• Publications

    How Journalists and the Public Get It Wrong About African Poverty

    REPOST: This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Ordinary people’s stories can change the world’s views about Africa We cannot see salary data in the faces of others, but most of us have similar mental images that structure how we think about poverty in Africa. Search Google Images for ‘African poverty’ to see how yours match up. Dilapidated housing. Tattered shirts. Blank stares. Bellies protruding from parasitic infections. Skin clinging to bones from starvation. Tears. The visit to South Africa by French economist and author of Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty, should lead us to reflect on how we understand poverty. To speak…

  • Kenya

    Economic Ingenuity among Nairobi’s Poor

    A recent story in the The Standard details the various ways Nairobi’s low-income earners maximize their earning potential and spending power. The article, “How Thriving ‘Reject Economy’ is Allowing the Poor to Live High Life of the Rich,” by Dominic Omondi looks beyond the “Dollar a Day” trope to reveal the economic ingenuity of Nairobi’s underclass. A few of the examples: Getting discounted prices for cracked eggs, bruised vegetables, misshapen bread, and defective clothing Finding deals from street vendors and informal markets Recovering and washing discarded, but still trendy, hair weaves Selling old newspapers by the page to butchers and shopkeepers Buying scrap electronics for pennies, fixing them, and selling them for a sizable profit During my fieldwork, I became fascinated by the economics of Kibera. Inside Kibera, there…