Scott Gilmore

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Death of James Rogers

It is with profound sadness that I must announce the death of one our Liberian colleagues, James Rogers.... More
liberia book

March Quarterly Update

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The Anatomy Lesson

Testing a hunch - online.

My hunch is that poverty is being beat by markets. Increased trade, expanded entrepreneurial classes, liberalized trade. In other words, the greatest alleviation of extreme po... More
Building Markets Logo

Our New Name Is...

In which we announce our new name.... More
...but not this.

Best. Fellowship. Ever.

We are looking for a video journalism fellow. If you want to travel around the world (we're not kidding) and tell PDT's stories, apply now. We like to be objective as possible... More
The Indonesian Army's "nation building" in action - 90% of buildings burned down

The Diaspora Mirage

That was one of many low points of my time working for him, but what made this one particularly galling is he ended up being right. The Timorese diaspora did not return except... More
Timor_www_CMYK

An Open Letter to Haiti’s President Martelly

In Haiti’s and elsewhere, again and again, the international community responds to war, tsunami, and earthquake the same way. Billions are pledged. Less is disbursed. And al... More
"...everything looks like a nail."

Look out Libya, the airport’s about to get crowded

The one thing the international community is good at is helping to hold elections. The next best thing they can do is build up police forces. After that, its utility per doll... More
Take this job and shove it.

You Should Probably Quit Your Job

Unrequested career advice wherein I exhort you to quit your job to chase rainbows and unicorns. ... More

Celebrating Tax Day with Transparency

At the PDT offices we're celebrating Tax Day by showing you where our money goes and what it does when it gets there.... More
admittingfailure

Move Fast, Break Things

The aid industry needs to move faster, break more things. Don't believe me? Listen to Warren Buffet.... More
Thou Shalt Volunteer Wisely Or Risk the Holy Wrath of Chuck Heston (and various bloggers)

Volunteers vs Interns - Getting it Right

I still dislike volunteers, but I'm willing to concede a couple of points (grudgingly and without grace).... More
Steve Jobs? Geoffrey Canada? Same guy.

Arguing in Public - A Three Act Play

Wherein I greet our new Communications Director Elmira Bayrasli by publicly disagreeing with her.... More
42nd St. from the PDT office. Not the best place for a debate.

Aids vs Cancer. You choose.

Can the social benefit of condom distribution be gauged accurately enough that you could say “If we distribute 200,000 condoms in the Nyanza province of Kenya, it will preve... More
Speechless, frankly

Big Day in Seoul (we won)

PDT was named a People’s Choice winner in the G20 SME Finance Challenge. Our winning idea? Factor Finance for Procurement, which will provide line of credits using soverei... More
Henry Theil: Econometrician and measurer of UN dysfunction

Pareto Principle and the United Nations

They say 90% of the work at the United Nations is done by 10% of the people? Turns out this is a commonly observed phenomena and it even has a name.... More
Afghan_www-large

Hope & Progress on a Tuesday Morning

Norway is challenging aid orthodoxy. Melinda Gates fails to ask an important question. Berkeley is full of smart people. And there are some Afghan female entrepreneurs feeli... More
Count Schools, Not Vodka Bottles

Overhead: Money to cause trouble

Investors and consumers don't buy Apple stock and Apple iPods because Steve Jobs spends very little on rent and salaries. They do so because Steve Jobs produces the best mp3 ... More
Yes, we have no transparency today.

Transparent, yes. But transparent what?

I find myself in the awkward position of disagreeing with Bill Easterly. Awkward, because a) he is very smart, b) he is very popular in the aid world, and c) I am a big fan.... More
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Who gives more aid: Liberals or Conservatives?

Kavya-the-intern has dug up some interesting data on ODA spending patterns for conservative and liberal governments in Canada and the US since the 1960s. It is not what you w... More
Note the unmistakeable lack of a bottle

When donor cuts are a good thing

I think it’s great that CIDA has untied aid. This is one step closer to creating an aid industry where the best ideas get funded, not the coziest partners. And I think it... More
Poster 112

We told you buying local would work

About ten years ago, a group of aid workers and UN staff sat around a legendary bar called the Dili Club (it’s gone now, alas) and complained. Our gripes were many, but one... More
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Unexpected Good News

Ban Ki Moon drops a (good) bombshell in Toronto: the world is on target to actually meet one of it's Millennium Development Goals, halving the number of people living in extre... More
The Reality  [CLICK ON GRAPH TO PLAY WITH VARIABLES]

Are Poor Countries Better at Football?

If the conventional wisdom is correct, poor uneducated people are better at football, then the nations with the lowest GDP and literacy rates would have the best odds for winn... More
Change is afoot. We can feel it...

Great things in the pipeline

There’s a bounce in my step these days, and the entire office is even more chipper than usual. Even the over-worked under-loved interns are twittering about (metaphorically... More
Famous? Need to save the world? Start here!

Celebrity? Need to save the world? Start here.

There are unwritten rules to Celebrity Aid. For example, if Tina Fey showed up in Haiti cursing about the slow UN deployment, it just wouldn’t be right. Or if Kim Kardashi... More
Partners in Health

Send us the money or the kid gets it

Meet “Abdul”. That’s not his real name. I don’t know his real name. We never met. But I saw his photo every day for a year or so on the front page of PDT’s websi... More

Donald Rumsfeld, Naked Joe, and Aid Data

In the bustling world of epistemology, however, Donald’s ramblings were not dementia, but a good summary of an important element of decision theory (which can be applied dir... More
Hand Relief International

Mystery man who is so funny, you cry

The staff at PDT have a new hero. His name is Dr. Kurtz, and every time he uploads a new blog post or tweets a new tweet, there is a buzz of joy that goes around the office. ... More

PDT wins Skoll Award

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Yangon Hip Hop

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Rees

δῶς μοι πᾶ στῶ καὶ τὰν γᾶν κινάσω*

Sitting in a roadside warung deep in Central Kalimantan this morning, debating project design with my long-time co-conspirators and close friends Jennifer Holt and Edward Rees... More
ned_breslin

Free markets and labour and us.

A new post went up this morning from a guest blogger, Anthony DeMattee on wage levels among NGOs and other local employers. Less than a minute later, I got an email calling it... More
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, unless that rose is named Peace Dividend Trust.“

A Rose by Any Other Name

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, unless that rose is named Peace Dividend Trust.“... More
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A Minor Modern Greek Tragedy

We used to say “Everyone has one great novel inside of them.” I think now all we can hope for is one good tweet. Unfortunately, mine was last week.... More
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It's all relative

Your life is pretty good. Skip and whistle all day. ... More
This is how you take meeting notes.

The Seven Coolest Things About The Young Global Leaders Summit

I’m in Dalian China right now, participating in the “Summer Davos”. I was very fortunate to be able to spend the first few days with the Young Global Leader community. A... More
Buy Local Build Afghanistan

US government success touted as failure in Afghanistan

Some amazing good news was wrapped up in what appeared to be some shocking bad news today. Politico, AP, ABC, and others are reporting that a jaw dropping $360m of US govt mon... More
Charles Darwin was not an aid worker.

In Defence of Duplication, Waste, and Ineffeciency

The structure of the non-profit sector is fundamentally flawed. More competition among NGOs can only make things better.... More
One Acre Fund. One cool idea.

Top 10 Coolest Things at the Skoll World Forum

The title says it all.... More
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)

Being a Good Boss versus Being a Great Social Entrepreneur

Google has data crunched what it takes to be a good boss. But they haven't figured out what it takes to be a great social entrepreneur.... More

Down with people

I'm no fan of volunteers. And I have several angry reasons why.... More
And now, a word from our sponsors?

Bringing some sex appeal to the aid industry

Wherein I argue that the new, ridiculous, ABC doctor drama Off the Map will actually be good for the aid industry. I know, I can't believe I wrote that either.... More
A disgusting, self-serving apologist speaks

In Defence of In Defence of Secrecy

Take from this what you will, but when something I've written angers the mob to this extent, I feel that was labour well paid. (In fact, I've even inserted several of those q... More

Seoul Cabbies and G20 Rumors

I'm in Seoul, at the G20, soaking up the diplomatic ambiance and listening to rumors of an impending announcement by President Obama on SME Finance.... More
So cool - the website has its own soundtrack

Timor Party at Haven

PDT is hosting its first fundraising party in New York tomorrow night. You're invited!... More
The Manifest Destiny of American Generosity?

The Manifest Destiny of American Generosity?

In spite of the ongoing recession, it's unlikely that charitable giving overall is about to plummet into the abyss (although it has decreased by 5% since 2007). Even if corpo... More

Till Bruckner is (partially) right, but so am I

Till Bruckner came back to me with a very thoughtful response at AidWatchers. In reading it, I found myself agreeing with much he said. This is because I am not suggesting h... More
DfID Chief Andrew Mitchell: Visionary or Villain?

Is DfID's Andrew Mitchell A Visionary or a Villain?

DfID internal memos were leaked to The Observer, revealing that Andrew Mitchell, the new International Development Secretary, plans to renege on some 90 international aid comm... More
Alan Neal - The CBC Host (who can take the interview anywhere he damn well pleases)

Advice to Donors on Spending Better

If Alan Neal had asked me the question the producer had asked (How can governments ensure their aid money is making a difference?) I would have cleared my throat, and in melli... More
So true.

It's funny 'cause it's true

There is a great little internet meme doing the rounds today. It's called "I Write Like" and the premise is simple. Cut and paste a sample of your writing, press ANALYZE, an... More
An Afghan ATM

Wall Street Journal gets it wrong (UPDATED)

There is an alarming Wall Street Journal article doing the rounds right now, and I don’t think the numbers add up. It states that $3.6 billion siphoned off of aid projects ... More
Space Program? No aid for you!

Today we're fond of Andrew Mitchell

Here’s to you Andrew Mitchell. Ask questions. Demand answers. And when they don’t come, send your money elsewhere. Because what the developing world needs is not just ... More
Quick!  If the Gulf oil spill were a continent it would be....?

Try Something, Anything: Aid Ideas and the Gulf Oil Spill

Imagine the oil spill as a metaphor for Africa. We’ve been trying junk shots for 50 years. It ain’t working. Time to try something else. ... More
Chairman Mao: Aid visionary

Chairman Mao knew how to improve aid

I’ve been recalling the period before I quit my job as a diplomat to launch Peace Dividend Trust. I was a rash thing to do. So, before I leapt, I cautiously tested the wat... More
SWEDOW Flowchart V2

Send, Sell, or Trash? Use the SWEDOW Flowchart (2.0)

Got a million t-shirts to give away? Aid mob hot on your heels? Don't know if you should send the shirts to Africa? Sell them? Trash them? Worry no more. This handy SWEDOW ... More
Or is it more gravel jobs?

How many jobs? We have no bloody idea.

I think this is one of the most important and fascinating problems facing us and other aid agencies trying to generate economic growth in post-disaster or post-conflict econom... More
Don't Touch the Red Stapler

Not Wanted: Mercenaries, Missionaries, and Madmen

It’s hard to compete with Wall Street and even Main Street, when the most you can offer is a slightly higher salary, longer hours, some good med-evac insurance, and all the ... More

Bureaucrat Bob vs Bill Gates

I’m no fan of Bill Gates’ operating system, but I do like what he does with disease. Let me explain why. I came to the aid world from the government side. I was a diplo... More
I'm thankful for these guys

Thanksgiving at Building Markets

To mark Thanksgiving, I asked the Building Markets staff around the world to share with me some of the things they are most thankful for. This is what they said:... More
Murphy Brown

The Worst Job in Ottawa

I need a new EA. Again. You see, you remember that great 80s sitcom Murphy Brown? She and I share two things in common. A magnificent mane of luxuriously feathered hair, and t... More
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Old aid vs new.

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"Paging Mrs. Landingham."

Mrs. Landingham where are you?

I am looking for an Executive Assistant.... More
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We Hate our Name, Discuss

The title says it all... More

LETTRE OUVERTE À L’INTENTION DU PRÉSIDENT D’HAÏTI MICHEL MARTELLY

J’ai regardé le discours que vous avez prononcé la semaine dernière pendant l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies (ONU). Votre discours était franc, une chose rare... More
Trolley Problem

Aid "Industry" vs Humanitarian "Relief"

Too often in the debate about development reform and aid effectiveness we get sloppy and lump humanitarian relief into the mix. We shouldn’t. It’s not an industry and shou... More
"She must have been extradinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous.''

Unpaid Internships, Glampers, and the Grade School Gum Dictum

I will concede that I have not studied ethics, nor have I read St. Augustine. At Sunday Mass, I tend to marvel at the stained-glass windows instead of paying attention to the... More
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An Open Letter to Global Soap Project

Wherein I try a different approach to fight the burgeoning waste of the SWEDOW industry. As my prairie-born grandmother used to say "You gather more flies with honey than vine... More
Jeff Skoll - "invest in, connect and celebrate social entrepreneurs"

The Skoll Forum (one year later)

PDT was extremely fortunate to win the Skoll prize a year ago. It changed everything for us. We found ourselves within a community of social entrepreneurs who face many of th... More

Kidnapping, Aid Workers, and the Media

For me, for my staff, and for aid workers operating in difficult environments everywhere, this question of media ethics and hypocrisy is not merely an interesting after-dinner... More
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Tax Dodging, Aid, and Afghanistan

The UN and donors grants ridiculous carte blanche tax breaks to its contractors and sub-contractors. In the case of the UN, the 1946 Convention which allegedly allows this, do... More
Executive Director Scott Gilmore being held accountable by PDT staff for his thought crimes and other counter-revolutionary failures.

PDT's Failure Report 1.0

We're rolling out Failure Reports at PDT. I began drafting the guidelines for staff to draft their contributions, and then stopped and decided failure starts at the top. There... More
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In Defense of Secrecy

The third most popular topic in the Wikileaks Cablegate database? Human Rights. Cables from American diplomats doing the same thing I was trying to do in Indonesia; American d... More
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Polman, Collier, and the Rational Actor Model

Aidwatch has another interesting post up, featuring David Zetland and his review of the review of Linda Polman's new book "Crisis Caravan". I made a snide remark about it on ... More
Rory in Kabul

Liberalism, Rory Stewart, and Overreaching Aid

As with the aid industry's insistence on inverting Maslow's pyramid of needs, we have sought to overextend ourselves in thinking that good governance projects can cure everyt... More
Latrines: Maslow would have found these very sexy

Maslow's Pyramid of Needs and the aid industry

Every aid worker, ever donor, every UN manager needs to have a copy of Maslow's pyramid taped to his desk (or tattooed to their hands in the more stubborn cases.)... More

Useful Transparency vs Meaningless Paper Chasing

This is not a debate about transparency vs secrecy. It’s about meaningful transparency vs useless paper chasing. If the goal is to make aid more effective, to save more liv... More
Hmmm, not so generous.

I was WRONG WRONG WRONG

Earlier this week I stumbled across some data sets which seemed to tell me that in Canada and the US, conservative governments spend more on aid. In part, I was right. In an... More

Folk Songs From the Aid Industry

Last week, in a flash of pique, I dashed off a blog entry welcoming the funding cut to a Canadian aid industry association which had been mostly funded by the Canadian Interna... More
Donors are a long way from 50%

The Aspirational (and imaginary) 50% Goal in Kabul

The draft communique from the donor meeting in Kabul has leaked. Tucked in among its 5900 words is a reaffirmation of their desire to channel 50% of donor spending through th... More
RX12415

A Different View of Afghanistan

We asked James to visit our team in Afghanistan to help us tell their story and the story of the Afghan's we're trying to assist. He did that and more. The Afghanistan he sh... More
My Mom just bought 30 copies.

Economist magazine

Imagine my delight to discover PDT is in this week's edition of The Economist. And we didn't even have to buy one of those outrageously overpriced career ads!... More
Project staff helped this rancher find an international buyer for his cattle

Bad news – Award-winning Timor Marketplace Project Shutting Down

We have a cool and innovative economic impact project in Timor Leste, and its about to close. Why? Lack of funding. We have several smaller donors supporting it, including ... More

The Aid Industry and Making Good Pencils

No one knows how to make a pencil. It looks simple, though. Wood. Graphite. Pink eraser. It’s not. There is the wood itself, which needs to be chosen for certain qualitie... More
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What Aid can learn from Hollywood

The movie going public understands that spending more isn't the secret to success. This weekend at Cannes, you won’t hear people demanding that Hollywood spend more money o... More

Point Us Towards the Best Aid Info Portal

We want your opinion and your help. What is the best country-specific aid data portal you’ve seen? We are looking for the best example of a website that is a one-stop-shop... More

Kim Kardashian Saves Haiti

Last year I gave a lecture at a Canadian university that culminated with one student standing up and shouting “This is bullshit!” before marching out. To be honest, while... More

Three Ways to Change the World

I was a volcano refugee last week, but you shouldn’t feel sorry for me. I was stranded in Oxford England, the most pleasant refugee camp you could imagine. And to make mat... More

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