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Jennifer Lentfer's Blog (117)

A new venture for girls: Can we change the world through business?

I went out with a new friend back in April, for sushi. Just sushi. And it ended up costing me thousands of dollars.

As Melissa Ovard described how they had formed a company to provide products to make girls’ adolescent transitions easier, I was hooked. Her enthusiasm spilled all over our unagi and seawead salad, and I knew I had to be a part of Girl Lux.…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 22, 2014 at 5:30pm — No Comments

“Create” nothing: A new social good mantra

Aid workers and development practitioners, how many times have you seen a paragraph like this in a proposal?

“Community Mobilization: To ensure communities are… community management committees (CMCs) will be formed. Based on accepted cultural practice, CMCs will be chosen by the community members themselves with strong encouragement on establishing a gender-balanced CMC. The CMC will represent the community and be responsible for ensuring effective community…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 25, 2013 at 9:30am — No Comments

Moving day: An aid analogy

What does it feel like to be a citizen on the receiving end of international aid? Here’s an analogy to try to help do-gooders understand:

Let’s say you’re moving across town. You have to be out of your old apartment by 5pm that day. You’ve got the boxes already packed and the moving van rented. All you need is some muscle to help you move the heavy stuff. You ask your friend to come over early. The plan is to…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on August 23, 2013 at 7:30am — No Comments

From one Cornhusker to another: Peter Buffett, philanthropy, and how we can frame the dialogue

Dear Mr. Buffett,

The charitable industrial-complex, philanthropic colonialism, conscience laundering and inequality – these are topics a fellow Nebraskan like me wants to have more conversations about. So that’s why I was glad to read your New York Times op-ed this weekend, the …

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on August 1, 2013 at 9:05am — No Comments

Time to listen? Time to address our personal barriers

When Time to Listen: Hearing people on the receiving end of international aid came out earlier this year, I was excited to see how many organizations, including my own, were interacting with the multi-year study and its authors. (See previous how-matters.org…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on July 26, 2013 at 10:42am — No Comments

Something "knowing thyself" requires

When emotional intelligence is missing in a leader, everyone knows it. Ian Thorpe on KM on a dollar a day yesterday discussed the elements of this and the challenges in developing one's self-awareness in aid work, a subject near and dear to this blog as well.

He describes it as, "recognizing and understanding who you are and…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on July 19, 2013 at 8:30am — No Comments

Spotting community ownership: A reminder

These days I spend more of my time talking country ownership than community ownership, but they are one in the same, just at different units of analysis.

So reposting a part of "Spotting Community Ownership" to remind myself as much as anyone.

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The processes of decision-making within…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on June 18, 2013 at 8:46am — No Comments

Preserving the "I don't know" within big data

My main concern with an increasing reliance on big data is that the space for possibility and the need for control or certainty too often operate in an inverse relationship. In international aid and philanthropy, our work is often focused on unanswered questions. But are some unanswerable questions?…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on May 28, 2013 at 9:37am — No Comments

7 things you need to speak truth to power

Financial mismanagement. Lay-offs of local and international staff. Inappropriate conduct by leadership. Finally, a visit planned from headquarters to see what’s going on. What do you do?

A superior continues to make passes at you. You find out you’re paid less than someone doing your exact same job. Someone takes undue credit for work you did.

The rules don’t…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on May 16, 2013 at 6:30am — 1 Comment

The Power of No

Imagine not being able to turn away from a problem that you see in this world. You are compelled by a sense of responsibility, passion, and the audacity to believe that you can do something about that problem. You have decided to take the leap and start an organization, an initiative, or a social enterprise.

To do so, you of course need resources. You don’t have them. You have to ask those with money to invest in you.

Imagine sitting across the table from a potential donor,…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on January 29, 2013 at 8:30pm — No Comments

Leading From Love: The attentiveness that brought accountability

A guest post on how-matters.org by Rajasvini Bhansali

It had been six months since I started my new role as a management advisor for a network of youth polytechnics[1] in rural Kenya. The Wakamba village elders in Maseki village where I lived had named me Mutanu meaning “one who smiles a lot.” My career, coursework, and …

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on January 28, 2013 at 7:00am — 1 Comment

Thoughtful Conversations & Sideways Approaches: The Barefoot Guide Connection

Are there alternatives to the cynicism and disillusionment that pervades in so many organizations that are working towards ‘development’? Where are the people who are interested in creating more grounded, creative, human and humble ways of doing this work?

You can find them here.

When I first picked up and started reading The Barefoot Guide to Working with Organisations and Social Change almost four years ago, it was one of…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on December 3, 2012 at 8:30pm — No Comments

How do you tell a compelling story about people in need that doesn’t simplify or stereotype?

I use my How Matters YouTube channel to highlight portrayals of international assistance that inspire more nuanced conversations about the politics of global development and international aid. Frankly though, there’s not enough content to keep that page very active. Very few video-based products show people grappling with the realities of programming on the ground and the stories of grassroots change-makers too often remain…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 14, 2012 at 5:00am — No Comments

What makes a thought leader?

I’ve been called a “thought leader” lately. It’s a lot better than some other things I’ve been called in my life, but still, it’s a label I’ve been trying to understand—so much so that I facilitated a session on it at last month’s Opportunity Collaboration.

When I first heard the term, I did a bit of sleuthing to understand its origin. It comes from the private sector. The best definition I found to work from was “proprietary…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 11, 2012 at 7:42pm — No Comments

How are international aid projects like U.S. presidential elections?

Yes We Can: The campaign/proposal writing

You have to get lots of people involved. In fact, the more people who share your vision, the better. You tell the voters/donors what they want to hear. Persuasion and hyperbole can be more important than substance. The popular vote/buy-in of the people served may be irrelevant in the end. You’re happy (though thoroughly exhausted) when the campaign is over/proposal is submitted, but the hard work is yet to…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 8, 2012 at 6:00am — No Comments

The storm’s a-comin’

I’m quickly writing this post before the 100-mile wide Hurricane Sandy, which has already killed 65 people in the Caribbean, takes the power out in Washington D.C. where I live.…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 29, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Don't you talk about my...that way...

“Excuse me. What’s that you’re reading?” the woman wedged next to me in the busy restaurant asked.

Sitting on the table in front me yesterday was Tori Hogan’s new book, Beyond Good Intentions: A Journey Into the Realities of International Aid. (Now available …

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 23, 2012 at 6:30am — No Comments

The Ego and International Aid

He has now stood up at the long table, perhaps hoping that the argument can be won by positioning himself above those with whom he is supposedly vehemently disagreeing.

About what? I’m unsure, as is the normally reserved and quiet junior staff person, who has uncharacteristically burst out laughing at the scene before her.

Her and I both know that what’s being discussed has less to do with the issue at hand, and more to do with these men’s need to be on top.

I recently…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 15, 2012 at 7:15am — No Comments

If you can't help your friends...

...what good is a blog?

Three people I know and admire are getting the recognition they deserve this week and I want to take a moment to celebrate their achievements on how-matters.org.

1) Mulugeta Gebru, founder of Jerusalem Children…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 14, 2012 at 8:13am — 3 Comments

Development is like music

A guest post on how-matters.org by Oscar Abello 

That video of Victor Wooten doing a solo electric bass performance of Amazing Grace just blows my mind. In a recent TEDed video, he plays a slightly toned-down version in the background while he's …

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 10, 2012 at 11:00pm — No Comments

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