Featured Posts

Brazil's Smartphone Census It is a country that has high levels of poverty and inequality and asks its citizens on the very first page of the national census if they use a hole in the ground or open cesspit for a toilet. Yet...

Read more

War on Want and the Bitter Taste of Tea Campaigning and advocacy group War on Want have just released a report on the pitiful pay and conditions that tea workers endure throughout the world. It's an industry that really hasn't changed a great...

Read more

Why India will never produce a $35 iPad or slate computer So I got quite excited when I read that the Indian Government had announced that it was going to produce an iPad/slate type computer powered by solar batteries with wi-fi and web-conferencing facilities...

Read more

Six Oranges Documentary: Bangladeshi Migrant Workers... My colleagues at Six Oranges have co-produced a new documentary which is directed by Goya award winner David Munoz. Tres Tristes Tigres (Three Sad Tigers) is the story about three migrants from the rural...

Read more

Mean Streets - Valencia Here's an experiment with pictures and video. I recently went to Valencia and looked to capture the city with a loose brief of Street Art and the things the tourist board would not want you to see. There...

Read more

Development

Brazil’s Smartphone Census

By admin | Posted on 29-08-2010

It is a country that has high levels of poverty and inequality and asks its citizens on the very first page of the national census if they use a hole in the ground or open cesspit for a toilet. Yet despite all of these obstacles, the Brazilian government has embarked on the world’s first fully digital national census. It has achieved this ahead of countries like the US whose digital trials failed and resulted in it reverting to an old-fashioned paper based census. The Brazilian census is another...

Development

War on Want and the Bitter Taste of Tea

By admin | Posted on 27-07-2010

Campaigning and advocacy group War on Want have just released a report on the pitiful pay and conditions that tea workers endure throughout the world. It’s an industry that really hasn’t changed a great deal since colonial times. In fact, WoW state that their first report on abuses in the tea industry go back 40 years and sadly they have to report now that things have not changed. The report challenges the large supermarkets who are cashing-in on a boom in tea sales to insist on better...

Development

Why India will never produce a $35 iPad or slate computer

By admin | Posted on 25-07-2010

So I got quite excited when I read that the Indian Government had announced that it was going to produce an iPad/slate type computer powered by solar batteries with wi-fi and web-conferencing facilities all for the princely sum of $35 a unit. The plan is to get 110 million of these units into the hands of school children in India. But this got the alarm bells ringing. I interviewed Nicholas Negroponte, (apologies if you get The Times’ paywall/registration page) the brains behind the One Laptop...

Multimedia

Six Oranges Documentary: Bangladeshi Migrant Workers in Dubai

By admin | Posted on 24-07-2010

My colleagues at Six Oranges have co-produced a new documentary which is directed by Goya award winner David Munoz. Tres Tristes Tigres (Three Sad Tigers) is the story about three migrants from the rural village of Rajbari, Bangladesh who travelled to the Middle East to seek their fortunes. Like many migrants they are at the mercy of middlemen and agents and are often exploited. The three tigers, in their own words, describe how their hopes were shattered by the ruthlessness of unscrupulous middlemen....

Multimedia

Mean Streets – Valencia

By admin | Posted on 20-06-2010

Here’s an experiment with pictures and video. I recently went to Valencia and looked to capture the city with a loose brief of Street Art and the things the tourist board would not want you to see. There was a fantastic exhibition called Mean Streets at the Valencian Institute for Modern Art which presented representations of cities through video, music stills and film. It inspired this little experiment. Stills taken on a rather restrictive 50mm lens on a Nikon D80. The video was shot on...

Development

Obama’s criticism of Wall Street banks extends to microfinance sector

By admin | Posted on 28-04-2010

Microfinance banks and their owners are no better than Wall Street banks and their owners. So says Jonathan Lewis a microfinancier, social entrepreneur and commentator. In an excellent article in the Huffington Post, Lewis makes the point that Barack Obama’s criticisms of the “bandits” of Wall Street (in the run up to passing stricter regulation of banking practice) are just as applicable to the profit-seeking microfinance business. He explains why the neat solutions offered...

Development

How the third world can help people like Bob Geldof?

By admin | Posted on 23-04-2010

Interesting ideas at the website Design for the First World where a competition is being held for designers and inventors in developing countries to help developed with their problems. Were you surprised or did you chuckle at the thought that people in developing countries might be able to help those in developed? Well the author (who is from a developing country) says that this is is just plain wrong and I would agree: “Design for the First World shouldn’t be funny. The phrase “Third World...

Six Oranges

We were in the London Evening Standard

By admin | Posted on 23-04-2010

Six Oranges, the production company of which I am co-founder and partner, had a story in the London Evening Standard newspaper last night. We’ve been working on a documentary which looks at the transformation and regeneration of Brick Lane and Shoreditch in the East End of London – especially through art, migration and gentrification. It’s a very hip and trendy area (disclosure – I live there!) and has attracted many people over the centuries. Historically, it has always...

microfinance

Microfinance: is 140 per cent interest reasonable on loans to the poor?

By admin | Posted on 19-04-2010

There was an excellent article in the New York Times last week which exposes the exorbitantly high rates of interest charged by microfinance institutions on loans to the poorest households. The article highlights lots of examples where microfinance is leading to interest rates as high as 130-40 per cent – way above mainstream market rates. I was alerted to the article by an industry insider who has become disillusioned with the way things have gone in the sector. He also suggested that I investigate...

microfinance

Venture capitalists fear microfinance is the next sub-prime

By admin | Posted on 02-04-2010

It’s not often that I’ve heard venture capitalists (VC) and private equity (PE) firms warn that markets might be overpriced and in danger of bursting. So it is with huge interest that I read of such warnings within the microfinance sector in The Times of India. A survey of 50 VC and PE firms in India found that three-quarters of the respondents fear the sector is getting ‘‘overhyped to a bubble-like proportion’’. It says that microfinance is one of the most attractive financial...