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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 — North Africa and Near East

Housing Microfinance 'To Take Off in Africa'

Source: Business Day

The trend of providing microloans to poor people to buy houses is likely to rocket in the next few years as an alternative to conventional bank mortgages, says low-income finance expert David Porteous . While delegates to the African Microfinance Conference in Cape Town agreed that housing microfinance was gaining ground across Africa, commitments by the large South African banks could provide a fresh twist to this tale. Un...
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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 — No Region Specified

Aid is Not the Answer

Source: The Wall Street Journal

There is an inherent paradox in the debate about poverty alleviation that escapes even the most sophisticated observers in the West. Consider the conventional thinking about China and India: They are seen as a threat to the West. The fear is not only about exporting well paying U.S. jobs but also about competition for resources such as oil and commodities. Yet India is home to more than 500 million people who live on less than $3 a day. In China...
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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 — No Region Specified

Neglected Poor in Africa Make Their Own Safety Nets

Source: The New York Times

Nogaye Sow is a humble street vendor in a rough patch of urban Africa, but hidden in her flowing robe is a weathered piece of cardboard that helps put her on equal footing with those who work in air-conditioned offices instead of at the curb. It is a makeshift health insurance card, with photographs of her, her seven children, her granddaughter and two other relatives pasted inside. When they get sick, they receive free consultations at the clinic down the road, cut-rate medicine and peace of...
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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 — No Region Specified

Intel's Community Computer

Source: Techtree.com

Following AMD's PIC, Intel showcased a rugged PC designed for developing countries, that can tolerate harsh climate, intermittent electricity, dust and bugs while accessing the Internet without wires. Via video from India at the Intel Developer Forum, San Francisco, the Intel-based PC, or community computer is meant to provide Internet access to entire communities and villages in rural and remote areas. The effort is in line with Intel's strategy to bes...
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Monday, August 29, 2005 — No Region Specified

Remote villages to be electrified on local renewable sources

Source: NewKerala.com

NEW DELHI: Remote villages of Jarha-Chetwa and Jemara in Uttar Pradesh no longer use the local-made bottle-dibri or kerosene lamps for lighting their homes after sunset -- instead they now have switched on to electric bulbs. Located beyond the reach of normal electric grid supply, Jarha-Chetwa in the mountainous region of Sonebhadra district of Uttar Pradesh has been provided with solar-powered electricity in June this year, involving an investment of Rs 45 lakh. And, othe...
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Monday, August 29, 2005 — No Region Specified

Sidbi signs pact for co-financing in SME

Source: Financial Express

To give a major thrust to small and medium enterprises (SME) lending, Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) and Small Industries Development Bank of India have signed an MOU for co-financing the projects in the segment. Under the agreement, term loan for viable projects in the sector would be financed by Sidbi, while the working capital requirement would be fulfilled by IOB. Initially, the scheme would be implemented at select clusters, including Chennai, Erode, Tiruchi and Madurai and would later be ex...
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Monday, August 29, 2005 — No Region Specified

Little drops make ocean: Microfin is big biz now

Source: The Economic Times

Two decades and over 3,000 MFIs later, the microfinance movement in the country has finally come of age. While retaining its core value, the sector has emerged as a huge business opportunity waiting to be tapped. ?All stakeholders have now realised that microfinance is a powerful tool that can make a difference,? says Udaia Kumar, MD of Share Microfin, a leading microfinance institution. ?There is acknowledgment that that rural masses are bankable,? he adds. While commerci...
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Monday, August 29, 2005 — No Region Specified

Africa's cellphone boom creates a base for low-cost banking

Source: Christian Science Monitor

The first bank-by-phone system is designed for poor South Africans, enabling saving and access to credit Cellphones are already used for music downloads, text messaging, and video games. But here in South Africa, they are beginning to perform another function: personal piggy bank.
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Friday, August 26, 2005 — No Region Specified

Banks take note as expats send $300bn home

Source: Financial Times

When Ram Panday wants to send money back to Kathmandu, he never uses a bank. ?Too expensive, too complicated, too open,? says the Nepali T-shirt maker. Instead he hands a bundle of notes across a grubby desk in Bangkok's lively Watergate garment district. A few hours later a similar sized wad is delivered to his family home. The estimated 180m expatriates in the world send home $300bn (?244bn) a year, half through informal or unmonitored channels, according to payment...
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Friday, August 26, 2005 — No Region Specified

USD 50M Microfinance Fund Established in Ghana

Source: GhanaWeb.com

ACCRA: The Ghanian government has set up a 50 million-dollar microfinance fund to be disbursed to small-scale businesses in rural communities under the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS). Papa Kofi Mensah, Micro-Finance Coordinator, Office of the Senior Minister, who announced this at the annual review of the Social Investment Fund (SIF) in Accra on Thursday, said that office would be the main coordinator of the fund. He said an independent body that comprised stakeholders with i...
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Friday, August 26, 2005 — No Region Specified

Third-world lending program to encompass technology

Source: IT Business

SAN FRANCISCO: If the world?s poorest people are willing to take out small business loans to buy a goat, executives at Intel Corp. believe they?ll do the same thing to purchase computers and cell phones. While the chipmaker is gathering developers this week to discuss products for its enterprise customers in the Western world, a professor at Intel?s research centre in the University of California at Berkeley said micro-credit financing and franchising may open untapped market opportu...
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Friday, August 26, 2005 — No Region Specified

For Africa, a godsend in cellphones

Source: The International Herald Tribune

YANGUYE, South Africa On this dry mountaintop, 24 miles down a washboard dirt road from the nearest town, 36-year-old Bekowe Skhakhane must do even the simplest tasks the hard way. Fetching water from the river takes four hours a day. To cook, she gathers sticks and musters a fire. Light comes from candles. The older of her five children hike three hours to school each way. But when Skhakhane wants to talk to her husband, who works in a steel factory 250 miles, or 400 kilometers away,...
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Thursday, August 25, 2005 — No Region Specified

Pee-powered battery smaller than a credit card

Source: NewScientist.com

The first urine-powered paper battery has been created by physicists in Singapore. The credit-card sized unit could be a useful power source for cheap healthcare test kits for diseases like diabetes, and could even be used in emergency situations to power a cellphone, they say. Testing urine can reveal the identity of illnesses, and the new paper battery could allow the sample being tested to also power the diagnostic device. ?We are striving to develop cheap, disposable ...
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Thursday, August 25, 2005 — No Region Specified

HCL to power computer sales in India

Source: The Financial Express

HCL Infosystems Ltd., an Indian personal-computer maker and distributor of Nokia Oyj phones,expects sales of computers in the South Asian country to accelerate as falling prices make them more affordable. PCs are starting to become more affordable, broad band is making its appearance in a big way and multilingual software is also coming in reasonable numbers, especially with Microsoft Corp. launching its operating system in multiple languages,'' said Ajai Chowdhry, chair...
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Thursday, August 25, 2005 — No Region Specified

Source: The New York Times

Cellphones Catapult Rural Africa to the 21st Century On this dry mountaintop, 36-year-old Bekowe Skhakhane does even the simplest tasks the hard way. Fetching water from the river takes four hours a day. To cook, she gathers sticks and musters a fire. Light comes from candles. But when Ms. Skhakhane wants t...
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Thursday, August 25, 2005 — No Region Specified

Rabobank Consortium Acquires Interest in Tanzanian Bank

Source: Press Release

The Tanzanian government announced that it has selected a consortium, led by Rabobank , as the winner in a tender for the purchase of the National Microfinance Bank (NMB). The purchase means that Rabobank, together with its partners, will acquire 49% of the shares in NMB. The agreement also stipulat...
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Thursday, August 25, 2005 — No Region Specified

The Private Sector Can Get Water Flowing to the Poor

Source: Financial Times

Private Sector Can Get Water Flowing to the Poor Worldwide, 1.1bn people, mainly in poor countries, do not have access to clean, safe water. The shortage of water helps to perpetuate poverty, disease and early death. However, there is no shortage of water, at least not globally. We use a mere 8 per cent of the water available for human consumption. Instead, bad policies are t...
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005 — No Region Specified

Credit Caution

Source: Business Day

Do we really need more credit cards? Standard Bank and Edgars Consolidated Stores (Edcon) clearly believe we do. Their new joint venture will offer credit cards to Edcon's store card holders with good credit records. More than two-thirds of the 3.8-million customers with Edgars, Jet and other Edcon store cards do not have credit cards -- probably because they don't believe they will qualify. Standard, the leading player in South Africa's credit card market, sees a new mark...
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Monday, August 22, 2005 — No Region Specified

Cell Phone Weather Data Could Aid Farmers

Source: Business Day

CELLPHONES telling farmers when to irrigate their crops could help them boost production and save water, sugar growers say, as a pilot project helps small emerging farmers. Small-scale black farmers around Pongola, a few kilometres south of South Africa?s border with Swaziland, receive one text message a week telling them whether they...
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Friday, August 19, 2005 — No Region Specified

Over the Counter Aid

Source: Forbes

Over-the-Counter Aid From rock stars to world leaders, moving Africa out of poverty has become the feel-good cause of the day. Commissions of political bigwigs report on it, summits issue communiqu?s on it, musicians play for it. Meanwhile, business is quietly getting on with doing something about it.
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Friday, August 19, 2005 — No Region Specified

Credit Access Facility Launched in Kenya

Source: The East African

A Ksh1.7 billion ($22) million credit access facility has been launched in Kenya to enhance competitiveness of the micro-enterprise sector. The Enterprise Competitiveness Project, is a joint initiative of the government and the World Bank with KPMG, the Kenya Institute of Management, Delloitte and Touche and Business Partners International, among other technical partners. The chairman of t...
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005 — No Region Specified

For the Poor, Help from MBAs

Source: BusinessWeek

They're bringing microfinancing, business development -- and eventually a consumer economy -- to many impoverished Third World areas Sue Igoe, a second-year MBA student at Columbia Business School in New York , is returning from her summer internship invigorated and ready to learn how to make a...
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Monday, August 15, 2005 — South Asia

ITC expects agri unit to post 20% growth

Source: Business Standard

ITC Ltd expects its agri businesses division to see a 20 per cent growth in 2005-06. According to S Sivakumar , CEO, the division's turnover stood at Rs 2,000 crore last fiscal. Story found here. The company's supply chain project e-...
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Monday, August 15, 2005 — No Region Specified

Philips launches global initiative to develop solutions for ultra low-cost mobile phones

Source: Press Release

Sets out roadmap for sub-$5 hardware and software platform to drive handset costs below $20 Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) today announced a global initiative to develop ultra low-cost mobile phones to bring the benefits of the technology to an untapped global customer base of 3.3 billion people. The first product from the project will be a sub-$5 system solution ? an integrated hardware and software platform constituting all the electronics needed in a m...
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Friday, August 12, 2005 — No Region Specified

A Tool to Tackle Poverty

Source: Peace Journalism

A country with overwhelming agrarian population, 80 percent of whom have no access to formal credit, the microcredit lending has come up as a slowly but steadily growing viable alternative in rural Nepal . Around 800,000 rural population in the country ? mostly representing the women and poorest section of society ? are currently benefiting from microcredit service provided by various institutions and NGOs. Around Rs 20 billion...
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Friday, August 12, 2005 — No Region Specified

Mobile sales contribute to poverty reduction: GrupoNueva?s Amanco

Source: WBCSD

Story found here. AMANCO is a Latin American leader in the production and marketing of integrated solutions for the construction, infrastructure and irrigation industries. AMANCO is part of GrupoNueva, a holding company operating throughout Latin America for more than 60 years, with more than 30 firms and factories located in 13 countries and...
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Wednesday, August 10, 2005 — No Region Specified

New medical screening beneficial to Third World

Source: Business Weekly

Plastronics pioneer, Plastic Logic has hit upon a new application for its technology that could vastly improve access to medical screening in the developing world. The Cambridge Science Park based company is developing a digital X-ray system, more robust, more portable and most importantly cheaper than any existing technology. Plastic Logic is predicting fast adoption in developing economies of its plastic electronic X-ray sensors. Currently two thirds of the world?s popul...
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Friday, August 05, 2005 — No Region Specified

The great rural goldrush

Source: The Hindu Business Line

A COMPANY wanted to market its toothpaste in rural areas. The minty, foaming product didn't find favour with the paan-/tobacco-chewing populace. Moreover, they questioned, when the company said sweet stuff was supposed to be bad for teeth, why was the paste sweet? The rural communications specialist the company took on did a trial project by getting the same market to sample a version of the toothpaste with less mint, less sugar, less foam and instead of a tube, put it into a box this time ...
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Friday, August 05, 2005 — No Region Specified

Mobile phones for ordinary folk

Source: Financial Express

?Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid? is a compelling idea whose time has come. CK Prahalad, the renowned management guru, has articulated this idea in his award-winning book with the same title (The New York Times best-seller of 2004). The crux of the message is a fresh attempt by leading edge technology companies to make products targeted at the bottom of the pyramid?the four billion people who live in Africa, China, India and South America?whose purchasing power is individually low, but col...
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Wednesday, August 03, 2005 — No Region Specified

Radioactive: The next billion mobile users, by Stewart Baines

Source: silicon.com

Last month, the GSM Association announced the second phase of its Ultra-Low Cost (ULC) mobile phone initiative, aimed at making cellular more affordable in the developing world. The first phase, announced at the 3GSM Congress in Cannes, saw Motorola scoop the prize of producing six million handsets at the sub-$40 level. The majority of these handsets have now been delivered to the operators backing the GSM Association initiative, including BSNL and Bharti from India, GrameenPhone fro...
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005 — No Region Specified

HCL unveils PC for Rs 9,990

Source: The Hindu Business Line

HCL Infosystems Ltd on Monday unveiled a fully functional low-cost personal computer at Rs 9,990. Mr Dayanidhi Maran, Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology, launched the Linux-based PC at a press meet. The low-cost PC comes with a 1 GHz processor from Taiwan-based VIA Technologies, 128 MB RAM, 40 GB hard disk, 15 inch digital colour monitor, 52X optical drive, keyboard and scroll mouse. It will support applications such as word processing, spreadshee...
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005 — No Region Specified

Intel Scientists Help Sell PCs

Source: Red Herring

?Two years ago, we came to the realization that we really need to understand the local markets and find unique solutions for them,? said Willy Agatstein, general manager of Intel?s channel definition and development group. The centers and the new business group aren?t Intel?s first attempt at selling its chips and motherboards to the often-small businesses that build and peddle computers in the less-developed world. The chip giant began working with these computer builders and retail...
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Monday, August 01, 2005 — No Region Specified

The African Hacker, by G. Pascal Zachary

Source: IEEE Spectrum

Chinery-Hesse's ability to build a thriving software business in an economic climate where the need for information technology is just beginning to grow has tested his ingenuity and made him a celebrity in Ghana. While hardly in the global technical vanguard, Chinery-Hesse is counted as one of a handful of the most important software developers in Africa, says Eric Osiakwan, an IT specialist in Accra who consults for the World Bank. Hermann is our Bill Gates, and Soft is ou...
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Monday, August 01, 2005 — No Region Specified

Intel Opens Centers for Emerging Markets, by David Needle

Source: internetnews.com

The world's largest chipmaker wants to capture more of the world's market for its chips, motherboards and other components. Intel is going about that goal with a new program targeted at select geographies. Called platform definition centers, the program provides locally relevant computing solutions, based on Intel technology, of course. The goals of the new program are anything but modest. Bill Siu, general manager of Intel's recently formed Channe...
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