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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Roundup: ANDE Hires Exec Director; Can't-Miss BoP News

By Rob Katz

Francisco and I have been remiss in not posting more news & notes roundups here on NextBillion, so here's a shot at redemption - at least for today.? Without further ado, some news and notes within the Base of the Pyramid community:

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs - ANDE - just announced the hiring of its first Executive Director.? Randall Kempner will be based at the Aspen Institute; he starts January 6.? ANDE, which we've written about before, is basically a trade association for organizations working with small and growing businesses in low-income communities.? (Full disclosure: both Acumen Fund and World Resources Institute, who sponsor NextBillion.net, are members of ANDE.)For the curious, check out Randall's profile at Prosperity Strategies, the Council on Competitiveness and OTF Group.? We at NextBillion wish him the best of luck in his new job and look forward to working with ANDE to further the cause of small and growing businesses in developing countries.

In other base of the pyramid news, the Legatum-Fortune Technology Prize was announced earlier this week at a lavish dinner in Washington, DC.? The five finalists attended, each vying for the USD $1 million prize.? Ultimately, Comat Technologies and Microfinance International walked away victorious (they shared the purse).? The other finalists - Dimagi, Voxiva and Global Easy Water Products - are all worthy in their own right, and I'd encourage you to check out their web sites to learn more.? Ironically, Acumen Fund (my employers) has a relationship with all three non-winning organizations; hopefully we're not bad luck!? Voxiva and GEWP are both investees, in our health and water portfolios, respectively; we worked with Dimagi earlier this year to help another of our investments, Environment Planning Group Limited (EPGL), set up a SMS-based monitoring system for its filtration plants.? Cool stuff.

(Side note: I've got a sneaking suspicion that we've got to work on the 4-letter acronyms.? We recently did away with PDMS (Portfolio Data Management System) in favor of Pulse; now we have to work on EPGL and GEWP.? Suggestions?)

Finally, there were a couple of worthy stories in the mainstream media about business approaches to poverty alleviation recently.? The first, by BusinessWeek's Steve Hamm, is called "Social Entrepreneurs Turn Business Sense to Good" and features a slew of companies and initiatives making a real impact in the world.?

The second, "From Microfinance to Microinsurance," is more topic specific but no less interesting.? Written by Forbes' Andrew Kuper, it discusses the emerging trends in microinsurance and the huge, untapped market for these products at the base of the pyramid.

Both are must-read articles.

If there are articles, news stories, events or other happenings in the base of the pyramid world that you're not seeing here on NextBillion, please let us know, and we'll mention the best in future roundups.? Thanks!
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