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, December 28, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Cash Alone Won?t Make Microfinance Work

Source: PlusNews East Africa

NAIROBI/TRANSMARA, Kenya – Two years ago, fed up with a husband who drank too much and provided too little, Julie Amunga, who lives in the sprawling Mathare slum in the capital, Nairobi, decided to start a business that would enable her to support her family. “My friends and I all had husbands who drank too much and beat us at home and yet they were not providing anything for the home,” she told IRIN/PlusNews. “We would sleep with other men secretly to provide fo...
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Monday, December 28, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Tanzania: New Hope as Chicken Project Takes Off

Source: The Citizen

In the a quiet and laid-back Coastal Region, a pioneering new project involving poultry farming is giving ordinary people a chance to lift themselves out of poverty. Research Into Use (RIU) is a programme based in Dar es Salaam which aims at promoting innovations and utilisation of new knowledge and research output, to eradicate poverty. RIU has so far enabled a community in the Rufiji District to rear a hundreds of chicks each with the intent...
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Monday, December 28, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya: Solar Sector in Huge Growth as Buyers Stream In

Source: Business Daily

The slow penetration of electricity in Kenyan homes has opened a niche market for solar energy solutions. In the past few years, a number of entrepreneurs have joined the green business, mainly targeting low-income homes that have remained on the sidelines of electricity connections for decades. Less than 20 per cent of Kenya’s households are connected to the national grid, forcing them to rely on a mix of relatively costly, inefficient and unhealt...
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009 — South Asia

Say Goodbye to Kerosene Lamps, Here's Kiran!

Source: Rediff Business

Their mission is to bring light to millions of households that do not have access to electricity. Betting big on solar lighting products, Sam Goldman and his team have embarked on an enduring journey to remove darkness from the remotest corners of the world. Sam was moved by an unfortunate incident, while working as a US Peace Corps volunteer in the West African nation of Benin between 2001 and 2005, which led him to focus on this segment. "My neighbour's son ...
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009 — No Region Specified

Exploring Portable Method for Detecting Tuberculosis

Source: Everyday FC

FORT COLLINS – Engineering researchers at Colorado State University have found a new way to detect traces of tuberculosis bacteria in fluids that would allow for a more sensitive and accurate detection of the deadly disease. The research by Diego Krapf, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and a faculty member in the School of Biomedical Engineering, was recently recognized by the Optical Society of America for its potential use in developing countries that fa...
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Sierra Leone: New Processing Centres Raise Cassava's Outlook

Source: TradeInvest Africa

Cassava's profile as a food security and poverty-reducing crop got a boost with the commissioning of five new processing centres in Sierra Leone, thanks to the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute and other partners.
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Monday, December 21, 2009 — South Asia

As Microfinance Grows in India, So Do Its Rivals

Source: Wall Street Journal

By Ketaki Gokhale Mahabubnagar, India The practice of making tiny loans to poor people, or microfinance, was supposed to help drive traditional village moneylenders from rural India. Instead, traditional moneylenders, who typically charge high interest rates, are thriving, even in areas most heavily targeted by microfi...
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Monday, December 21, 2009 — South Asia

India Food Prices Climb 19.95%, the Most in 11 Years

Source: Bloomberg

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- India’s wholesale food prices rose at the fastest pace in eleven years, making it more likely that the central bank will raise borrowing costs to curb inflation. An index of food articles compiled by the commerce ministry increased 19.95 percent in the week ended Dec. 5 from a year earlier, following a 19.05 per...
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Monday, December 21, 2009 — South Asia

Manipal BOP Centre Receives Rs 60 Lakh for Research

Source: Express Buzz

The Manipal - Philips BoP (Base of Pyramid) Centre has been granted access to a fund of 90,000 Euros, thanks to the European Union sponsored Manipal Centre for European Studies that was launched a few days ago at Manipal University. BOP deals with designing technology that can help people who live at the base of the pyramid -- a strata that indicates their poverty-ridden lives.Some of the projects that have been developed under ...
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Monday, December 21, 2009 — South Asia

Hidden in Low-Cost Housing: Rs 13 Lakh Crore for Developers

Source: Indian Express

Even as large established developers shy away from the underserved affordable housing market in urban india, the shortage in the low-income housing segment — estimated to be around 2.1 crore households — presents a Rs 13 lakh crore opportunity for developers. Housing finance for the low-income segment, defined as those with a monthly household income between Rs 7,000 and Rs 24,000, has been categorised as ...
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Friday, December 18, 2009 — South Asia

State Bank of Pakistan: Microfinance Role Vital to Alleviate Poverty

Source: The Nation

KARACHI - Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Salim Raza on Saturday said that microfinance banks/institutions have a key role to play in creating economic opportunities for the poorest sections of the society by broadening their outreach. Delivering a keynote address on “ Economic Empowerment for the Base of the Pyramid “ at the Acumen Community Gathering here, Mr. Raza said that the regulatory role develops infrastructure of service delivery, cross fertilizes from resea...
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Friday, December 18, 2009 — South Asia

Microfinance: Treading a Fine Line Between Financial and Social Objectives

Source: Wall Street Journal India

According to the 2009 Microfinance India State of the Sector (MISS) Report, the microfinance industry's client outreach has grown by 30% over the last year to 76.6 million and the total outstanding loan portfolio has grown by a staggering 56% to INR 359 Billion over the same period. The growing integration of the sector with the capital markets has led to an influx of funds from various channels and has accelerated the transition of the Indian Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) into mainstr...
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Friday, December 18, 2009 — South Asia

Mudra Institute to Sow Power in Gujarat Farmers

Source: DNA India

Taking up an initiative to widen the scope of effective communication to the bottom of the pyramid of the Indian economy, the Mudra Institute of Communication Ahmedabad (MICA) has started conducting a research. The research called 'National Agricultural Innovation Project' (NAIP) is funded by the World Bank. Professor Arbind Sinha and co-principal investigator ...
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Friday, December 18, 2009 — No Region Specified

The Year in Innovation: "Trickling Up"

Source: BusinessWeek

In 2009 the world was no longer flat; much of it was flat broke. Deflated by slumping sales and income, companies roundly did what innovation consultants say they never should—they cut spending on research and development . The U.S. drug industry , historically ...
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Monday, December 14, 2009 — No Region Specified

Insurance Providers Get Support to Invest in Low Income Market


The ILO's Microinsurance Innovation Facility issued a call for grant proposals to encourage insurance providers to experiment with new products and develop strategic partnerships that will bring affordable insurance products to working poor in developing countries. To overcome the major challenges associated with health financing for low-income households, the Facility proposes a special emphasis on health microinsurance, but also welcomes applications for projects focusing on high-...
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Monday, December 14, 2009 — South Asia

Tatas Add More Punch to Mass Push

Source: Hindustan Times

“I am excited about Tata Swach because in my native village every house needs a water purifier as the water is contaminated,” says Dharmendra Jha, working in Patna. Jha’s aspiration is tied to the fortunes of the salt-to-software Tata Group, whose Tata Chemicals has priced at a market-beating Rs.749 the purifier that could make a dramatic difference in interior Bihar. “It is going to be a runaway success in rural Bihar as it won’t be consuming electri...
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Monday, December 14, 2009 — South Asia

Why Small Packs Make Sense for FMCG Co's

Source: Hindu Business Line

While C.K. Prahalad's seminal work, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, advocated a strategy to look at the lower end of the market, companies till recently did not tap into the low-unit price market segment with aggression. Asked why marketers did not look at a low unit price strategy earlier, Cadbury India's Managing Director, Mr Anand Kripalu, says that playing a low unit price game requires a change in manufacturing and mindset. It requires different kinds of machines,...
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Monday, December 14, 2009 — South Asia

Think Small, Gain Big

Source: Times of India

The bottom of the pyramid in India is where the next big growth story lies. And Indian companies are waking up to this fact. The latest low-cost offering of high-end durables targeted at households in small-town and rural India is a water purifier from the house of Tatas, which revolutionised the domestic automobile market by rolling out the Nano. The new water purifier blends indigenous and advanced technologies and is priced at below a thousand rupees. Other players in the water purifier bu...
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Monday, December 14, 2009 — No Region Specified

Meet Gordon Gekko's Grandchildren

Source: Wall Street Journal

What if we could take Wall Street's endless energy and innovation and turn it on the hunger and deprivation in the world? That's not a silly question. It's already being done. In the halls of finance and at America's top business schools, there's a small but growing movement to do more than just find the next dollar. Unlike efforts of the past, these bankers and business people aren't heading off on missions to dig wells and hand out sacks of rice. They'...
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Thursday, December 10, 2009 — South Asia

Solar Power's Role in Rural India

Source: BBC World Service

Mention solar panels and you might think of people in richer countries installing them, so they can reduce their carbon footprint. But there are good reasons for installing solar technology which are not to do with climate change. For example, in those places where there are no lights in the dark, and no hot water, such as in many parts of the countryside in India, where the electricity grid does not reach. Selco is a social...
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009 — South Asia

Banking Still Miles Away from Jalanga

Source: Business Standard

Saraswati Das, 32, walks 20 km whenever she has to carry out a banking transaction. The walks have become more frequent of late because membership of the self-help group (SHG) she heads has been growing. Das lives in Jalanga, a small village in Orissa's Bhadrak district. Government records show Jalanga in the list of areas with 100 per cent financial inclusion. She leads Sri Gobind Anchalika Sangha, a conglomerate of 32 SHGs based at Jalanga, which has a population of 3,360 an...
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009 — No Region Specified

Dutch Agency Funds E+Co With $6.6M Investment

Source: Press Release

FMO, the entrepreneurial development bank of the Netherlands, has created a clean energy investment facility to be managed by E+Co. FMO has set aside USD 6,650,000, funded by FMO's Access to Energy Fund. Funding also includes a capacity development facility for entrepreneurs in the amount of EUR 500,000. The FMO-E+Co agreement is the result of intensive cooperation over the last year and reflects both organizations' goals to create a sustainable market place for access to clean energy...
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009 — South Asia

Tata Launches Low Cost Water Filter

Source: Bangkok Post

India's giant Tata Group on Monday unveiled a new low-cost water purifier, hoping to do for health what it did for motoring and provide affordable, safe drinking water for millions and cut disease. The Tata Swach _ named after the Hindi for "clean'' _ is designed to be used in poor, rural households that have no electricity or running water, using ash from rice milling to filter out bacteria. The device, which will cost less than 1,000 rupees (21.5 dollars), ...
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Friday, December 4, 2009 — South Asia

MFIs Wary of Housing Loans over Default Fears

Source: LiveMint

Bangalore: Concerns of defaults are holding back microfinance institutions, or MFIs, from a full-fledged expansion into home loans even as they seek to turn their clientele of poor borrowers into consumers and compete with commercial banks. MFIs, established mainly to lend small sums to the unbanked poor to help them earn a living, say there's potentially a huge demand for home loans among their customers. At least two of seven prominent MFIs that Mint spoke to have started...
Thursday, December 3, 2009 — South Asia

Mahindra Could Roll Out India's Cheapest Tractor by 2010

Source: Wheels Unplugged

In its bid to cater to bottom-of-the-pyramid farmers in the country, Mahindra FES is looking to roll out India’s cheapest tractor by next year. If Bloomberg reports are to be any indication the new low cost product could be powered by a 15-hp engine and would be available at Rs. 150,000 (about 40 per cent cheaper than other entry-level ones). India’s largest tractormaker has indicated that it aims to clock 25,000 units of the proposed model in the next four years, citin...
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009 — Asia Pacific

Singapore Firm Eyes Profit in Cheap Toilet Market

Source: Associated Press

SINGAPORE (AP) - Christopher Ng has a dream: Help alleviate a major global health problem by bringing toilets to the world's poor — at a tidy profit. Ng, managing director at Singapore-based Rigel Technology, hopes to sell his state-of-the-art portable, fertilizer-making, toilets for as low as $30 beginning next year, tapping into a multibillion dollar market for proper sanitation in developing countries. It is among the exhibits at the annual World Toilet Summit in Sing...
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