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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
Tuesday, July 31, 2007 — South Asia

Sri Lanka Agribusiness Firms Reach out to Farmers

Source: Sri Lanka Community Portal

Sri Lanka's agribusiness companies have started a programme to get corporate executives to volunteer their services help farmers improve productivity, reduce waste and get better access to markets. The aim of the programme, launched under the aegis of the National Agribusiness Council (NAC), is to get member firms to provide two executives who will visit rural farmers during their leave period and help solve problems, said Mario de Alwis, former president of NAC. ...
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 — No Region Specified

Opportunity International Launches Microschools(TM) - New Frontier in Breaking the Chain of Poverty

Source: PR Newswire

OAK BROOK, Ill., July 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Opportunity International, a leading innovator in the microfinance industry, today announced the expansion of its microfinance school loans program to bring greater educational opportunity to poor children, especially girls. Microschools of Opportunity(TM) is a new initiative that provides loans to edupreneurs who open schools in poor neighborhoods where children cannot access public school for a variety of reasons. Groundbreaking r...
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 — No Region Specified

Acumen Invests In Start-Up Company Offering Ambulance Services To Urban India

Source: E-media Wire

New York, NY (PRWEB) July 31, 2007 -- Acumen Fund, a leading catalyst for sustainable, scalable solutions addressing poverty in South Asia and Africa, announced today that it has made a $1.5 million equity investment in Ziqitza Healthcare Limited (ZHL), a Mumbai-based company commonly referred to as DIAL 1298 FOR AMBULANCE that is rolling out a nationwide network of Life Support Ambulance Service. DIAL 1298 FOR AMBULANCE is filling the vacuum in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) / Adva...
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Monday, July 30, 2007 — No Region Specified

Microfinance Faces Debt Test in Brazil

Source: Reuters

In the shantytowns that surround Brazil's cities, plenty of peddlers and vendors say they could use a small loan. The trouble for microfinance lenders -- who believe loans as small as $50 can help poor entrepreneurs grow business and climb out of poverty -- is that many would-be borrowers in South America's largest economy are already loaded with debt. BRASILIA (Reuters) - In the shantytowns that surround Brazil's cities, plenty of peddlers and vendors say they could use a...
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Monday, July 30, 2007 — No Region Specified

Big Firms Rush to Tap Vast Market of Poor Consumers

Source: Reuters

The world's biggest corporations are scrambling to tap a market they have largely ignored for decades -- the world's 4 billion poor people. JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The world's biggest corporations are scrambling to tap a market they have largely ignored for decades -- the world's 4 billion poor people. From South Africa to Brazil, companies like Danone and Unilever sell individual packets of yoghurt and soap in rural villages and urban open-air markets. In the telecom...
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Monday, July 30, 2007 — No Region Specified

Report Casts Doubt on Giving Small Loans to Poor Entrepreneurs

Source: Inc

Global microfinance programs may not help reduce overall poverty in the developing world, new research shows. Despite ongoing efforts by the United Nations, microfinance programs offering small loans to local entrepreneurs do little to reduce poverty in the developing world, a new report says. In some cases, the programs may actually be making matters worse by encouraging borrowers to create subsistence enterprises that will never lift them out of poverty, according to Ane...
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Monday, July 30, 2007 — No Region Specified

See the Poor as Entrepreneurs, Consumers.

Source: Star Tribune

Extreme poverty in the world calls for a different kind of market-based solution, a business professor asserts. The numbers are staggering. Out of a total world population of 6.5 billion, 1.5 billion people are destitute, living on less than $1 per day with little or no access to potable water, basic nutrition or health care. Another 2.5 billion can be classified as extremely poor, living on less than $2 per day. Until recently, most of us living in the affluenc...
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Friday, July 27, 2007 — No Region Specified

Work In The States, Build A Life In Mexico

Source: Business Week

Once a month 28-year-old Ignacio Moreno (not his real surname) walks to a small storefront on Chicago's West 26th Street and plunks down $380. It's not the rent for his two-bedroom apartment, where he lives with his wife and two kids, but an installment payment on his dream home back in Mexico. A bakery employee who works the night shift since the family came to the U.S. illegally in late 2003, Moreno is paying for $10,000 worth of cement, gravel, and bricks for the four-bedroom house he...
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Friday, July 27, 2007 — No Region Specified

Exclusive: Negroponte on his Intel Triumph

Source: CNN Money

Nick Negroponte explains to Fortune's David Kirkpatrick how his effort to give poor children laptops took a giant leap by making peace with longtime nemesis Intel. NEW YORK (Fortune) -- It's been an eventful two weeks for the $100 laptop movement. On July 13 the group called One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) announced it would add Intel to its growing list of corporate supporters, which include Intel's chip rival AMD as well as Google, News Corp., eBay, Quanta Computer and others. Then on ...
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Friday, July 27, 2007 — South Asia

Micro Savings & Financial Inclusion

Source: The Economic Times

A large majority of the poor in India are outside the formal banking system. The policy of financial inclusion sets out to remedy this by making available a basic banking ?no frills? account either with nil or very minimum balances as well as charges that would make such accounts accessible to vast sections of the population. However, the mere opening of a bank account in the name of every household or adult person may not be enough, unless these accounts and financial services offere...
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Thursday, July 26, 2007 — No Region Specified

Transdniestria Law Boosts Private Homeownership, Gives Legal Title to the Poor

Source: Tiraspol Times

A new law by parliament in Transdniestria (Pridnestrovie) streamlines property ownership for the poor. It makes registration of rural homes possible even when no papers or title exist. The reforms are based on a wealth-creation roadmap by Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist. TIRASPOL (Tiraspol Times) - Coherent legal and property rights systems provide the difference in whether nations are economically successful. - The role of government is to protect economi...
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Thursday, July 26, 2007 — South Asia

Creating Value at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Source: Business Standard

Acumen has been spotting entrepreneurs keen to invest money in low-income markets in the areas of health, energy, housing and water. Can markets work for the poor? Acumen Fund, a non-profit venture fund, believes so. In Mumbai, the fund has tied up with the pharmacy chain Medicine Shop, which has 140 shops in high-end locations like Gurgaon bordering Delhi. The tie-up has given Medicine Shop, a new identity. It has opened new branches in the slums of Mumbai. The shops hav...
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007 — No Region Specified

Third World Way

Source: The Economist

The UN Global Compact may be the best way to draw corporations into the development process. Is its optimism justified? A CERTAIN zeal pervades meetings of the United Nations Global Compact. Not surprising, as its cause is lofty: to harness the power of business to make the world a richer, fairer and cleaner place. The idea is catching on. In early July, the compact?s annual summit drew over a thousand delegates to Geneva?s lakeside, from government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs...
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007 — No Region Specified

Procter & Gamble To Benefit In All But Name From Water Purifier

Source: International Herald Tribune

It is common for a company to donate some of its best-selling products to poor countries or poor neighborhoods to display good corporate citizenship. But how often does a company develop a product expressly for philanthropy, and then discover there is a market for it at home? That is what Procter & Gamble has been doing with sachets of its Pur water purifying powder, which it has distributed at cost in water-challenged countries for more than a decade. The program was n...
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007 — No Region Specified

The YouTube Effect Is a Wake-up Call

Source: Credit-Suisse e-magazine

Niche products rather than the mass market: Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and best-selling author explains the business of the future. Steven Soranno : Innovation is commonly believed to involve a high degree of creativity and thinking outside the box. In that sense, it can be thought of as more of an art than a science. What does innovation mean to you? Chris Anderson: Innovation is advancing the ball. It is evolving or creating...
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007 — No Region Specified

Think Small- Brand Equity

Source: Economic Times (India)

They are everywhere ? in the industrial belts of Okhla and Badarpur around Delhi, the twisting lanes and bylanes of Bhiwandi and Aurangabad in Maharashtra; the teeming outskirts of Kanpur; the agricultural flats surrounding Ludhiana; in the shadows of Lucknow?s many masjids and maqbaras, and along the palm-fringed backwaters of Kerala. They are the innumerable small and medium-sized Indian enterprises that are busy advertising and building brands at one level or another ? without any help from I...
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007 — Latin America

P&G's Global Target: Shelves of Tiny Stores

Source: Wall Street Journal

Every day, Martina P?rez D?az spends about five hours sewing 70 pairs of black loafers by hand for a wage of 120 pesos, or about $11. When she wants to wash her hair, she walks to her local tiendita, or small store, to buy a 0.34 ounce, single-use packet of Procter & Gamble Co.'s Head & Shoulders shampoo. The price: two pesos, or about 19 cents. That I usually can afford, she says. [Martina Perez Diaz] Shoppers like Ms. D?az factor heavily i...
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Monday, July 23, 2007 — No Region Specified

Trick Lies in Treating the Poor as if They Are Rich

Source: Business Day

THE idea that money can be made from the poor has attracted much interest in the past couple of years, fuelled by books such as The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid and Banker to the Poor. Brazil is one market with plenty of potential. Millions of people live near the poverty line. Income distribution is among the most unequal in the world. More than half of all jobs are in the informal sector. More than half of the economically active population have no bank account.
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Monday, July 23, 2007 — No Region Specified

Bringing Tech to the Next Four Billion

Source: Fortune

The thing about poor people is that they pay for services, says Allen Hammond of the World Resources Institute. How else are they going to get them? ?The thing about poor people is that they pay for services,? says Allen Hammond of the World Resources Institute. ?How else are they going to get them?? That bittersweet remark anchored a panel on ?The Next Four Billion? at Fortune?s iMeme conference. Hammond?s research indicates that the four billion poorest peopl...
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Monday, July 23, 2007 — No Region Specified

Microfinance Draws Mega Players

Source: BusinessWeek

If you think microfinance is the exclusive domain of do-gooders seeking a free-market cure to global poverty, think again. While much of the money flowing into loans for the working poor is indeed ponied up by people with high-minded goals, these days its coming increasingly from those with a sharp eye for the bottom line?raising new questions over how to balance the altruistic mission of microfinance with the pursuit of profits. The high interest paid on microloans makes the operatio...
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Monday, July 23, 2007 — No Region Specified

Scojo Foundation provides cheap eyeglasses to the third world

Source: International Herald Tribune

Surrounded by measuring tapes and ornate paintings of Hindu gods hanging on the walls of his dimly lighted workshop, Adimulam Devanand pushed the bridge of his glasses up his nose and hunched over a sewing machine to stitch a shirt. A year ago, Devanand, 42, had lost the ability to see objects as fine as a needle and thread, and his tailoring business was faltering. I'd given up working altogether, and my wife had to do all the work, he said over the ...
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Monday, July 23, 2007 — No Region Specified

Industrial and Rural Energy in China

Source: U.N. Chronicle

China's massive industrial sector is an economic juggernaut, helping to drive national gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates of around 10 per cent per year. But while the country's highly productive factories and plants may be boosting national prosperity, their rapid expansion carries with it a serious environmental burden and costly energy inefficiencies that are increasingly becoming a barrier to China's sustainable development, thus contributing to climate change.
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Thursday, July 19, 2007 — Asia Pacific

Innovate for India's Poor

Source: Wall Street Journal

When the Korean steelmaker Posco decided to invest $11 billion in the bleak hinterland of eastern India, it might have expected to be greeted with flowers. Instead, two Posco executives were recently kidnapped, but later released unharmed, in a protest over government policies to transfer land from struggling farmers to the mega-corporations driving India's modernization. It is only the latest evidence of gathering rage among the hundreds of millions who remain mute spectators to ...
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007 — No Region Specified

The Next Billion Banking Consumers

Source: The Boston Consulting Group

The problem of financial exclusion?individuals? limited access to, or use of, formal banking services?looms large. Governments and microfinance institutions have made some headway in alleviating exclusion, but banks have lacked a commercial impetus to do so, stifling the development of solutions that have the reach required to confront this problem. By embracing innovation, however, banks can upend the economics of reaching consumers long considered unserviceable, opening up opportunities for ...
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007 — No Region Specified

The Next Billion

Source: The Boston Consulting Group

The economic boom in emerging markets has bypassed a distinct group-the next billion consumers-whose potential to become viable customers has been greatly underestimated. Sitting on the brink of commercial viability, these consumers are stranded between the formal and informal sectors. Companies that embrace them can grab a disproportionate share of a massive revenue and profit pool. In fact, the next billion could determine the winners and losers in many industries and herald the rise of new ...
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Friday, July 13, 2007 — No Region Specified

Source: GreenBiz.com

The latest report from the Aspen Institute finds that courses dealing with the bottom of the pyramid -- markets serving the world's poor -- are growing exponentially in business programs around the world. The report highlights data from a biennial survey conducted by the Business and Society Program at the Aspen Institute. The Beyond Grey Pinstripes report surveys 112 business schools in 23 countries about their educati...
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Monday, July 9, 2007 — No Region Specified

Privatize Foreign Aid?

Source: Wall Street Journal

No subject has occupied more time at international conclaves than foreign aid. It's been called North-South transfers, debt forgiveness and the .7% solution. Back in 2005, Tony Blair's G-8 summit pledged $25 billion annually in new government assistance to Africa by 2010 on top of the $25 billion a year already in the pipeline. The G-8 is nowhere near meeting that commitment. So how about this alternative? Turn all foreign assistance over to the private sector. That's alre...
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Monday, July 9, 2007 — No Region Specified

Moving in to New Markets

Source: Irish Times via Evergreen

Business consultant CK Prahalad can see why big corporations are moving into low-income markets The world's biggest corporations are scrambling to tap a market they have largely ignored for decades - the world's four billion poor people. From South Africa to Brazil, companies like Danone and Unilever sell individual packets of yoghurt and soap in rural villages and urban open-air markets. In the telecommunications sector, the biggest growth area is among the poor, w...
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Monday, July 9, 2007 — No Region Specified

Dial M for Money

Source: The Economist

IT HAS already changed most people's lives, but there is more work ahead for the mobile phone. The trusty SIM card can also act as a debit and credit card. That means it may only be a matter of time before mobile phones are used to deposit, transfer and withdraw cash. In the developed world, one of the barriers hindering the switch to mobile cash has been the costly infrastructure developed by banks and credit-card companies. With cash machines and bank branches at every street co...
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Monday, July 9, 2007 — No Region Specified

In Poorer Nations, Cellphones Help Open Up Microfinancing

Source: New York Times

In many developing countries, where bank branches and A.T.M.?s are few or nonexistent in rural areas, cellphones may finally make financial services practical such places, fitting in the palm of one?s hand. Mobile devices have the potential to take financial markets outside urban areas, allowing banks to provide services like loans and savings accounts in rural regions, according to a report by Vodafone and Nokia, published last week. Microfinance institutions provide small...
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Wednesday, July 4, 2007 — No Region Specified

Aneel Karnani: A 'Poor' Market

Source: Business Standard

In PPP terms, the market at the bottom of the pyramid is $1.42 trillion, a far cry from the $13 trillion estimated by others. A movement that emphasises free markets to reduce poverty has grown strong in recent years, and has caught the attention of executives, academics and public officials. C K Prahalad argues in his popular book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, that selling to the poor people at the 'bottom of the pyramid' (BOP) can simultaneously be profitable a...
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Monday, July 2, 2007 — No Region Specified

Intel Inside the Third World

Source: BusinessWeek

A marginal player in cellular markets, Intel must find a way to sell to the next billion, industry lingo for consumers in the developing world who don't yet have easy access to the Internet. The education market?and products such as the Classmate?presents a major opportunity, says Martin Gilliland, Asia-Pacific research director for Gartner Inc. (IT ), because even if Intel's margins on such devices are razor-thin, volumes could soar into the hundreds of millions. Intel could...
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