All posts in Podcasts

The Bright Continent: Rethinking Modern Africa

Nigerian-American journalist Dayo Olopade spent two years traveling to seventeen nations across sub-Saharan Africa. In her new book The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa, she comes away with a decidedly promising view of the continent. Read more…

Essmart: Helping the Poor And Charging a Fee

Jackie Stenson was a Harvard trained engineer who wanted to design technologies to improve the lives of the world’s poor. Read more…


Lessons from an Expat Aid Worker

Here is an excerpt from Letters Left Unsent:

Aid and development workers are notorious for being self-righteous and smug. While I do not care for those labels, I also know that there’s some basis to them. We, and I include myself, sometimes wear our genteel poverty as a badge of honor. We are not like our materialist peers in the for-profit sector. We are on the right sides of all the issues. Read more…

Dean Kamen

New Documentary Profiles Inventor Doing Good

I recently watched a new documentary about inventor Dean Kamen. He’s the guy who invented the Segway, that impressive but only moderately successful people mover. Read more…


Demanding More Than Good Intentions

A lot of people ask me what factors they should consider when deciding which charities to support. It’s a tough question. And an important one. So I turned to one of the experts. Read more…

Photo Credit: Jennifer Collins

Ball Generates Electricity for Poor Kids…Until It Breaks

I’m so happy to bring you our first story produced by an outside contributor. Reporter Jennifer Collins’ investigation was made possible by the generosity of Tiny Spark’s Kickstarter backers. Read more…


Should Volunteers Who Live in Poverty Be Paid?

Across the developing world, many international charities rely on local, volunteer staff to perform all kinds of work. Many volunteers provide low-level assistance to organizations. However, thousands of volunteer healthcare workers are bringing vital skills and expertise to rural areas, which suffer from a severe shortage of doctors and nurses.

Many praise the “volunteer spirit” that makes rural healthcare possible, but what about the well-being of the volunteers themselves, many of whom are poor? Read more…

Jeffrey Sachs speaks at anti-poverty rally at UNC Chapel Hill. Photo Credit: Kevin Tsui

Tracking One Man’s Quest to End Extreme Poverty

Jeffrey Sachs has twice been named among TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”. The New York Times Magazine once described him as “probably the most important economist in the world”.

Sachs has devoted much of his career to figuring out how to end extreme poverty across the globe. He says if you give even the poorest communities enough money and resources, extreme poverty can actually be eradicated. Read more…

Long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets

Bed Nets – A Simple Idea Proves Complicated

My first Tracking Charity story with PRI’s The World investigates a seemingly simple and promising technology: the insecticide treated bed net. Hundreds of millions of nets were distributed across Africa as part of a multibillion dollar campaign to fight malaria. The nets were supposed to last from three to five years and protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

My story from the African nation of Malawi shows how growing insecticide resistance is now compromising the power of the nets. And I meet many families who say their nets became riddled with holes after less than a year of use. Read more…


An Idea Sparked in Africa

I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know about the impetus behind Tiny Spark.

For several years, I worked as a public radio and television correspondent in Africa. During that time, I traveled around the continent, seeing a range of social enterprise initiatives and aid programs on the ground, each meeting with varying degrees of success. I also discovered that well-intentioned ideas, poorly executed, can actually do harm. Read more…