Good idea: from food waste to job skills

Food waste is a growing problem. By some estimates, about one-third of the food the world produces is lost or thrown away. But what if we could tackle food waste while also delivering skills and professional development? An enterprising British firm is doing this by selling supermarket surpluses at a discount and using its stores as mini-community centres, where customers … Read more…

Water worries: equipping ourselves for the future

When I’m thirsty, there’s a glass in my kitchen I love drinking from. It’s a simple flared tumbler with a thick base containing a bubble of air. In it, water looks clean and pristine and seems to taste far better than when drunk from a plastic bottle. But as I filled the glass the other day, I found myself wondering … Read more…

Career shift: What will be your second act?

The other day, I stumbled across a 1987 copy of a glossy interiors magazine called Dimensions in Living. It was a scary moment. This was the issue I worked on when I got my first job in journalism. Suddenly, I realised I’d been working for more than a quarter of a century. In fact, without noticing, I’d passed the 25-year mark. … Read more…

Growing pains in the sharing economy

As a business writer, I’ve got used to the corporate jargon. But at one time I found it pretty confusing. Why did everyone want to share information with me? Were they going to divide it into pieces, like a cake? Once I was asked if I’d share my phone. But how was that possible without going back to the old … Read more…

Cities: Celebrating the Beautiful Chaos

Anyone who flew into Hong Kong before 1998 will remember it well – that terrifying but thrilling sensation as your plane careered towards Kai Tak airport through Kowloon’s forest of skyscrapers. As it descended, the aircraft flew so close you could look through apartment windows to see what people were watching on TV. It seemed as through at any moment, … Read more…

Social innovation … from the inside

While in Kenya, GSK research scientist Graham Simpson noticed that, without effective diagnostic tools, people were dying from curable diseases. It sparked an idea. GSK is now working Johns Hopkins University to develop cheap, user-friendly diagnostics kits that may also provide a new product line for the pharmaceuticals group. Simpson’s idea united social objectives and corporate goals. Yet many companies … Read more…

Revolution or evolution? Gene Tempel reflects on philanthropy’s future

He founded the world’s first school of philanthropy. He’s been watching trends in giving for the past quarter of a century. And this month, The NonProfit Times named him among the sector’s 50 most influential leaders. So what are the biggest shifts Gene Tempel sees in the world of philanthropy? For one, he notes a growing overlap between the activities … Read more…

New forces shaping micro-services for the poor

This month, Women’s World Banking closed a $50.6 million private equity fund, which will be largely invested in microfinance institutions supporting women. But if private equity plays a growing role in microfinance, it is one of many new forces shaping the services available for the poor.  For a start, technology could increase dramatically the impact of the small loans offered … Read more…

Wanted: non-profit matchmakers

The past six months have seen corporate merger and acquisition activity reach its most feverish levels since 2007. Not so in the non-profit sector. Despite funding difficulties and the benefits of sharing knowledge and back-office expenses, the sector continues to grow, with US non-profits now outnumbering lawyers. So what’s holding back the marriages? The arguments for consolidation are certainly compelling. … Read more…

CEO perspective: Jack Larsen, UnitedHealthcare Medicare and retirement

For many companies, a corporate awakening comes with a crisis. At UnitedHealth Group, a stock options scandal prompted some senior management soul searching. “It was painful,” recalls Jack Larsen, chief executive of UnitedHealthcare Medicare and retirement. “But we can’t lose sight of the fact that we are a very social business, carrying out social policy.” The stock options scandal, which … Read more…