Why It's So Difficult to Get Rich and Help the Poor Simultaneously
InC. K. Prahalad's best-selling book, "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid," the subtitle "Eradicating Poverty through Profits",captures the rhetoric of many for-profit social entrepreneurs, as well as much of ICT-for-development, where the goal is to run a profit-making business that also serves the poor. Unfortunately, despite the great media attention given to social enterprises, there are actually very few examples of people or organizations who are getting rich while selling meaningful goods to the poor, particularly in ICT.
In his talk, Kentaro Toyama willexplore the reasons both for the rhetoric and the reality of social enterprise. He will also suggest that it is often counterproductive for aspiring entrepreneurs to think of the poor as customers, or for aspiring development workers to seek profits. For people genuinely interested in both goals, an easier way to achieve them is to separate the goals into two activities, undertaken either serially or in parallel.
Kentaro Toyama is a visiting scholar in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. He is working on a book that argues that increasing wisdom should be the primary focus of global development. In 2004, Toyama co-founded Microsoft Research India, where he started an interdisciplinary research group to understand how electronic technology could support the socio-economic development of the world’s impoverished communities. The group’s award-winning projects – including Digital Green, MultiPoint, and Text-Free UI – have been seminal in ICT-for-development research. Since 2009, he has been active as a vocal critic of the hype that pervades technology projects in international development. Prior to his time in India, Toyama did computer vision and multimedia research at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, USA and Cambridge, UK, and taught mathematics at Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana. He received a PhD in Computer Science at Yale and his bachelors from Harvard in Physics.
On the 18th of August, 2011 will be his first time to present this talk so lets give him lots of feedback and discussions.
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