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Development Marketplace: Turning Ideas Into Action


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VOICE ONE:

I’m Barbara Klein.

VOICE TWO:

And I’m Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today, we tell about a World Bank program that supports people with new ways to solve social problems. It is called the Development Marketplace. The World Bank program identifies and pays for the best ideas in development.

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VOICE ONE:

Many people around the world are trying to create new kinds of businesses. Entrepreneurs organize, build and support their business proposals. They may have ideas about new products. Or, they may have ideas about new ways to do business.

Social entrepreneurs are similar to business entrepreneurs. However, social entrepreneurs try to improve conditions in their communities. They organize, build, and support new and creative projects. Their goal is to improve people’s lives. Their work is very important. Usually, social entrepreneurs do not receive much support for their work. However, the World Bank is trying to change this. The bank recognizes the need for social entrepreneurs and has developed a special program to offer them support.

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About every eighteen months, the World Bank brings together social entrepreneurs in a friendly competition called the Development Marketplace. During the gathering in Washington D.C., competitors explain their ideas to groups that can provide financial and technical support.

At the end of the two-day competition, winners are given money to carry out their plans within one year.

VOICE ONE:

The World Bank competition serves as a chance for the development community to share ideas. Non-governmental organizations, aid groups, government agencies, educators and private companies are able to discuss new ways to solve social problems.

Anyone can compete in the Development Marketplace. The only requirement is that their idea be creative, designed to change people’s lives, and help end poverty. Also, other people must be able to copy the idea in their own communities. A group of judges from the World Bank and other organizations chooses the winners.

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One hundred eighteen social entrepreneurs from fifty-five countries were in Washington last week for this year’s Development Marketplace. The judges chose thirty winning projects from twenty-two countries. Africa was the area with the biggest number of winners – fourteen. India had the largest number of winners from a single country with five. Benin, Cambodia, Kenya and Senegal each had two winners.

Each competitor proposed a project in one of three areas: water supply, healthy living conditions and energy services for the poor.

The winning projects shared five million dollars. Each project received up to two hundred thousand dollars. World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz described the winners as imaginative people with the ability to solve difficult development problems.

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VOICE ONE:

Each social entrepreneur competing at the Development Marketplace offered a creative approach to ease world poverty. One of the winners was a proposal for China to use native freshwater shellfish called mussels to clean polluted lakes. David Aldridge works for Cambridge Environmental Consultants. He says that mussels can clean about forty liters of water a day by taking in organic matter.

The project will start in three Chinese lakes. If it is effective, it may expand into more lakes. Mister Aldridge says the mussels also will produce pearls – a kind of jewel. Local people will be able to sell the pearls for money.

A winning proposal in India is called “Fences for Fuel.” It uses the native Jatropha plants. Jatropha plants produce oil that can provide a clean and renewable form of energy. The group Humana People to People India plans to work with farmers’ groups in forty villages in the Jaipur area. The groups will establish a supply of the plants for villagers. The villagers can use the plants to build fences around their gardens and fields to protect the soil.

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Another winner at the Development Marketplace was a proposal to use solar power to make ice. Carl Erickson is the president of Solar Ice Company. The United States-based company is trying to help farmers in Kenya. Money from the World Bank will help the company establish milk collection centers near farming communities. The centers will use solar-powered technology to keep milk cold and to store it overnight.

In Kenya, dairy farmers collect cow’s milk in the morning and in the afternoon. The morning milk can be sold at market. But, the afternoon milk often goes bad before it can be transported to collection centers is larger cities. Now, new Solar Ice Collection Centers will permit dairy farmers to sell their afternoon milk.

Farmers could increase their earnings by up to twenty dollars a day. Carl Erickson estimates the project could affect as many as six hundred fifty thousand people in farming areas throughout Kenya.

VOICE ONE:

Another winning proposal at the Development Marketplace will provide energy to communities in Nepal that lack electricity. The American-based company EcoSystems will use World Bank money to pay for a pedal generator. This device looks like a bicycle. People who ride the pedal generator can produce an environmentally safe source of power.

This power can charge a large twelve-volt battery, which in turn, can charge several small six-volt rechargeable batteries. The small batteries can be transported to farming areas in Nepal for a small cost. EcoSystems believes its project will support two hundred homes in Nepal.

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Not all of the projects competing at the Development Marketplace were winners. Yet, many creative ideas were presented. For example, the organization Accion Contra el Hambre, or A.C.H., proposed a safe drinking water system for Palestinians in Gaza. The water supply in the Palestinian territories is not good. In addition, bottled drinking water transported into the territories costs too much for poor people to buy.

The A.C.H. proposed a device to clean water using the sun’s energy. The group calls the device a solar still. It looks like a big box with a glass top. The sun heats water in the bottom of the box. The water changes into steam. This steam is trapped on the glass inside the box. It becomes condensation or drops of clean water. The water drops are then collected in another container for drinking. A.C.H says its solar still can clean chemical and biological pollutants from water. It says homes throughout the Palestinian territories could be equipped with solar stills.

VOICE ONE:

Safe drinking water is also a problem in Mozambique. Water wells become empty during the country’s dry season. As a result, women and children spend huge amounts of time collecting and carrying water from other sources.

Rainwater harvested in underground storage containers can ease the situation. A group called Practica Foundation wants to capture rainwater and guide it into natural aquifers. An aquifer is an underground layer of rock or sand that can contain water. Wells can be dug into aquifers. Water that passes from an aquifer into a well could be lifted out using a rope pump system.

Practica Foundation estimates about ten thousand liters of water could be collected during a series of heavy rains. An estimated eleven thousand people in Mozambique would be affected. The rainwater harvesting system could be built locally with low-cost equipment.

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VOICE ONE:

The Development Marketplace started in nineteen ninety-eight as a small competition within the World Bank. The goal was to provide money for projects that were not able to find money through usual financial supporters. Over the years, the competition has grown into an international event. About forty-two million dollars has been awarded to one thousand projects in more than seventy countries.

More than two thousand five hundred people entered ideas for this year’s competition. You can learn more about how to take part in the next Development Marketplace. Visit the World Bank website at www.worldbank.org. World Bank is spelled as all one word.

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VOICE TWO:

This program was written by Jill Moss and produced by Mario Ritter. I’m Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I’m Barbara Klein. Listen again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

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