact, rare events…. Okay, I went to the library to write a paper. And came out with a paper AND new ideas!

I often look around my environment and am thankful for many opportunities my University ecosystem has to offer.

I would like to see these opportunities be offered to scholars everywhere, in any discipline!

Open a new corner of your mind: Read a book. (and thanks to the organizations out there who are expanding the network of traditional and micro-libraries around the world!)