Posted by: Bill | November 9, 2009

Two interesting posts from Aid Watch

The first is a bit off topic for that blog, but I enjoyed the short discussion of market forces within groups of monkeys.

The second is about the Gates Foundation. I have included the part I think is important. It describes how Gates is different in how it dishes out the aid when compared to governments.

This NPR interview,  though just seven minutes long, is actually meatier than the Gateses’ speech. In it, the interviewer gets Bill and Melinda Gates to talk honestly about why the Gates Foundation behaves differently than governments (“we can take risks where a government won’t or can’t”), and how their entrepreneurial approach to development problems allows them to acknowledge failures and change their approach midstream. Great!

Melinda Gates retells the story of delivering the rotavirus vaccine (but without the relentlessly optimistic spin from the speech). They worked with a scientist to develop a lifesaving vaccine, but failed with something much more mundane: producing the right packaging. They didn’t realize that they needed to put the doses in small containers so that it could be refrigerated all the way from the lab to remote locations in Nicaragua. She said: “You just learn from it and say okay, that’s a small mistake we made, and we’re not going to make that mistake again.” Kudos again! Would you mind if we called you “searchers”?


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