WDI’s NextBillion.net Celebrates 10 Years Online
Monday, April 18, 2016
NextBillion, one of the internet’s first media sites focused exclusively on social entrepreneurship and base of the pyramid venture development, recently celebrated 10 years online. As NextBillion’s parent organization for nearly half of that time, WDI sees a bright future for the site, which serves as a one-stop destination for in-depth original articles, curated news stories, career listings and important events across the broad spectrum of market solutions to poverty.
Launched in mid-2005, NextBillion was born out of “The Next Four Billion report,” one of the first academic studies to quantify the base of the pyramid market. The World Resources Institute, which published the report authored by Al Hammond, created NextBillion to facilitate discussions around the research. The site soon caught on, establishing a global community where entrepreneurs, academics, business leaders, NGO managers, global development agencies, students and policy makers converged around a shared goal, which later became NextBillion’s tagline: “Development Through Enterprise.”
Each year, NextBillion publishes hundreds of contributed articles and nearly as many job ads. Editors aggregate thousands of news stories and press releases, and post hundreds of important events on NextBillion’s calendar, such as conferences, workshops and webinars. They also provide live coverage and interviews at several key events each year. The detailed content on NextBillion drives knowledge and understanding in many sectors, including agriculture, healthcare, energy, technology, impact assessment and financial access. NextBillion contributors also delve deeply into the business models, affordable products, breakthrough technologies, investment strategies and private-public partnerships helping to change the economic fortunes of billions of people making a few dollars a day or less.
WDI’s formal involvement with NextBillion began in 2010 when it joined the World Resources Institute as a co-partner in the site. Two years later, WDI acquired NextBillion from WRI and has continued to manage the site as its parent organization. NextBillion’s editorial focus aligns well with WDI’s mission as a research and educational organization focused on providing private-sector solutions in emerging markets.
“NextBillion is different from other publications and media sites, in part, because of our focus on the practitioner who is working to create a more inclusive global economy,” said Scott Anderson, who has been managing editor since 2010. “Our contributors share a broad range of experiences and skill sets, from idea stage entrepreneurs to senior managers of Fortune 500 companies. Regardless of their titles or career paths, NextBillion is a place for these people to share and collaborate over business solutions to poverty-driven challenges.”
The NextBillion team also includes James Militzer, editor of NextBillion Financial Innovation, and Kyle Poplin, editor of NextBillion Health Care. They joined NextBillion to help the site provide even more comprehensive coverage of key sectors in social business through two topical sub-blogs. The first was NextBillion Health Care, which was launched in 2012 to explore new thinking, business models and technologies designed to improve people’s health and increase access to care. The second, launched in 2013, was NextBillion Financial Innovation, a blog and news resource dedicated to improving financial access for low-income people around the world. In addition, NextBillion also produces in-depth video interviews, extensive blog series and e-book collections that provide background and context for readers who want to explore issues more deeply.
“It has been very gratifying to watch the social business movement growing in tandem with NextBillion,” Militzer said. “While in our early days NextBillion was one of the only websites specializing in social enterprise, we’ve seen remarkable growth in both the sector and the media ecosystem that covers it. As we look toward our next decade online, we’re constantly exploring new ways that NextBillion can keep our dedicated readers informed, while familiarizing the broader public with the world of social business.”
“We take great pride in being a resource not just for creative thinkers, but for risk-taking do’ers,” Poplin added. “As an editor, it’s a treat to interact with and learn from people who want to make a positive difference in the world.”
NextBillion has served as a platform for discussion and debate, even when the criticism has turned to issues at the heart of the site itself. Over the years, contributors have questioned the effectiveness of base of the pyramid theory and business practices, as well as that of microcredit, for example. NextBillion also has published numerous articles and introspective blog posts from entrepreneurs and managers whose businesses or initiatives have failed, discussing what they have learned from the experience.
In the years since NextBillion joined WDI, traffic for the site has more than doubled and its social media following has grown exponentially. NextBillion now has more than 43,000 Twitter followers and over 11,000 on Facebook and LinkedIn.
While WDI contributes articles and serves as the parent organization, NextBillion retains editorial independence. The site also welcomes partnerships with organizations interested in promoting, shaping and participating in dialogue relevant to development through enterprise. With a dedicated audience and a social media community growing at more than 15 percent annually, NextBillion offers partners an effective dissemination platform to share knowledge and discuss the impact of their work.
NextBillion unveiled an all-new design in November 2015 that made the site easier to navigate and to share content.
“In the coming months and years, we hope to make the experience of connecting, sharing and contributing content to NextBillion even more valuable to our readers and to the development through enterprise community,” Anderson said.