Why you should care
They don’t get much mainstream press (yet), but these people and trends are reshaping our world.
In case you missed it, last week OZY kicked off a regular segment on PBS NewsHour to discuss ideas and people who aren’t in the headlines, but could reshape the ground beneath our feet. A rundown on the segment:
You don’t normally think of Poland when you think about great entrepreneurs. But if you shop online and get stuff delivered, you probably should. Delivery is mad expensive. But Rafal Brzoska has a new, cheaper way to get your goodies to you. And it’s popular. The idea is this: lockers. A deliveryman can hit many more lockers an hour than doorsteps, and so the locker strategy is cheaper than FedEx and DHL. Plus, the lockers are in public places and open 24/7. No more waiting for the UPS guy.
Brzoska’s parcel delivery service has spread throughout Europe, including to the U.K., and he’s headed to North America, starting with Canada. He sees his Canadian foothold as a kind of prelude to coming to the United States. But the 37-year-old notes that Google and Amazon, some of the big boys, are now starting to copy him and are testing out variations of his service in London and San Francisco. Read OZY’s profile of Brzoska here.
So often, hope can outstrip political reality. But there seems to be little outstripping Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo. Three months into his term, “Jokowi” has begun a cash-transfer program to the poor — about $15 per month — and expanded health and education programs. GDP growth predictions dipped, but investors were bullish.
How’d Jokowi pull it off? It’s not just his charisma or populist cred, it’s also good luck: Plummeting fuel prices have made it politically feasible for him to slash gas subsidies, saving some $200 trillion rupiah ($16 billion) per year, according to his administration. If the cash-transfer program reaches all of the intended participants, it would make a real dent in Indonesia’s poverty — some 40 percent are below the poverty line. Read OZY’s profile of Jokowi here.
You’ve heard of the Pulitzers and maybe even the Man Booker Prize. But have you heard of the Etisalat Prize for Literature? You should: It’s another sign of Africa’s cultural renaissance — and Nigeria’s especially, despite the political turmoil, says Sarah Manyika, head of the judges’ panel.
Now in its second year, the prize has an interesting backstory: It is sponsored by UAE-based Etisalat, a prominent telecom provider in Africa, and is among very few prizes for book-length African fiction. The winner earns 15,000 pounds, and the three writers on the shortlist are guaranteed a print run of at least 1,000 (not bad for debut global fiction) and a mini-tour of the continent’s major cities. This year’s shortlist, announced in December, includes some books we can’t wait to read, on some brave topics, including same-sex love and Capetown’s Muslims. The winner will be announced March 14 in Lagos. Read OZY’s piece on African literature here.