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Archive for March, 2010

Today I leave for Thailand.  I’ll be spending the weekend in Bangkok, four days in Koh Penang, one night in Chiang Mai, and four days in Pai before returning to Bangkok for four more days.  On April 4th I fly to Rangoon in Myanmar for a ten-day trek through the kingdom.  I will be updating the blog whenever I get a chance.

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This is the third post of a threepart series on small- and medium enterprises.  It is the second of a two-part post.

Enterpreneurship training with Negros Women for Tomorrow

The other day I discussed six actions or programs a microfinance institution (MFI) can take to help clients convert their business from a micro-enterprise to a small- to medium enterprise (SME).  Today, I will cover the final six. (more…)

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“If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose- because it contains all the others- the fact that they were the people who created the phrase to make money. No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity- to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created.” – Ayn Rand

Wine on the beach tastes better when it's stolen.

I read this week that the victims of supervillains Bernie Madoff and R. Allen Stanford have joined forces to lobby congress to compensate them for their losses.  There are few people I have less sympathy for than the wealthy victims of a Ponzi scheme.  These are not people whose homes were destroyed in a flood.  They are not women whose husbands have died unexpectedly, leaving them widowed and poor.  Rather, they willingly gave their money to a crook who duped them into believing he could do what anyone with a basic understanding of the stock market knows is a mathematical impossibility.  With consistent annual returns of 10-12%, why bother with a savings?  Whether or not they were greedy, they participated in something called the market.  And as sure as day becomes night, the market rises and falls.  The victims knew this.  When it all came tumbling down, I’m sure it was a tough pill to swallow. (more…)

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Tomorrow is a big day in the Philippines.  For two hours during the day, the country grinds a halt.  The crime rate falls to zero, because the would-be criminals are shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the TV, watching a national superstar represent the Philippines on the world stage.  I’m talking about the pay-per-view fight between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey.  To say Pacquiao is anything less than a revered treasure here in country would be an understatement.  He is fighting for the welterweight title.   This fight took the place of the controversial bout against Floyd Mayweather, when the two fighters couldn’t come to an agreement about drug testing policies.  After much trash-talking from Mayweather and his father, Pacquiao talks about showing respect:

The Filipino champ insists he is not taking Clottey lightly. “Clottey is a good fighter,” said Pacquiao, who has won 11 consecutive fights. “He is so strong and he is bigger and taller than me.

“I don’t want to underestimate this opponent. I am going to do my best and give it a shot,” he added.

Clottey, for his part, said he is ready for whatever strategy the pound-for-pound king has set on him.

“I never crack before so I want to see if he can do that. But no matter what happens, I will still respect him,” said Clottey, a former International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight champion.

Pacquiao is also grateful for the Ghanaian’s respectful manner of addressing him. Just like the Filipino champ, Clottey’s refused to trade trash talk.

“I like this match very much because there’s no trash talk and we can be a good example to everyone,” said the Filipino boxing superstar.

Treat people with respect – the Filipino way.  Everyone should watch the fight tomorrow, ideally with some Filipinos.  It’s going to be great.

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One side benefit of coming to the Philippines has been that my music consumption has skyrocketed.  Here are the ten albums making the rounds lately:

1.  Percy Hill, “Color in Bloom”

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This is the third post of a threepart series on small- and medium enterprises.  It is a two-part post.

A month ago, I attended a conference in Manila sponsored by the Microfinance Council of the Philippine Islands.  I wrote briefly about the level of cooperation among the participants, but have yet to share what I learned.  The conference – titled “Operationalizing Social Performance Monitoring (SPM)” – brought together a dozen microfinance institutions (MFIs) and lenders from across the country to discuss best practices for focusing on the social mission.  In the microfinance world, theoretical solutions to problems, like how to focus on the poor and remain financially sustainable, are often incompatible with the nuanced realities on the ground.  This gathering offered a chance for MFIs to share what has worked and what has not, so that the microfinance community at large can be more effective at addressing poverty alleviation in the Philippines.

The keynote speaker, Prof. Ron Chua, functioned more as a facilitator and moderator than a lecturer.  He asked the MFIs to present a specific social goal and discuss the measures each would take to achieve it.  One nameless participant set an organizational goal of transitioning 30% of existing clients from micro-enterprises to SME (small- to medium enterprise) within five years.  They presented a laundry list of programs designed to aid in this process.  The underlying assumption behind each of these measures is that financial services (microcredit) must be complemented by the provision of non-financial services, including business development and support services and integrated community development.  Provision of financial services alone is not enough to bring people out of poverty.  This exhaustive list addresses all of the key issues in moving a client out of poverty.  I will present the first six here, and the remained six in the next post. (more…)

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Groundhog's Day for a man of the torah.

This past weekend I went with four coworkers and a lecturer at Ateneo University Business School to a province called Aklan.  I woke up at 5:00 AM Friday morning in order to catch the ferry to Iloilo at 8:00.  We drove five and a half hours north to Kalibo, where we stayed in Sampiguita Resort, “where it’s Christmas everyday.”  It is the vision of Sam Butcher, the American founder and creative genius behind the Precious Moments dolls – a collectible item so sweet it will make your teeth rot.

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