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Our Staff Writers and Editors offer insights on the latest news, events, interviews and other happenings from the development through enterprise and base of the pyramid universes
Monday, October 31, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: The Nation (Nairobi)

Microfinance institutions have been asked to lower their interest rates and work together towards economic recovery and poverty alleviation in the country. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) business adviser Fortunatius Okwiri asked the organisations to play a leading role in economic development and employment creation by offering loans and other financial services to more clients at affordable rates. Unlike major financial institutions which charge high i...
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Monday, October 31, 2005 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Electronic Currency: Malawi

Source: Emeka Okafor

In mid-September, cell phone users on Malawi's Telecom Networks (TNM) received a text message saying With TNM you can now recharge your friends mobile using TNM direct top up service. Just use the following command: *112*phone number*recharge pin*. Its that easy What does this mean? Well, TNM users, for the most part, are on a pay-as-you-go system--when you need more minutes, you buy scratch-off cards with a code to punch in for additional credit. TNM has also lo...
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Monday, October 31, 2005 — No Region Specified

Microfinance - Not a Gold Mine, but Saving Livelihoods

Source: AllAfrica.com

2005 is the UN Year of Microcredit Microfinance is widely viewed as a panacea for poverty alleviation and development; claims of income-generation activities and near-perfect returns on low-interest loans to the poor abound. However, this is only half of the story. A recently-completed research project concludes that the overwhelming majority of microfinance institutions (MFIs) are at pains to break even. This is le...
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Friday, October 28, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: AllAfrica.com

Africa's grey market VoIP operators are coming out into the light as attitudes and legislation change. The emergence of a VoIP service providers sector could prove almost as significant for Africa as the earlier emergence of independent ISPs. Because beyond the mobile companies, it has been the entrepreneurial energy and lobbying of ISPs that has driven regulatory change in many countries. The emergence of the newly legalised VoIP service providers (or those who hover in a legal 'no-m...
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Friday, October 28, 2005 — No Region Specified

Mobile companies may make the most money by going downscale

Source: BusinessWeek

When it comes to sexy mobile phones, the stars of the moment are multimedia wonders such as the new RAZR V3x handset from Motorola Inc. and Nokia Corp.'s top-of-the-line N-90 camera phone with Carl Zeiss optics. Yet for all the attention they grab, these pricey gizmos are a sliver of the 800 million unit-per-year mobile-phone business. Increasingly, the real action is at the unglamorous end of the scale, among bare-bones Nokia and Motorola models priced under $50. Sales of such phones, whic...
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Thursday, October 27, 2005 — South Asia

Getting connected in Rural India

Source: BBC Click Online

The tech market in Bangalore may be racing ahead, but it is a very different story for India's 700 million farmers. Spencer Kelly has been to Northern India to see how plans to bring technology to rural areas are working. A tranquil, green landscape, a people who live off the land, and village life built around ancient customs and traditions - this is most of India. In a village meeting, known as a choupal, the adults of Sabalpur are given the weekly news and discuss the pre...
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Thursday, October 27, 2005 — No Region Specified

London's Class Examines BoP Strategies

Source: WDI News

Ted London, who leads WDI?s Base of the Pyramid (BoP) research initiative, will begin teaching an MBA class on this exciting business phenomenon beginning on Nov. 1. London?s twice-weekly, 90-minute class, BA612 ? Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid, will integrate concepts of strategy, international business and sustainable enterprise to stimulate the leadership skills and competitive imagination needed to design strategies for the base of the pyramid. Throu...
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Thursday, October 27, 2005 — No Region Specified

Innovative Project Bridges Digital & Housing Divide

Source: Government Technology

A dream of bridging the digital divide is coming true in the countryside outside Mexico City. A municipality called Tecamac in the state of Mexico witnessed birth of Real del Sol, a development of 1,800 small but attractive homes surrounded by palm trees, quiet streets and a connection to the world. Surprisingly it is a pilot project in Mexican low-income housing. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that each hom...
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Thursday, October 27, 2005 — No Region Specified

Industry stalwarts discuss the enormous potential of the 'Bottom of the Pyramid' concept in the Indi

Source: Business Standard

Ensemble 2005, the annual festival of XLRI, would be held at Jamshedpur on November 12 and 13 in a format that would be different from the general B-school Festival format in the sense that it would have events for students, corporates, and B-school aspirants. The games and case studies would be taken as usual from real life incidents and problems faced by sponsors of the event, a release issued by XLRI said. Industry stalwarts would discuss the enormous potential of the 'Bottom o...
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Thursday, October 27, 2005 — No Region Specified

The social enterprise business model is a proven means of developing people-centred activities that

Source: The Independent

Nowadays, it is not enough for a business merely to make money. Companies also have to demonstrate that they care about the society and environment in which they operate. This notion has caught on to such an extent that the concept it helped to create Corporate Social Responsibility has itself become a big business. But, while this is largely an additional activity indulged in by large companies, a new type of small business is springing up. Social enterprise...
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Thursday, October 27, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: The Toronto Star

The Bank of Nova Scotia has been running a quiet little experiment in banking for the past three years in some of Jamaica's poorest communities that it says might one day yield results across all its far-flung international operations. The bank has ventured into the field of microfinance, traditionally the realm of advocacy groups and charities, making small loans to people who otherwise would never be able to borrow from a traditional bank. Loans can be as small as $...
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Thursday, October 27, 2005 — No Region Specified

$3B in OFW remittances eludes banks

Source: INQ7 (Philippines)

As much as $3 billion in cash sent home by overseas Filipino workers is still coursed through non-bank channels such as couriers, Governor Amando Tetangco of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP, the central bank) said Wednesday, citing findings of a government study. Banks are expected to capture $10.3 billion in OFW remittances this year and will likely capture a bigger proportion as the money inflows continue expanding in the years ahead, Tetangco said. As we are...
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Wednesday, October 26, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: Sun Star

In one of our media fora in Club 888 at Marco Polo Hotel many weeks ago, I confronted representatives of the regional office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) by saying that our government is so involved in small and medium enterprises to the extent that less attention and funding are given to micro businesses. I've pointed out to them that if we are really serious in addressing our widespread poverty, it is most advisable that our government should equally attend to the needs an...
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Wednesday, October 26, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: Mail & Gaurdian Online

British tycoon Richard Branson launched a business school on Wednesday in Johannesburg aimed at budding entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa. The South African economy is dependent on entrepreneurial activity for creating future economic growth and jobs, Richard Branson said at the launch of the Branson School of Entrepreneurship at Cida City Campus, the first project to carry his name. I hope to up the percentage of successful companies in So...
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Wednesday, October 26, 2005 — North Africa and Near East

A responsible profit from the war on malaria

Source: Financial Times

?Business is for profit, and profit is for a purpose,? he says. ?This makes business sustainable and profit responsible.? When he was 19, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen left school, went hitchhiking and wound up in Cairo, where he met a couple of Nigerian wheeler dealers. They told him about some ?easy business? importing trucks, but he eventually decided he would be better off without partners. ...
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Wednesday, October 26, 2005 — No Region Specified

Cornell students help corporations and Kenya's poor build business partnerships

Source: Chronicle Online

Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, is one of East Africa's largest slums and the setting for the recent film The Constant Gardener, which presents images of grinding poverty, tempered by people's spirit of endurance. A story of another kind is also unfolding in Kibera and in Nyota township in rural Kenya -- one in which a multinational corporation assumes the unlikely role of business partner to poo...
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005 — No Region Specified

Clockwork Laptop To Link Poorest Parts Of Third World To The Internet

Source: Bristol United Press

Note: This article gives additional details about the power source being integrated into MIT's new laptop being designed for developing countries. It combines sophisticated modern technology with one of the oldest mechanisms known to man. Researchers yesterday unveiled plans for the clockwork laptop, a new generation of computer that its West designers hope will bring the internet to even the most impoverished parts of the Third World. The laptop, which will cost j...
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005 — No Region Specified

Developing Lands Hit Hardest by 'Brain Drain'

Source: The New York Times

Poor countries across Africa, Central America and the Caribbean are losing sometimes staggering portions of their college-educated workers to wealthy democracies, according to a World Bank study released yesterday. The study's findings document a troubling pattern of brain drain, the flight of skilled middle-class workers who could help lift their countries out of poverty, some analysts say. And while the exact effects are still little understood, there is a growing s...
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005 — No Region Specified

Nokia sees chance in underdeveloped areas

Source: China Daily

Nokia, the world's leading mobile phone supplier, sees China's vast less-developed regions as a major driving force behind its future growth, a company executive said. David Ho, president of Nokia (China) Investment Co Ltd, said Nokia will make substantial efforts to introduce low-price mobile phones to China to tap the less-developed markets. Mobile phone subscriber growth in big cities is continuing to slow since market penetration is already h...
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Monday, October 24, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: The Economic Times

I have often said that change in India is of the morphing, creeping kind, not of the mega-trend, discontinuity kind. One such creeping change is the increasing private sector partnerships with development sector organisations, to create win-win solutions to help alleviate the problems of the poor, in an affordable yet profitable way. However, the coming together of people from two worlds which are wired so differently has been fraught with problems, and that?s what this article is about ? what ...
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Monday, October 24, 2005 — No Region Specified

Advertising spending booms in emerging markets

Source: Financial Times

Advertising spending is soaring in the developing world, suggesting that US-style consumerism is alive and well everywhere from Brazil and Russia to Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. In a report to be released today, ZenithOptimedia, a leading advertising buyer, says buoyant conditions in emerging markets have caused it to lift its forecast for global advertising spending growth to 5.2 per cent this year, up from the 4.7 per cent it estimated in June. Worldwide spending will ri...
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Monday, October 24, 2005 — No Region Specified

Investing for good has VC doing well, thanks

Source: San Francisco Business Times

'Social investing' is getting second looks. Priya Haji has a vision. And it's big. At one level, she is building a bags-and-bangles business to compete in the $55 billion American gift market. On another, she sees a world where every consumer product is made by someone who is treated fairly. And she's creating the technology to measure that. The serial entrepreneur and 2003 graduate of the Haas School of Business at the University of California...
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Monday, October 24, 2005 — No Region Specified

Entrepreneur for Social Change

Source: US News and World Report

In the summer of 1963, Bill Drayton witnessed the power of a simple idea to effect vast social change. A Gandhian named Vinoba Bhave was walking across India and persuading individuals and whole villages to legally gift their land to him. Bhave then redistributed the land more equitably to support untouchables and other landless people, thus breaking an endless cycle of poverty. Drayton, just 20 years old and...
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Friday, October 21, 2005 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Mo Ibrahim: Revolutionising communications in Africa. His tool? The mobile phone

Source: New Statesman

For a man who describes himself as a former Marxist, Mo Ibrahim has clearly made his peace with the forces of capitalism. The chairman of the fastest-growing mobile phone group in sub-Saharan African talks with relish of breaking down the Arab business world's wariness towards his continent, of cellphones making the internet virtually redundant. Few inventions can boast as dramatic an impact on society as the mobile phone in Africa. Embraced there long before it became commonplac...
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Friday, October 21, 2005 — No Region Specified

Electronic Payments Gain Favour With Banks

Source: The Nation (Nairobi)

By the end of this year, Kenya's banks expect to issue nearly half a million new credit cards. Last year only seven banks were issuing the cards. Today they are more than 16. These developments in the private sector are mirrored in the public sphere. Earlier this year, the Central Bank of Kenya launched the Kenya Electronic Payment and Settlement System (KEPSS), which enables customers to pay and receive large payments on a real-time basis. In a society where 'cash is kin...
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005 — Latin America

Latin American companies find new business partners in unexpected places

Source: WBCSD News

?We need to provide opportunities all the way down to the base of the pyramid to alleviate poverty? International companies in Colombia and El Salvador are learning what it takes to do business with the low-income communities in their own backyards. Sustainable livelihoods is a practical way to do business in Latin America, sa...
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005 — No Region Specified

Business Schools Increasingly Provide Education in Social and Environmental Issues, Survey Finds

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

Business schools are doing a better job of preparing students to navigate social and environmental business issues, in part by offering more courses in ethics, corporate social responsibility, and environmental sustainability, according to survey results that are scheduled to be released today. Among the institutions surveyed, 54 percent require one or more courses in ethics, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or business and society -- an increase of almost 60 percent ...
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005 — South Asia

Poor rural India? It's a richer place by Anand Giridharadas

Source: International Herald Tribune

The chasm between India's flourishing cities and bleak rural hinterland is narrowing. ? Spread across 650,000 villages, with an average population of 1,100, rural villagers were long imagined by city dwellers as primitive, impoverished and irrelevant, something to drive past on the way to something else. ? That is no longer the case. ? A new prosperity is sprouting in rural India, with tens of millions entering the pressure-cooker-and-television-owning class and...
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Tuesday, October 18, 2005 — No Region Specified

China, India, Turkey, Vietnam, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria Offer Greatest Investment Opportunities

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers Press Release

Winning Brands, Winning Formats are Keys to Success LONDON, 11 October 2005 ? Seven countries, China, India, Turkey, Vietnam, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria, offer the strongest investment opportunities for retail and consumer companies according to the fourth edition of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Retail & Consumer study titled, From Beijing to Budapest: Winning Brands, Winning Formats. Of the seven priorities, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria joined the list for the...
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Monday, October 17, 2005 — No Region Specified

The company is working towards enabling the online delivery model, where customers can place orders

Source: DQ Channels

After having launched its low-cost PC in the Indian market, HCL is looking forward to injecting new vigor to its existing distribution strategy to tap the huge market potential in the Indian region. With an aim to increase its distribution footprint in the country, the company is all set to work on a two-pronged strategy. As part of this, HCL would be working closely with popular Internet portals in order to market its affordable product and the company would also be strengthening its existing d...
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Monday, October 17, 2005 — No Region Specified

Cell phones reshaping Africa

Source: CNN.com / AP

Amina Harun, a 45-year-old farmer, used to traipse around for hours looking for a working pay phone on which to call the markets and find the best prices for her fruit. Then cell phones changed her life. We can easily link up with customers, brokers and the market, she says, sitting between two piles of watermelons at Wakulima Market in Kenya's capital. Harun is one of a rapidly swelling army of wired-up Africans -- an estimated 100 million of t...
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Monday, October 17, 2005 — Latin America

Source: Finance for Development

Banco Uno Panama and Banco Uno El Salvador are granted a seven-year loan totaling USD 27.5 million by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and its German partner DEG. The loan is to be used to extend Banco Uno's credit card services to lower-income households. This will give many such households in Central America for the first time access to financial services. This will allow them to borrow and save money and thus gain access to the formal economy. Grupo Financiero...
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Monday, October 17, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: The Telegraph

Calcutta, Oct. 16: Global micro-financiers Unitus and ACCION International have formed an alliance for India to reach out to 15 million households here within the next 10 years. ?While almost 10 per cent of the world population are benefited by micro-finance, it reaches only 1-2 per cent population in India. So, it is our endeavour to accelerate its growth in the country in association with local partners,? said Geoff Davis, president and chief executive officer, Unitus. U...
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Monday, October 17, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: Asia Pulse News

MUMBAI, Oct 17 Asia Pulse - Citigroup CEO Charles Prince wants the US banking major to grab a larger slice of India's micro finance sector in order to generate more business for its local banking operations. The group will continue to look at organic growth in India and appoint more people there, Prince said. We have long presence in India having more than 100 years of operations here. Our operations have been nice so far. However, we can do a lot more, he ...
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Monday, October 17, 2005 — South Asia

Source: TodayOnline.com

US-based semiconductor maker AMD said it would enter a joint venture with an Indian firm to sell personal computers for the same cost as cellphones. The company said it had joined with local technology firm HCL Infosystems to sell a personal computer for less than 10,000 rupees (220 dollars) to boost ownership in the nation of one-billion plus people with only 15 million users. That is in line with the cost of cellphones with a camera which retails for about 8,000 rupee...
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Friday, October 14, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: The Hindu Business Line

PLANNING to purchase a low-cost personal computer? HCL Infosystems on Thursday has launched an AMD-powered, Linux-based PC priced at Rs 9,990. The new HCL Ezeebee Pride computer ? unveiled by the Communications and IT Minister, Mr Dayanidhi Maran ? comes with a configuration of AMD x 86 1.6 GHz processor, 128 MB RAM, 40 GB Hard Disk Drive, 52X CD ROM, 15-inch colour monitor and Linux Operating System, and supports applications such as word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, Web b...
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Friday, October 14, 2005 — No Region Specified

Let A Thousand Brands Bloom: Multinationals are competing with local companies for a more discerning

Source: BusinessWeek

Five years ago General Motors Corp. () offered just a handful of car models in China -- mostly large, high-end Buicks costing around $40,000. That limited selection worked in a market dominated by fleet sales to government offices and enterprises: What these customers wanted were large sedans for hauling big shots. We were targeting institutional buyers, who were our big market back then, says Kevin Wale, president of GM China. Fast-forward to the present, and it's ha...
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Friday, October 14, 2005 — Asia Pacific

China's Life Insurance Sector Should Tap Rural Areas: McKinsey

Source: Asia Pulse

To strengthen China's emerging life insurance sector the country should make more effort to exploit the huge potential in vast rural regions, suggested a report from McKinsey & Company. According to the report, most insurance companies don't provide sufficient coverage in under-developed areas. New entrants, especially foreign insurers, have concentrated on the wealthiest, most developed areas, leaving vast under-developed areas of the country without recourse to this pow...
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005 — No Region Specified

FOUNDATION WILL HELP FOR-PROFIT EFFORTS AS WELL AS NON-PROFITS

Source: The Mercury News

When Google went public more than a year ago, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin promised to use 1 percent of the company's equity and profits to create a philanthropic organization that could ``eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact.'' Now the company is starting to make good on this promise. Over the next 20 years, Google will spend money equivalent to 3 million shares of its stock -- about 1 percent of the number of shares it had when it wen...
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005 — No Region Specified

But TI exec reckons even users in developing countries will opt for phones with more capabilities

Source: InfoWorld

Mobile phones could be sold wholesale for as little as $15 by the end of 2008, although the result might be a handset nobody wants, an executive from chip maker Texas Instruments (Profile, Products, Articles) said Tuesday. It's definitely possible, though that's a very aggressive target, said Bill Krenik, manager of TI's advanced wireless chip architectures, in a telephone interview. The GSM Association set the $15 wholesale price target during the recent 3GSM...
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005 — No Region Specified

Entrepreneurship Thrives in an Enabling Culture

Source: The East African Standard

Research reveals that there is a powerful connection between the culture of a people and its propensity to be entrepreneurial. Kenya, for example, has national sub-cultures which have important implications for creating an entrepreneurial economy. That would mean that in the effort to build greater entrepreneurship, it is useful to first understand the culture of a people and work with it, not against it. Let us begin with two fundamental questions: What is culture? Why is it important...
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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 — No Region Specified

Businesses That Profit the World

Source: BusinessWeek

By Vivek Wadhwa I'm mentoring a team aiming to enter Duke University's contest for startups that improve life in poor nations while generating earnings In Hollywood, it seems that everyone wants to be a star or has a script for the next great blockbuster. Tech entrepreneurs, similarly, dream of launching the next eBay. In universities, business-plan competitions are the rage. Contest winners earn big prizes, yet few ever achieve business success or leave a mark on ...
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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 — No Region Specified

In today's customer-centered market, companies need to meet buyers' often-unspoken needs. Here are

Source: Business Week

It is tough leading a company today when the initiatives you are expected to control are buffeted by constantly changing forces. The rules business once lived by have been turned upside down. Power has shifted from producers to customers, for instance. Any color they want as long as it's black has been replaced by: What they want, when they want it, at the price they want. It's not only the customers who have gained control, the companies close to the ...
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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 — No Region Specified

Google, AMD, Brightstar, News Corporation, and Red Hat have signed on to MIT's low-cost laptop initi

Source:

MIT Media Lab, taking a page out of a revolutionary business book by C.K. Prahalad, is developing a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power sources -- including batteries or hand crank -- and will be able to do most everything that a standard laptop can do except store large amounts of data. According to MIT, these rugged laptops will be WiFi- and cell phone-enabled, and have USB ports, a 500MHz processor, and 1 gigabyte of storage capacity using flash memory ...
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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: Business Standard

Even though Professor CK Prahalad pioneered the notion of companies targeting the lowest rungs of the market way back in the mid 1990s, it was after his book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid was published about a year back, that the concept gained increasing momentum. His key argument: the so-called Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) with an estimated 4 billion people who live on less than US$ 1,500 per annum, is a major market opportunity. Not surprisingly, a number of...
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Friday, October 07, 2005 — No Region Specified

Generating Hope by Kevin Bullis

Source: Technology Review

Drinking water infested with germs and parasites or steeped in toxic chemicals is the number-one health problem in the world. It's so big, in fact, that the United Nations has proclaimed 2005-2015 to be the Water for Life decade. The UN goal is to get its member nations to honor their commitments to halving the proportion of individuals without access to safe drinking water. But such huge development programs run by international entities such as the UN ar...
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Thursday, October 06, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source:

At his first media interaction after taking over as Hindustan Lever's non-executive chairman, Harish Manwani was asked whether the company's practice of compulsory rural posting for its managers had outlived its utility. The question was relevant in the context of the increasing perception that the FMCG major is fast losing its celebrated status as the Mecca for top B-school students who are now reluctant to go through the mandatory heat and dust of rural postings.
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Tuesday, October 04, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: Balancing Act (London)

The idea is a simple one. Lower the price of a device and you will get more people to buy. Bottom-of-the-pyramid markets - those in the lowest global income band (below USD1500 a year) - provide a tantalising market opportunity. Wharton Business School academic C K Prahalad has argued this case in his book the Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. This week saw the launch of MIT's Nicholas Negroponte's USD100 laptop which makes ambitious claims to becoming more an educa...
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Tuesday, October 04, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: Red Herring

CThe low-cost computer was originally meant for farmers in India or residents of favelas in Brazil. But starting Sunday, U.S. consumers of modest means or those just looking for a good deal can also get a $299 computer. The Personal Internet Communicator, a brainchild of chip company Advanced Micro Devices, went on sale at Radio Shack over the weekend. The deal is a departure for AMD as it was specifically designed for developing countries. AMD first launched the device in India near...
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Tuesday, October 04, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: sinocast.com

Motorola is to produce 6 million mobile phones each is priced at USD 30 (USD1 = CNY 8.11), and telecom operators of developing countries will assume the responsibility for the product sale. However, the Emerging Market Handset Programme (EMH) does not develop as smooth as expected in China, said Huang Baozhong, Senior Advisor of the GSM Association. In China, telecom carriers are not interested in the programme, and consumers are unwilling to buy such cheap mobile phone...
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Monday, October 03, 2005 — South Asia

Multichannel Satellite TV Pushes Into the Hinterland to Tap Huge Growth Market

Source: The Wall Street Journal

A satellite-television boom in India is finally pushing multichannel TV into its vast rural hinterland and opening a new commercial battlefield in one of the world's biggest TV markets. Places like Lodra, a village of two thousand people and a few hundred mud huts, 700 kilometers north of here in Gujarat state, typify the new phenomenon. At dusk, hundreds of people routinely gather around a TV set propped on a wooden table in the village center. They will watch until early morning...
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