Is the development trend du jour, impact investment, the Next Big Thing? According to its proponents, private investment for both profit and social good holds the promise of unlocking billions to address the problems of poverty and inequality. To others it’s just another fad. Read and decide for yourself in the new issue of Americas Quarterly.
The Fall AQ also features stories—on Chinese mining investment to education reform and security—and marks the signing of the U.S.–Colombia free-trade agreement with an interview with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
In impact investment, Antony Bugg-Levine of the Nonprofit Finance Fund and Jed Emerson of ImpactAssets look at the relationship between philanthropy and profit and the need for overhauling regulatory frameworks. Jonathan Morduch of the Financial Access Initiative cautions that microfinance holds some tough lessons in how to make investments sustainably target the poor, and Katie Grace and David Wood of the Institute for Responsible Investment at the Harvard Kennedy School explain why governments need to play a role in facilitating investment. Our Charticle offers a how-to guide on impact investment.
In other articles, Barbara Kotschwar, Theodore Moran and Julia Muir of the Peterson Institute for International Economics compare Chinese and U.S. mining projects in Peru in terms of respect for labor and the environment. Nancy Brune reveals how Brazil has become a jumping-off point for narcotics bound for Africa, and from there to Europe, and a special section on education reform looks at what must be done for Brazil and Argentina to improve student performance. And Nora Lustig of Tulane University discusses how to sustain the recent gains in reducing inequality in the region.
In This Issue:
Hype or Promise?
ANTONY BUGG-LEVINE AND JED EMERSON
Pairing philanthropy and profit takes work—and smart regulation.
CHARTICLE: How to Be an Impact Investor
LINA SALAZAR AND NORMA ZACARÍAS
It starts with finding the money. And then it gets really complicated.
Not so Fast
The ups and downs of microfinance offer some cautionary lessons to champions of socially conscious investing.
When the Private Sector Isn’t Enough
KATIE GRACE AND DAVID WOOD
Governments play a vital role in ensuring that impact investment achieves genuine social and environmental goals.
A Case Study
Root Capital introduces big investors to small rural farmers and cooperatives—with dramatic results.
Revisiting Education Reform
ESTEBAN BULLRICH AND GABRIEL SÁNCHEZ-ZINNY
EDUARDO J. GOMEZ
Latin America’s Shrinking Inequality
A result of policies, politics—or luck?
Chinese Mining Companies
BARBARA KOTSCHWAR, THEODORE MORAN AND JULIA MUIR
Assessing their record on labor rights and the environment.
The Africa Connection
The emerging narco nexus between West Africa and Brazil.
ASK THE EXPERTS
Can impact investment be an effective tool to reduce poverty? Michael Edwards, Ron Cordes, Stuart Yasgur, and Amit Bouri respond.
Panorama: São Paulo’s cowboy festival, pre-election polling in Venezuela, Costa Rica filmmaker Hernan Jiménez dazzles N.Y. critics with El Regreso, 10 Things to Do in San Salvador, and more.
AQ Interview: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on free trade, security policy and his first year in office.
Hard Talk: Can Mexico win the war against drugs? Alejandro Poiré and José Merino square off.
Innovators/Innovations: David Reyes pioneers transparency in Salvadoran politics. Telmary Díaz raps for peace in Havana. Osvaldo Lucho bridges Brazil’s digital divide. Maria Teresa Kumar empowers U.S. Latinos.
Dispatches from the Field: Chirretzaaj: Matthew Walter tracks the impact of rising food prices on Guatemala’s rural poor.
Policy Update: Colin Robertson on Canada’s new Americas policy. Andrea Armeni on the mining boom in Colombia’s Indigenous lands. Layne Holley on Latin American call centers.
Fresh Look Reviews: Kevin P. Gallagher reviews new scholarship on China’s engagement with Latin America. Marta Tienda looks at a study of Mexico’s U.S. diaspora. Juan Cruz Díaz examines Uruguay–U.S. trade talks.