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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, April 29, 2008 — No Region Specified

Virtue?s Reward? Companies Make The Business Case for Ethical Initiatives

Source: Financial Times

By Michael Skapinker In Unilever 's London headquarters, Gavin Neath, the consumer goods group's head of sustainability, takes a plastic contraption out of its cardboard box and places it on a table. It looks like a small and semi-transparent version of the vending machines that dispense drinks to office workers. The device is called a Pureit - and it is a d...
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008 — No Region Specified

University of Michigan Students Win Top Honors at Wal-Mart's Better Living Business Plan Challenge

Source: Walmart News Room

Students representing the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment won Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.'s first Better Living Business Plan Challenge. Wal-Mart developed the competition to provide business students from around the world an opportunity to invent sustainable products or business solutions. On Friday, April 18, student teams from eight colleges and universities presented their business plans to a panel of executives from Wal-...
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008 — No Region Specified

Even the Poorest Can Be a Thriving Market

Source: Harvard Business Review

By Jean-Louis Warnholz The idea that global companies can do good and do well at the ?bottom of the pyramid??that is, among the poor populations of developing countries?has generated excitement among corporations, governments, and NGOs in recent years. But most of the resulting initiatives by multinationals have missed the very poor, the 2 billion people in places like Haiti and Bangladesh who live on less than two dollars a day and have been virtually ignored by the ...
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008 — No Region Specified

Small Farmers, Bigger Markets

Source: Ode Magazine

By Jay Walljasper Poverty is often regarded as a matter of political policy and economic aid. But for ?Thomas George, who grew up on a farm in India where his family struggled to make ends meet, it's a simple question of agriculture. The vast majority of the world's poor live on the land, so how do we make farming more profitable for them? A farmer can produce a lot of wonderful tomatoes but that's no good if there isn't a demand for t...
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Monday, April 28, 2008 — No Region Specified

Omidyar Network and Unitus to Help Millions of the Working Poor Participate in the Global Economy

Source: Unitus

Omidyar Network and Unitus are pleased to announce plans to dramatically expand the worldwide availability of financial services to the poor. Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm established by Pierre and Pam Omidyar, will invest $9 million in Unitus. This will represent Omidyar Network's largest grant in microfinance to date. Unitus, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating access to microfinance, will use this support to increase its network of microfin...
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Friday, April 25, 2008 — No Region Specified

Una Laptop por Ni?o

Source: Technology Review

The success of OLPC can no longer be judged against ?Negroponte's early predictions and plans, nor by the technical merits of the laptop itself. Peru is what matters now. When I was in Lima, OLPC's former chief technology officer, Mary Lou ?Jepsen (she has formed Pixel Qi, a startup dedicated to making even lower-cost displays for OLPC's computers and others), visited the education ministry to offer help and show staffers how to repair the machines. But she acknowledged that OLPC&...
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Thursday, April 24, 2008 — No Region Specified

Paul Polak, Tackling Global Poverty His Own Way

Source: NPR

Interview?from Fresh Air from WHYY on April 23, 2008 Paul Polak, founder of the nonprofit International Development Enterprises, has spent 25 years working to eradicate poverty in Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and other countries in the developing world. His perhaps-surprising conclusion: Government subsidies for the rural poor often make things worse. Instead, Polak teaches families and farmers - many of whom live on a dollar a d...
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Thursday, April 24, 2008 — No Region Specified

Creator of Low-cost Pumps for African Farmers Wins MIT Prize

Source: The Boston Globe

A San Francisco man who is credited with changing the lives of thousands of farmers in Africa with his irrigation pumps has won the $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability. Martin Fisher is co-founder and chief executive of the San Francisco-based non-profit KickStart, which has developed and marketed low-cost, human-powered pumps that allow farmers to boost the productivity of their land -- and increase their earnings. Rather than simply giving the pumps away, Ki...
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 — No Region Specified

GE: Reinventing Tech for the Emerging World

Source: Business Week

By Jena McGregor How GE Healthcare engineers combined technology and creativity to develop the MAC 400, a portable ECG machine suitable for the Indian market GE Healthcare engineer Davy Hwang's marching orders were straightforward. Take a 15-lb. electrocardiograph machine that cost $5.4 million and took three and a half years to develop. Squeeze the same technology into a portable device...
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Monday, April 21, 2008 — No Region Specified

Root Capital Helps Grass-Roots Eco-Ventures

Source:

By Jim Wyss In South Florida a few months ago to attend an award ceremony for the Ashoka social entrepreneurship foundation, William Foote, a former Miamian, talked about Root Capital -- the nonprofit he founded in 2000 to finance environmentally sustainable businesses in the developing world. Based in Cambridge, Mass., Root Capital targets grass-roots ventures, such as organic coffee and cocoa cooperatives, that are too large to benefit from micro-loans...
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Monday, April 21, 2008 — No Region Specified

Food and the Poor: The New Face of Hunger

Source: The Economist

From The Economist Print Edition Samake Bakary sells rice from wooden basins at Abobote market in the northern suburbs of Abidjan in C?te d'Ivoire. He points to a bowl of broken Thai rice which, at 400 CFA francs (roughly $1) per kilogram, is the most popular variety. On a good day he used to sell 150 kilos. Now he is lucky to sell half that. People ask the price and go away without buying anything, he complains. In early April they went away and ri...
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Friday, April 18, 2008 — No Region Specified

Social business ? The bigger, the better

Source: Ethical Corporation

Responsible companies can learn a lot from social entrepreneurs about selling to the poor, but first they must understand how their core business contributes to social and economic development. Big companies coming to the field of social entrepreneurship for the first time could be forgiven for feeling a little lost. While the term social entrepreneur has been around for about 30 years, few can agree on what it means. Add social business and &q...
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Thursday, April 17, 2008 — No Region Specified

Airtime as Remittance: Good Deal for the Poor?

Source: CGAP Technology Program Blog

By Mark Pickens The New York Times recently highlighted the work of Jan Chipchase, a Nokia researcher trying to understand how the poor use mobile phones. The article includes a report that Ugandans are using prepaid airtime as an informal money transfer mechanism, particularly to get value back to family in rural areas. Ugandan...
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008 — No Region Specified

Food Shortages: Think Big

Source: Times Online

By Paul Collier If we're going to solve this global problem, we need more globalisation and less sentimentality The world price of staple foods has rocketed, almost doubling in the past 18 months. For consumers in the rich world this massive increase in the price of wheat or rice is an inconvenience; for consumers in the poorest countries it is a catastrophe. Food accounts for around half of the entire budget of most Africans. Of...
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Monday, April 14, 2008 — No Region Specified

Small-scale Dairy Producers

Source: The Post

By Joan Chirwa Dairy farming is one of the most rewarding agri-businesses which can help reduce poverty in rural areas, says Rebecca Mumba, a retired journalist. An industry largely driven by small-holder farmers located in different parts of the country, the dairy sector has recorded numerous improvements over the years, with the small-scale producers accounting for the largest milk production figures on an annual basis. According to rec...
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Monday, April 14, 2008 — No Region Specified

Food Inflation, Riots Spark Worries for World Leaders

Source: The Wall Street Journal

By Bob Davis and Douglas Belkin WASHINGTON -- Finance ministers gathered this weekend to grapple with the global financial crisis also struggled with a problem that has plagued the world periodically since before the time of the Pharaohs: food shortages.Surging commodity prices have pushed up global food prices 83% in the past three years, according to the World Bank -- putting huge stress on some of the world's poorest nations. Even as the ministers met, Haiti...
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Friday, April 11, 2008 — No Region Specified

Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?

Source: New York Times

Last year, the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental research group, published a report with the International Finance Corporation entitled The Next Four Billion, an economic study that looked at, among other things, how poor people living in developing countries spent their money. One of the most remarkable findings was that even very poor families invested a significant amount of money in the I.C.T. category - information-communication technology, which, ac...
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Friday, April 11, 2008 — No Region Specified

Social innovation: Good for you, good for me

Source: Ethical Corporation

Big firms are joining the queue to follow in Muhammad Yunus's footsteps by developing businesses designed to fix social ills. Muhammad Yunus has for more than 30 years challenged business leaders to find radical ways of creating new markets in poor countries. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's latest book, Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism, is no less ambitious. It explores how big companies can invest in external partners ...
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Thursday, April 10, 2008 — No Region Specified

Microfinance: Climate change connections

Source: Development Outreach

In 2001, the IPCC concluded that the impacts of climate change will fall disproportionately upon developing countries and the poor persons within all countries. The poor are least able to cope on their own with the threats to their homes, communities, livelihoods and health. What role might microfinance-the delivery of financial services, including credit, savings, and insurance to the poor-play in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and helping vulnerable low-income populations...
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Thursday, April 10, 2008 — Sub-Saharan Africa

How Africa's top entrepreneurs can find the path to global markets

Source: Business Report

Swaziland alone has 70 000 such micro enterprises. Why is this the case? Money? That's usually what an SME owner will say. Indeed, SMEs needs capital to start up and expand. In developed economies, most start-ups are self-financed with help from the four Fs: founders, family, friends and foolhardy strangers. In Africa this strategy is possible only for a lucky few. For unproven entrepreneurs, or those lacking adequate collateral, capital can be very hard to come by...
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008 — No Region Specified

Alianza WBCSD-SNV Present? su Trabajo en Negocios Inclusivos en el Marco de la Reuni?n Anual del B

Source: Inclusivebusiness.org

Publicado por WBCSD-SNV Alliance Ministros de finanzas, empresarios, banqueros, dirigentes de la sociedad civil, acad?micos, periodistas y destacados artistas latinoamericanos y caribe?os participaron en la reuni?n anual del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), que en esta ocasi?n se celebr? en Miami del 4 al 8 de abril. La Reuni?n Anual en Miami ofreci? una ...
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008 — No Region Specified

The Crushing Burden of Microcredit

Source: France 24

By FRANCE 24 Microcredit changed Shobi Rani's life. An impoverished yoghurt seller, Rani travels across her region in northern Bangladesh on a cycle rickshaw, selling her dairy produce. She is a beneficiary of microcredit, the much touted development scheme to help eradicate poverty. Three months ago, Rani received a loan for 500 euros from the Grameen Bank to start her little dairy enterprise. Every week, a bank official carefully chec...
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Monday, April 07, 2008 — No Region Specified

Your $25 can Start a Business, Change a Life

Source: CNN Features Kiva and Microplace

By Jen Haley Lovisa Asinde is a Ugandan widow who supports herself and her five children selling food. She started the small business eight years ago, and planned to open a larger restaurant in the center of her town. But when one of her children fell ill she was unable to work, and she lacked the $500 needed to buy saucepans, plates and food staples. So, strange as it may seem, Asinde went looking for international investors. She found s...
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Monday, April 07, 2008 — No Region Specified

Design for the Next Billion Customers

Source: Core77

Niti Bhan and Dave Tait, having just returned from exploratory research in Africa to understand the mindset and consumer behavior at the bottom of the pyramid, share their insights for designers hoping to serve this population. This research was part of a larger study conducted by Experientia, an Italy-based international experience design consultancy. Design has a social function and its true purpose is to improve people's lives. --Nokia Design Manifesto
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Monday, April 07, 2008 — No Region Specified

Microfinance?s Success Sets Off a Debate in Mexico

Source: The New York Times

By Elizabeth Malkin VILLA DE V?ZQUEZ, Mexico - Carlos Danel and Carlos Labarthe turned a nonprofit that lent money to Mexico's poor into one of the country's most profitable banks. But not all of their colleagues in the world of microlending - so named for the tiny loans it grants - are heaping praise on the co-executives of Compartamos. Some are vilifying them as pawnbrokers and money lenders. They are the ce...
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Saturday, April 05, 2008 — No Region Specified

Acumen Fund's Big Ambition

Source: Red Herring

By Joel Dreyfuss The Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture fund with a mission, celebrated its seventh anniversary this week. A relative newcomer to the world of philanthropy, Acumen has drawn a lot of attention for its entrepreneurial approach to doing good: investing in new companies in developing countries that use technology to make a difference in the lives the people at the bottom of the pyramid. Acumen?s web site (www.acumenfund.org) bluntly decla...
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Friday, April 04, 2008 — No Region Specified

Reuters Ploughs into Indian Farming

Source: Times Online

PUNE, India, is one of the world's most techie cities. Wireless internet pumps out across the city, students from its top-ranked universities jam the streets on motorbikes and on graduation vie for jobs at many of the West's biggest high-tech companies. The city is a model of the tech-led renaissance of the subconti-nent's economy - and is also, as chance would have it, home to Tata Motors, the new owner of Jaguar and Land Rover, two of Britain's most famous car comp...
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Friday, April 04, 2008 — No Region Specified

Nokia Reaps Benefits of Emerging Markets

Source: Financial Times

By Andrew Parker Nokia said on Wednesday it had seen no evidence that the global economic downturn was affecting demand for mobile phones in emerging markets, as it outlined plans for new handsets for developing countries. Alex Lambeek, a Nokia vice-president responsible for the Finnish company's strategy in emerging markets, said 2008 should be the first year in which the number of handsets sold in developing countries to customers replacing their ex...
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Friday, April 04, 2008 — No Region Specified

A Costly Thirst

Source: Financial Times

By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent Slum-dwellers in Dar es Salaam pay the equivalent of ?4 ($8, ?5) for 1,000 litres of water, bought over time and by the canister. In the same Tanzanian city, wealthier households connected to the municipal supply receive that amount for just 17p. In the UK, the same volume of tap water costs 81p and in the US it is as low as 34p. Figures from other countries confirm the evidence: it is generally the poorest who pa...
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Friday, April 04, 2008 — No Region Specified

Productizing Remittances

Source: Migrant Remittances

Can remittances be more than simply cash-to-cash funds transfers? Indeed, the ?productizing of remittances? is an approach that looks at the value chain of money ?ows to identify situations where the desired ?nal output is not cash but the acquisition of tangible products or services. It is a product development and delivery process in which remittances are directly turned into the value for which the money is intended. The bene?t of this approach is its greater economic impact com...
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Thursday, April 03, 2008 — No Region Specified

Muhammad Yunus on Tech, Profit and the Poor

Source: Fortune Magazine

The Bangladeshi Nobel laureate wins yet another award - this time for contributions to technology. He talks to Fortune about where tech might take the poor. NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Technology is making more changes in our way of life than ever in human history, says Muhammad Yunus. The way the Internet and the mobile phone are spreading, you cannot compare with any technology of the past. Yunus is known for his visionary leadership in microfinance and he...
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Thursday, April 03, 2008 — No Region Specified

Partnership Workshops Confirm New Opportunities for Social Entrepreneurs & Business

Source: International Business Leaders Forum

Businesses and social enterprises are increasingly realising the mutual benefits and new opportunities from working together, IBLF has concluded after co-hosting workshops at last week's World Skoll Forum. IBLF, UK consultancy SustainAbility and design company IDEO hosted two workshops on Strategic Partnerships Between Multinational Corporations and Social Entrepreneurs ...
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Thursday, April 03, 2008 — No Region Specified

The Clean Energy Scam

Source: Time Magazine

By Michael Grunwald From his Cessna a mile above the southern Amazon, John Carter looks down on the destruction of the world's greatest ecological jewel. He watches men converting rain forest into cattle pastures and soybean fields with bulldozers and chains. He sees fires wiping out such gigantic swaths of jungle that scientists now debate the savannization of the Amazon. Brazil just announced that deforestation is on track to double this year; Carter, a T...
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008 — No Region Specified

Wiring Money Turns Wireless in New Plan

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Western Union Co., hoping to boost its share of the money-transfer market, is teaming up with ...
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008 — No Region Specified

Nobel Laureate Yunus Unveils Bangladesh Clean Water Deal

Source: World Business Council for Sustainable Development (AFP)

AFP, 31 March 2008 - Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus on Monday unveiled a deal between his pioneering Grameen bank and French group Veolia Environment to provide clean water to poor rural communities in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi economist also sought support from President Nicolas Sarkozy for creating more microcredit schemes to fight poverty, particularly in Africa. I wanted to make him understand how effective a tool microcredit is in helping the poor people...
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008 — No Region Specified

Inclusive Business in Latin America

Source: Latin Business Chronicle

Growing up in Calcutta (now Kolkata) I saw poverty first hand, so I naturally admired my father's commitment to implementing social justice to helping the poor citizens. Dad's opposition to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's economic and social policies landed him in jail during India's Emergency rule in 1975. I moved to the United States in 1984 and experienced the benefits of capitalism. I watched with excitement India's move to globalization and hoped that this also ...
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Tuesday, April 01, 2008 — No Region Specified

Social Entrepreneurs Seek New Investments to Reach a 'Tipping Point'

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy

On Oxford University's 900-year-old campus, the new field of social entrepreneurship - which blends business techniques and social goals - this week grappled with its need for more money to finance growth. Nonprofit leaders, scholars, business people, and policy makers from 40 countries gathered at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School here. There's still a shortage of funds, and the funds that are there are still ver...
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Tuesday, April 01, 2008 — No Region Specified

Development Thrills Of Microfinance

Source: The Guardian

Microfinance is often considered as one of the most effective and flexible strategies in the fight against global poverty. It is sustainable and can be implemented on a massive scale necessary to respond to the urgent needs of those living on less than N120 ($1) a day, i.e, the world's poorest. If we close our eyes to the cities for a while and go back to the villages and rural areas, the effect of poverty and the developmental roles of microfinance can be felt in its fullest ...
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Tuesday, April 01, 2008 — No Region Specified

Designing New Technologies for a Better Life

Source: World Ark Online

By Lauren Wi lcox World Ark Contributor In 1985, a young mechanical engineer named Martin Fisher traveled to Kenya on a Fulbright scholarship. Fisher planned to stay for a few months, putting his degree to meaningful use working on projects for the rural poor, but he soon found himself absorbed in the world of international development. Months turned into years as Fisher worked on rural water projects with communal wells, helped wo...
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