the mif blog

Stories of inspiring entrepreneurs and organizations, discussion and commentary of new trends in private sector development, and the latest events and publications.

Must social enterprises grow to have a large-scale impact on society?

By Nobuyuki Otsuka

By Nobuyuki Otsuka and Claudio Cortellese

There is a proliferation worldwide of “social businesses” that generate goods and services that benefit society as well as financial profits. Likewise, we’re seeing more social business accelerators—specialized intermediaries that provide social entrepreneurs with business tools and approaches to accelerate the growth of an idea that is assumed to create a positive impact. Development professionals who work on building up the private sector are curious about what accelerating a social business means. But perhaps a more fundamental question should be: is it necessary to accelerate a social business in the first place? 

International development organizations and poverty measurement—are we doing it right?

By Nobuyuki Otsuka



Recently, the MIF published a study on how microfinance institutions and others in Latin America and the Caribbean use Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) to measure the impact their work has on reducing poverty. The study also got me thinking about how my colleagues and our counterparts in international development use this tool ourselves—and about how other, perhaps unexpected, entities use it.

Can development work “run lean”?

By Nobuyuki Otsuka


On June 25th in Santiago, Chile, I had the privilege of listening to Ash Maurya. Along with Erick Ries and Steve Blank, Ash is one of today’s most popular “rock stars” on the topic of entrepreneurship. He was a keynote speaker at this year’s National Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation, organized by SOFOFA, the Chilean Federation of Industry - one of Latin America’s most influential private sector organizations.

Ash’s book, “Running Lean,” has become the most useful practical guide for millions of entrepreneurs in the world. Of course, in my own presentation right before his, I did not fail to say “Lean Startup” out loud in my last slide (he caught right on to that!).

Organ donations, gym memberships, and savings commitments: A new approach to financial inclusion

By Nobuyuki Otsuka

I have seen this picture presented three times by Sendhil Mullainathan, a Harvard professor of economics, who says that economists observe strange phenomena and try to rationalize them with theories, but there are some that are not so obvious.   

Innovating Innovation? A report from Cordoba, Argentina

By Nobuyuki Otsuka

The entire audience in the conference room at the Hotel Sheraton laughed at the picture of a “mini-fan attached to chopsticks” that Argentinian freelance consultant Eduardo Kastika showed at the Innovation Summit held on May 21st in Cordoba. It was highly unusual to see more than 450 participants from reputable Cordoba-based firms – uptight, well-dressed corporate executives – intensely listening to Eduardo speaking about “innovation.” So what is new in the already “worn out” topic of innovation?