LeapFrog is the world’s first investment fund to focus on the insurance needs of low-income and financially excluded people. Launched by President Clinton and hailed by The Wall Street Journal and Private Equity International, LeapFrog has opened a new frontier for social investment and microfinance. Andy founded LeapFrog in January 2007, inspired by his extensive experience enabling entrepreneurs in emerging markets, and then co-built the firm with a team of former CEOs and pioneers in emerging markets insurance. Andy is a former Managing Director of Ashoka, which has financed and connected 2000 social entrepreneurs in over 60 countries. He worked with both Grameen and BRAC, the world's largest microfinance institutions, to market their social ventures. He also co-founded Kuper Research, which designed The Daily Sun, now sub-Saharan Africa's largest newspaper, with 5 million daily readers. Born and raised in South Africa, Andy is a serial social entrepreneur and author of books including Democracy Beyond Borders (Oxford) and Global Responsibilities (Routledge). He holds a PhD from Cambridge, where he was supervised by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who first stimulated Andy’s interest in market-based solutions to poverty.
Question: Is there any hope for optimism?
Andrew Kuper: I believe that there is progress on dealing with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. There was hugely successful campaign by the Treatment Action Campaign that actually got the government to reverse its position and start rolling out anti-retro vials and that is having an impact.
There’s exciting work being done on financing, support for HIV/AIDS medication and insurance. There is I think a more conducive political scene now for supporting dealing with HIV/AIDS in South Africa. It is a pandemic, it is dramatic, it is terrible. People are attending funerals every weekend, it is a huge portion of the population often the most productive, the most leading, the most moving part of the population, people of child bearing age are being wiped out by this AIDS holocaust and I think, it still does not get enough attention, President Clinton and Nelson Mandela have had a profound impact in this area, lowering the price of medications, encouraging movements that have changed government policy, that have changed civil society awareness.
I think with the Obama administration in place, we can move towards a holistic approach to reducing HIV/AIDS infection that uses all the tools in the box. So I think there are reasons to look at progress but in the face of this sort of massive devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, we simply can’t move fast enough and I think all of us should be up nights and working weekends to try to come up with innovative strategies and to take those strategies that are working and roll them out in the most intensive way possible.
Recorded on: May 1, 2009