April 20, 2006

BOP Research and forums

These are couple of great opportunities for researchers in the BOP area.

Case Western University along with The Academy of Management and The United Nations Global Compact will be organizing the Business as an agent of world benefit forum in October (23rd to 25th).

IFC has a competition for research papers on the topic of "Business in Development"

Posted by vdakshin at 08:31 PM

March 10, 2006

New Age Economics

Community based interactions are leading to new types of economic transactions. Information and Technology revolutions are finding new ways for people to exchange goods and commodities. There are several organizations which are doing research and studying these types of economic transactions.

Here are a few:
New Economics Foundation
Interra Project

New Economics Foundation based in UK is piloting several community economics projects as well as tackling bigger city wide issues. The Interra project is looking at community-driven marketplace for civic goods.

Perhaps this is the dawn of new economics ... maybe its time big businesses took notice of small communities.

Posted by vdakshin at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)

Study of a Telemedicine Initiative

As part of my summer internship I studied a telemedicine project in Thirupathur in Tamilnadu. I am still consolidating the information that I gathered during my visit and I am putting that in words.

As a start here is a list of questions that I put together before I held some brief interviews with the social worker who was coordinating activities there, a local doctor and several local citizens who had used the telemedicine service.

At a high-level, my visit and interviews were aimed at evaluating the following:

Was the doctor comfortable in providing this service?
Was there a viable business model?

Questions for the doctor
1. How much time during the day/week do you spend on this telemedicine effort?
2. What do you collect in fees (total) per day and per week?
3. Are you comfortable communicating with the patient through the remote kiosk?
4. Do you feel the patient receives the best care through this service?
5. How do you think this service can be improved?
6. What other services can be provided that will be useful to the patient?
7. Do you think the charges are nominal, more or less?
8. Do you feel you are providing the same service (through the telemedicine project) as you were providing before (when making visits)?
9. What are the problems that you face during a telemedicine consulting session?
10. Do you have many patients who come for an in-person consultation who wait during the telemedicine session?

Questions for the Kiosk Operator (KO)
1. How long has this kiosk been in operation?
2. What other services are provided at this kiosk?
3. What is the response from the local citizens to those services?
4. How many users have visited the kiosk so far?
5. How many users have availed the telemedicine services?
6. What is the average number of telemedicine users who visit the kiosk per day, per week?
7. What is the cost of providing telemedicine service?
8. What is the average revenue from telemedicine usage per day, per week etc?
9. How do you advertise this service? How do you attract new customers?
10. What is the net profit from telemedicine services?
11. Will you continue to provide this service?
12. How do you plan to improve the telemedicine service?
13. Does the telemedicine service affect the ability to provide other services during the time the internet channel is occupied?
14. How many users visit to use the internet when you are using the telemedicine service?
15. Is there a loss in revenue because of providing the telemedicine service?
16. Which is the most profitable among the services (agricultural information, voice chat, telemedicine, internet browsing)?
17. How will you compare the most successful service with telemedicine services?
18. What other issues do you face in providing the telemedicine service (both technical and others)?
19. How can these issues be resolved?
20. Do you feel the fees for telemedicine service is nominal or high?
21. What do you think is the nominal fees that will make patients visit the kiosk more?
22. How many repeat patients visit the kiosk?

Questions for the patients
1. How did you come to know about the telemedicine service?
2. Are you satisfied with the service that you got from the telemedicine kiosk? Is your ailment cured completely?
3. How do you find the telemedicine service?
4. Did you recommend this service to anyone else (family or neighbors)?
5. Do you feel you are able to explain all the symptoms and conditions to the doctor through this channel?
6. Do you feel you have the privacy in your interactions with the doctor?
7. Do you think the fees is nominal?
8. How much would you like to pay for the service you received?
9. Where would you have gone for treatment had you not been aware of this service?
10. Do you feel that this service is equivalent or better than the service provided by the Regional Medical Practitioners (RMPs)?
11. If you feel this service is better, why do you think it is? If not, why not?
12. How do you get the medicines prescribed?
13. Once you have consulting session through the telemedicine service, how long does it take to receive the medicines?
14. Do you feel you have been cured by the service you received?
15. Did you get any other medical service elsewhere for the same conditions after the telemedicine service?
16. How do you think kiosk operators and telemedicine services can be improved?
17. if the doctor asked you to follow-up, were you able to visit again? If not, why not?

This is clearly a work in progress and I will add more information or provide links as this takes a better shape.

Posted by vdakshin at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

Non-profit Capital Market and Social Capital

I re-phrase / praphrase several points from Jed Emerson's article to emphasize the approaches to defining capital and returns in the nonprofit market.

Social Capital : "It is this very aspect of our community life, its "social capital", that we must reconsider and integrate more effectively into our understanding of value and worth in the context of the modern commercial society."

Posted by vdakshin at 06:49 PM | Comments (0)

WDI Internship

Most of today was spent at the n-logue office in Adyar, Chennai.

I started pouring through Jed Emerson's Nature of Returns paper and the REDF SROI methodology paper. I understand at a conceptual level the principle of SROI and the blended measurement framework. However, I am struggling to get anywhere in thinking how to operationlize this framework for telecenter monitoring and evaluation. The objective of this research study is to understand both of these - (i) Telecenter operations monitoring and evaluation (ii) SROI based approach to measuring socio-economic impact (or a blended ROI framework). The more ambitious objective is to identify concrete metrics for SROI by understanding the telecenter models better. The difficult part in this is to understand the context and nature of returns. I know it sounds vague and seems like I am just picking words from Jed's paper but that is exactly the problem as he points it out. There needs to be a consistent vocabulary and measures developed for SROI and blended value measurement.

In this forum, I would also sometimes paraphrase and sometimes quote verbatim words from Emerson's article to emphasize key points. The hope is that it would help clarify my work with the telecenters and prevent this effort from straying too far away from the SROI framework work that has been done.

Posted by vdakshin at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

World Bank Data and HDR on Assam

After trying to schedule my visits and coordinate times with Arvindd, I decided to dig deeper into Assam's context. I had data that I had previously downloaded from the World Bank website which had country-wise as well as state-wise data on India. This was data relating to the poverty level and included such information as population, consumer price index, distribution, poverty, rain (i still dont completely understand the connection between rainfall and poverty thought it sort of makes sense that in an agriculture based economy annual rainfall could determine income and poverty levels).

I reviewed the data (which is not in an easily usable format - in dbase file formats and with 6-7 word files that describe what the data is and how it is organized) and tried to understand what portion was relevant to Assam or the telecenter study.

I still have to do some more work on the data to understand it and use it. But at least it made me realize that there is another source (World Bank data) that I could use in understanding the impact of telecenters in Assam.

The HDR from UNDP on Assam also had very useful information that is directly relevant to development efforts in Assam. Reviewing this report, I realized how many people are involved in producing a report like this and what serious consequences it has on the state's current performance, perception and future.

Ah well ... the data is there but I have to make sense of it at somepoint if I have to use it.

Posted by vdakshin at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)