Could Social Impact Bonds Fight Slavery?

Social Impact Bonds as an effective way to tackle the age-old problem of bonded labour in India.

By Dallin Van Leuven, 20th April, 2015 

To pay off a family debt of only $50, 13-year-old Roghini was “mortgaged” to a family that made matchboxes in their home. Paid only 30 cents for every 1,500 boxes she made, Roghini worked alongside 20 other children for 11 hours a day just to try and earn enough to eat—though she often went hungry. The abusive treatment she received drove Roghini into such a deep depression that she tried to end her own life. Finally, three years after she was sold into slavery, a local group was able to pay off the debt and free her.

Millions of men, women, and children are working in India under similar conditions. India’s justice system has tried to free them for decades, to no avail. New strategies are needed where politicians and judges have failed. It is time for investors to step up. Continue reading

A Mozambican Newspaper With a Difference

The author brings to light a Mozambican newspaper – named @Verdade – which does not follow traditional financial models, and has in turn become a “tool for change”. The name of the newspaper curiously contains an @ symbol. Their English language website can be found here

By Roberto Valussi, 27th August, 2013

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the birth of a very rare creature in the contemporary media landscape: an independent, respected, profitable, popular and free newspaper. The square was circled not in some glitzy borough of London, but in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

The product in question is the weekly newspaper @Verdade (‘Truth’ in Portuguese, the country’s official language), which has become the most read national newspaper since 2010, only two years after its first number was fit to print. Its slogan is ‘A Verdade não tem preço’, which translates to, ‘the Truth is priceless’.

@Verdade is more than a newspaper; as its founder Erik Charas put it, “I did not start the venture for the business or for the media aspect. My intention was to uplift the country, to contribute in order to do change.”

Continue reading

The Fallout from the Lagos Plane Crash: The $25m question for the NCAA’s Harold Demuren and his Son

In the aftermath of the Nigerian air disaster, Sardonicus looks at the crises in Nigerian aviation. Poor regulation, corruption, nepotism and a general failure of the system could all have been contributing factors to the tragedy. This article looks in particular at the endemic corruption and nepotism within the aviation authorities.

To provide a pretext for this article here is a brief excerpt from a recent article in the New York Times on flying in Nigeria:

A plane for a major Nigerian carrier was approaching Lagos at the end of a recent all-night international flight. The city came into view – the warren of streets near the airport was below – and the plane seemed to be descending. Suddenly the view changed.

“The plane was flying over fields and swamps. The city receded into the distance. Yet the weather was perfect. The plane was no longer, it seemed, approaching Lagos. After a few minutes, the captain’s voice came over the intercom: “Ah, distinguished ladies and gentlemen” – this is how Nigerian pilots address passengers – “I’m sorry, but I’ve missed my landing. I’m going to have to try again.”

The plane became very quiet. The flight attendants were frozen in their seats, their faces immobile. After 10 minutes, the pilot tried again, and the plane landed without incident.

On a recent domestic flight – again involving a major carrier – the small jet hit heavy turbulence. It went on and on, the plane bouncing up and down, minutes turning into a quarter-hour and a half-hour.

The pilot’s voice came over the intercom – but not to give information about the flight. To sing. In a cracked and wheezy baritone, the (evidently) aged pilot began to intone an improvised ditty in praise of his own carrier: “Oh, I love to fly Air Nigeria! Air Nigeria is the best!”

The plane bounced up and down, and the captain sang.

Eventually the jet landed at its provincial destination. The passengers, almost all Nigerians, disembarked, impassive and silent. They appeared to be used to these ordinary experiences that edge near – uncomfortably close – to the extraordinary.

By Sardonicus, 14th June, 2012. Continue reading