PhilanthroPhotos: Intro

January 6, 2011

I’ve been working on my first real entrepreneurial pet project.  In attempt to gain some feedback, I’m gonna post a comprehensive business plan in the next couple of days. In the meantime, I thought I’d post the initial idea in much shorter form, in hopes of gaining some criticisms, some suggestions, and initial thoughts from potential consumers (or contributors): you.

PhilanthroPhotos: Art. For a cause.

PhilanthroPhotos will be a non-profit photography business that will catalyze photographers’ ability to support charitable causes. Contributing photographers (amateur or professional) will “donate” non-exclusive rights to their photographs to be printed, framed, marketed, and developed into a range of photo products (e.g. coffee table books, calendars, coasters, stretched canvas). Ideal contributors may be amaetur photographers that have spectacular photographs, but would otherwise not seek to sell or market them because of the expense of time and money.

Where does the philanthropy part come in? Each product will include a GlobalGiving gift card that allows the consumer to donate to a cause of their choice. Additionally, PhilanthroPhotos can also partner with local NGOs and donate the charitable revenues directly to their organization.

The items will be cause-marketed as social goods: a way to add to the household decor, support budding artists, and donate to a charitable cause. A good example of a similar product: the incredible Blue Planet Run coffee table book.

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2010: Blog Stats

January 3, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010; pretty cool stuff. Last semester was pretty brutal as far as classes go, but I’m hoping that this Spring will bring a series of new posts. I’ve already got outlines going for two, so get excited.

In the mean time, here’s a high level summary of the “overall blog health”:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 39 posts. There were 14 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 97 views. The most popular post that day was SPOTLIGHT CHARITY: charity:water.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, stumbleupon.com, twitter.com, linkedin.com, and collegeblender.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for global income inequality, justin berk, global income disparity, global income distribution, and world income inequality.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

SPOTLIGHT CHARITY: charity:water October 2009
2 comments

2

About Me. October 2009
1 comment

3

No One Actually Knows About Income Inequality September 2010

4

Microfranchising Health Care April 2010

5

MLK Day – Inspirational Quotes January 2010


Peapod: A Means for Food Justice

November 23, 2010

I admit that I have done little research before writing this post, but there is an idea that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently and may update over the next week:

The Peapod grocery delivery service could end access-related food security issues in the urban United states.

For those of you that don’t know about Peapod (i.e. for anyone that, unlike New Haven, actually has a nearby grocery store) – it’s a grocery delivery service run by Stop and Shop. You can order just about anything that Stop and Shop would usually have in their grocery stores and all your groceries will be delivered to you in plastic bags, often within 24 hours (you can pick a 2 hour delivery time window)

You can buy everything: milk, meat, fruit, vegetables, cheese, coffee, spaghettio’s, marshmallows, beer, and even items outside the common graduate student’s diet. I’ve used Peapod for a few months now and have been really happy. Others claim that bananas show up brown or the lettuce goes bad quickly. Regardless, it has made life a lot easier for me: a graduate student without a car and limited food budget.

The public health implications of this service are incredible. Low-income families often suffer in a automobile-dominated society. If you don’t have a car, you can’t drive to the grocery store. Low-income neighborhoods aren’t a great market for big supermarkets, so you don’t find many Whole Foods in inner-city Detroit. These “food deserts” are becoming a major social problem and were recently featured by a  New York Times Magazine article:

The term is generally used to describe urban neighborhoods where there are few grocers selling fresh produce, but a cornucopia of fast-food places and convenience stores selling salty snacks.

Food injustice” has become a buzzword term featured in several articles to discuss the disparities that exist in the US regarding the access to groceries:

If you don’t have access to groceries, you don’t have access to healthy foods, and therefore you don’t have access to proper nutrition. In case you haven’t read a newspaper in the past ten years: obesity is a pretty massive problem in the US, particularly affecting low-income families. If you can improve access to fresh produce, you can improve diets, you can improve health (or so the arguments goes).

Clearly, Peapod isn’t a perfect solution:

  1. There is a delivery cost that might make grocery delivery financially unavailable to the low-income families that need access to groceries. Government subsidies (or Stop and Shop philanthropy) could make this a non-issue.
  2. Without education, access means nothing. If you have access to all these new healthy foods but just buy beer and marshmallows, your health probably won’t improve (though apparently a twinkie diet can make you a lot healthier).
  3. Rural areas are still kinda left in the dust. Peapod’s grocery delivery probably is not a cost-effective way to improve access to foods to the boondocks.

But there is still a lot of potential.

I think there is an ideal pilot project here somewhere that combines:

  • food stamps
  • Peapod promotional materials
  • education materials regarding diet (including quick, cheap meals cookbook)
  • some kind of subsidy to cover delivery costs

Someone make it happen.


No One Actually Knows About Income Inequality

September 22, 2010

h/t to Paul Kedrosy for posting about an interesting income inequality article:

Dan Ariely et al. conducted a recent research study on people’s perceptions of US income inequality. They had three major findings:

  • Respondents dramatically underestimated the current level of wealth inequality.
  • Respondents constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution.
  • All demographic groups—even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy—desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo.

Just recently in a Global Health course, we were shown the breakdown of global income inequality. It’s also pretty ridiculous. In fact, 40% of world’s wealth is owned by 1% of the population. In fact, the richest fifth of the population receives 82.7% of the total world income.

 

One can also see that the disparity is widening:

Data taken from (Dikhanov 2005)

In a recent Financial Times comment, Kermal Dervis (Director of the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution) argued that this global income inequality is not only immoral, it threatens future global economic growth:

Less inequality in income distribution may not only be ethically desirable – it may be a necessary condition to resolve global macroeconomic fragility and ensure more sustained growth. It is time to analyse income distribution also with a macroeconomic policy perspective.

 

 

References:

Dikhanov, Yuri. 2005. Trends in Global Income Distribution, 1970-2000, and Scenarios for 2015. Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). http://econpapers.repec.org/RePEc:hdr:hdocpa:hdocpa-2005-08.

 

 


A New Page on Microfranchise

April 16, 2010

Loyal readers,

I’ve added a new page to the site that includes a working draft of my senior research. The temporary title is:

Social Sector Microfranchising  in the Developing World: Using the Ideas Behind McDonald’s to Deliver Essential Medicines to the Poor

I post a working draft for a few reasons:

1) In the case that there are any readers out there that have interest in this field, perhaps my research could be beneficial to them

2) In the case that there are any critics out there that have feedback, input, or criticism, perhaps they can further enlighten my research

3) By publishing this work publicly, I feel more accountable for my writing. I wonder why open-source writing projects are not found more often on the internet. I, for one, would be very interested in each step of the writing process from leading experts in any field. Likewise, I imagine that a high volume of readers could offer  insight or new ideas to improve any piece of writing.

My thesis includes case studies on the HealthStore Foundation and Living Goods organizations.  They are amazing organizations that are addressing long-standing global health issues with innovative solutions through markets.


AIDS in the Elm City

April 9, 2010

Orginally published on 4/9/10 in the Yale Daily News:

The AIDS crisis is not over. In fact, it’s in our front yard.

Over 6,000 people in the greater New Haven community are currently living with HIV/AIDS. The disease affects every age group, every ethnicity and every sexual orientation. With 15,000 AIDS cases reported in Connecticut in 2007, the state has the ninth highest AIDS case rate per capita. AIDS is not just a global issue; it’s a local problem.

In the nearly three decades since the disease was first diagnosed, progress has been made. We have medicines, research funding and a fundamental understanding of the disease. For those on antiretrovirals, HIV is no longer a death sentence; for those with basic education, HIV is mostly preventable.

Yet even in the United States, stigma persists, discrimination abounds and misinformation continues to lead to unfounded prejudice against homosexuals, drug users and the HIV-positive community. Although HIV currently requires less medical maintenance than other chronic conditions such as diabetes, the social weight of a positive HIV test remains incomparable to other illnesses. Solving the current HIV epidemic in the United States requires more than pharmaceutical drugs, it requires a fundamental shift in how we view HIV and AIDS: a movement to end stigma and increase prevention.

Of course, progress has been made on this front as well. Many cities have needle exchange programs, and in 1998, the Supreme Court ruled it illegal to discriminate based on HIV status. This progress came as the result of a movement that made HIV/AIDS not just a disease but an issue of social justice. The group of people who spurred this movement —who educated the masses, who fought for equality — were not scientists or lawyers or teachers. They were passionate community members that recognized injustice and mobilized to do something about it.

We can continue that movement. Students, with their energy and vast social networks, are best equipped to raise awareness, lobby for change and fight for social justice. Speak up. Support the community. Donate to a cause. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Don’t be a silent friend.

Every April, hundreds of students and community members unite to hear live music, listen to inspirational speakers and walk through the streets of New Haven to raise awareness for the local HIV epidemic as part of the five-kilometer AIDS Walk. Sponsored by an organization run by Yale student volunteers, the walk has become a symbol of the community coming together to respond to a public health issue, promote individual and community wellness and help those most in need. The proceeds go to nine local charities that provide vital patient services, housing, education, hospice care and prevention projects throughout the city.

By walking together, students can leave a positive impact on the community. In the inspirational words of anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Help bring real change to your community, and the world.

Let the AIDS Walk be your first step.



Seeing Social Microfranchising in Action

April 8, 2010

An incredible (and short) article from Entrepreneur magazine that spotlights VisionSpring, a social enterprise that uses a microfranchise business model to distribute eyeglasses to the poor.

Microfranchising the Developing World: Microfranchising helps create a business model for distributing glasses in poor nations.