Creating jobs in the developing world

By Elizabeth L. Littlefield, OPIC President and CEO

Development-financeA generation ago, private capital flowing into developing countries was a small fraction of aid dollars. In recent years that ratio of aid to investment has flipped, and the amount of investment flowing to the developing world far exceeds aid dollars.

This significant increase in private investment comes at a good time. The cost of addressing the world’s most urgent development challenges outlined last year in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is in the trillions of dollars. Compare that to the estimated USD135 billion per year in total global aid flows.

Development finance institutions like the U.S.-based Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) were built on the understanding that the challenges the world faces are greater than any government can address on its own. They also reflect the conviction that business can serve as a force for good in development. OPIC works to mobilise private capital to support entrepreneurship and expand access to housing, education, financial services, energy and more. Continue reading

The Gig Economy

By Juan R. de Laiglesia and Caroline Tassot, OECD Development Centre

Gig-economy

Wolfgang von Kempelen built an impressive chess-playing automat in 1770 known as the “mechanical Turk.’’ Dressed in its fancy turban, the “Turk’’ would move the pieces on the chessboard, playing (and beating) such notables as Napoleon, Catherine the Great and Benjamin Franklin. The unfortunate use of this national stereotype (which we in no way support) was meant to enchant imaginations with exoticism in the face of the automat’s extraordinary prowess in 18th century Europe. As suspected, the automat was an elaborate hoax, although this was discovered only much later. Several chess grandmasters operated it during its rather long history until its demise in a Philadelphia fire in July 1854.

What’s the relevance? In 2005, Amazon’s catalogue started to get unwieldy, and the Internet company realised that it needed better tagging on its items for sale. For example, if one searched for a crimson shirt, shirts labelled “red” should be displayed as well as those tagged as “crimson.” Even Amazon faced tasks that computers could not do more quickly and accurately than people.  Continue reading