“Just about everyone finds a way to pay something,” says Jonathan Starr, who several years ago quit a career in finance and used the millions he made on Wall Street to conduct a experiment in education on the parched, windy plains of western Somaliland, a mostly stable, autonomous region of Somalia.
Echoing Easterly, Starr recently asked readers of the Wall Street Journal to imagine if Marriott operated without any revenue or room-rate data. “Suppose it remitted money to cover salaries and other expenses, without knowing if any of it was producing a product for which customers were willing to pay…You don’t have to run a Fortune 500 company to know how quickly such a system would run amok.”
Yet, he wrote, when it comes to international aid, that’s precisely the system in place. “Without revenue or other customer satisfaction metrics, NGO executives and donors have no way of knowing whether employees on the ground are providing a product of value to their impoverished ‘customers.’” He says that’s because those executives aren’t on the ground themselves
By Patrick Adams