Friday 5 - 28th October 2016

Posted by Amirah Jiwa
28 October, 2016

Your weekly helping of five interesting ideas to take you into the weekend. Curated by Good Business and delivered straight to your inbox first thing on a Friday, if you subscribe here.

(1) Capital Growth

The Behavioural Insights Team released a new report that proposes a more expansive capital-based model of poverty and decision-making. While policymakers and anti-poverty organisations have traditionally focused on boosting people’s economic capital (e.g. income) and human capital (e.g. educational attainment) to reduce poverty, the BIT’s findings suggest that other less tangible resources can significantly influence people’s ability to overcome disadvantage. The report explores the effects of improving six different types of capital resource, the traditional human and economic types, but also types that derive from psychological, social and cultural processes: cognitive capital (e.g. bandwidth), character capital (e.g. motivation), social capital (e.g. social networks), and environmental capital (e.g. housing quality). It also illustrates how investing in these types of psychological resource can help reduce poverty. For example, people in poverty performed better on tests and were more likely to consider making use of programmes that would benefit them, if they had recently been asked to recall a proud moment or past achievement (which built character capital). One point made by the BIT that really resonated with us here at Good Business was that investing in a person’s psychological resources can often have very fast benefits relative to interventions to boost economic and human capital, which often take a long time to produce results. We have always attempted to integrate empowerment into our behaviour change campaigns and so were glad to see that the effects of this approach are increasingly being scientifically proven to be effective.

(2) Breakfast Behind Bars

The Clink has published a new cookbook that features dozens of simple recipes from Albert Roux and other chefs to raise money for their work rehabilitating prisoners by training them to cook and serve in restaurants inside prisons. The overall aim of the charity is to reduce reoffending rates of ex-offenders, and it helped 188 prisoners last year through its programmes. We’re big fans of the charity’s approach, which uses four restaurants in jails, a garden to supply the restaurants, and an outside catering service to train prisoners so that they can be employed in the hospitality and horticulture industries upon release. Within 12 months, The Clink has served meals to 70,000 diners and found employment for 61 Clink graduates. Each prisoner works and trains for 40 hours a week. The restaurants themselves are smart, the food is tasty, and the model is sustainable – earlier this month our friends at the Sustainable Restaurants Association (SRA) awarded The Clink a three-star ‘Food Made Good’ rating that puts them in the top 20% of SRA members. If you’re interested in taste-ing out The Clink yourself, you can buy its new cookbook or make a reservation to eat breakfast or lunch at one of their prison restaurants. The Metro is also currently running a ‘Win dinner at The Clink’ competition. To be in with a shot at that, answer this simple question.

(3) Cash for Culture

The Italian government has introduced a €500 “culture bonus” awarded to every 18-year-old to spend on culturally-enriching pursuits such as going to theatres, concerts and museums, visiting archaeological sites, and buying books. The fund can be accessed via an app, where tickets and other items available to the users can be purchased, and will benefit 575,000 teenagers at a cost to the government of €290 million (£250 million). The scheme was announced as part of a wider government cultural program to match a billion euro increase in the country’s spending on defense and security with another billion euros to be spent on culture. The underlying rationale, as explained by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, is that terrorism and extremism need to be fought not only with extra police, border guards and intelligence, but also by using culture to strengthen the social fabric of the country. In times of economic crisis, the arts are one of the first areas to suffer, so this initiative is interesting for the value it places on the arts to promote social cohesion. It also provides an experimental approach to cultural funding as, rather than the government picking and choosing which institutions to financially support, the initiative transfers these decisions to individuals.

(4) The Clooney Commitment

Nestle's Nespresso had to halt coffee operations in South Sudan earlier this month due to flares in violence after the country’s opposition leader called for a return to war against the government. This is the third time that the brand has had to temporarily suspend its operations there since 2011, when it started working with local farmers to revive coffee production that had been destroyed by three decades of years of civil conflict in the region. The programme – initially inspired by the political activism of Brand Ambassador George Clooney who has long been involved in South Sudanese issues – aimed to invest $2.5 million to reach 8,000 farmers by 2020. Nespresso and their nonprofit partner Technoserve facilitated the creation of three coffee exporting cooperatives in the south of the country and exported the first commercial coffee to leave South Sudan in over 30 years. While the work that Nespresso is doing in South Sudan to enable access to unique coffee in an ethical and sustainable way is commendable, what is most impressive to us is the continued commitment to their initiative. As soon as the political situation in South Sudan stabalises, operations will resume once more, but in the meantime, TechnoServe will launch a radio programme to remotely train coffee farmers. Longevity is essential for real social impact, and Nespresso’s decision to commit investment to a conflict-ridden region despite regular and inevitable setbacks demonstrates the brand's drive to create lasting positive change where it is most needed, rather than merely where it would be easiest to enact. More of this please.

(5) Healthy Rebellion

A recent study has found that teenagers make wiser choices if they are encouraged to reimagine healthy behavior as an act of defiance. Researchers randomly assigned 489 students in a Texas middle school to different groups. One group read a traditional health article that explained how the body processes food; recommended a diet low in sugar and fat; and featured colorful pictures of fresh foods. The other group read an exposé of cynical practices by some food companies, such as reformulating food to make it more addictive and labeling unhealthy products to make them appear healthy. The next day, in a different class, when students were asked to choose which snacks they wanted teenagers who had read the exposé article chose fewer junk food items than those in the control groups. The study reframes teenage rebellion as a potential asset to be cultivated and elegantly demonstrates that when we’re trying to change behaviour we should think person, not issue – an approach we take in our own work discouraging tobacco use amongst youth for the Gates Foundation. If we consider what really motivates the audience we can change even the most embedded behaviours. In this instance, researchers have embraced teenagers’ rebelliousness to powerful effect.

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