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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, June 30, 2009 — South Asia

India?s New Retailers

Source: Outlook Business

I n a dry and dusty fair in Osmanabad, a small town tucked away in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, a thousand women have just spoken. Their verdict is loud and clear. CANDY RED. Consumer durables firm Godrej & Boyce is parading several colours of its new breakthrough product, ChotuKool, a nano refrigerator. A few fluorescent colours come first. The women vote this out with a cacophonous show of hands. They know what they want. Candy Red. ...
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009 — South Asia

Fund houses target the bottom of the pyramid

Source: Business Standard

Savita Devi, a daily wage earner in Gujarat, is saving for her future through a mutual fund. And she has company. Around 150,000 small investors are putting Rs 50-200 per month in UTI Asset Management Company’s (AMC’s) Micro Pension Plan. UTI AMC is not the only fund house targeting the bottom-of-the-pyramid investors to extend its presence. SBI Mutual Fund, an affiliate of State Bank of India (SBI), also launched a ‘Chota Systematic Investment Plan (SIP)’ in Apr...
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Grameen Foundation and Google create mobile apps for Africa

Source: The Seattle Times

Posted by Kristi Heim Real time information about farming, health and trading will be available to mobile phone users in Uganda with new technology services developed by the Grameen Foundation, Google and telecom operator MTN Uganda. The Grameen Foundation saw the proliferation of mobile phones in Africa as a way to get ...
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Monday, June 29, 2009 — South Asia

India needs a brilliant wave of entrepreneurs

Source: The Economic Times

MUMBAI NEW DELHI: Zeus, for once, was thwarted as the driving rain and rolling thunder failed to dampen the cheery mood at the concluding chapter of The Power of Ideas programme in Mumbai. The Times of India building was the venue for the interaction between shortlisted candidates and investors from the Indian Angel Network (IAN), VCs and incubators. There was a flurry of activity as entrepreneurs and ...
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Monday, June 29, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The missing middle to drive sustainable growth

Source: This is Africa

Just imagine how different the world would be if, back in Microsoft’s earliest days, Bill Gates had been unable to find anyone to invest in him or if a decade ago the same had happened to Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page as they tried to get the business going from the garage of a suburban home in California. Entrepreneurs the world over who try to start up and grow businesses face the problem of lack of access to finance. Often, they also experience an equ...
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Monday, June 29, 2009 — Latin America

Bolivian Microfinance

Source: RGE Monitor

Bolivia has been the success story in microfinance in Latin America in the last twenty years. I decided to spend one week in La Paz to better understand the business model of the Bolivian microfinance institutions. During the six day stay in La Paz I had the privilege of meeting the Executive Director of Bolivia’s Financial Services Supervisory Authority (ASFI) Ernesto Rivero, the former President of Bancosol and Prodem Fernando Romero Moreno, the President of the Bolivian Academy of Ec...
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Monday, June 29, 2009 — South Asia

Safe, comfy and chatting away - women?s empowerment at PCO booths

Source: Thaindian News

New Delhi, June 28 (IANS) Anjali Kher, 33, a small-time designer from Srinagar, keeps in touch with her family in the Kashmir Valley from the public telephone booth next to her home in Delhi. “The booth remains open till midnight and I drop in almost every day after work to call my father and my brothers,” Kher, who lives in Mayur Vihar, told IANS. The public telephone - including the PCO (public call office) phone booths with STD facilities - in India has become a too...
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Monday, June 29, 2009 — South Asia

Expat Bangladeshis spend more calling home than others: survey

Source: bdnews24.com

Dhaka, 28 June (bdnews24.com)—Expatriate Bangladeshis called home more frequently than their Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan and Filipino counterparts, spending $48 a month to stay in touch, a survey says. The survey '"Teleuse at the bottom of the pyramid", conducted by LIRNEasia, a regional ICT policy research institute, found 87 percent of Bangladeshi migrants called home at least once a week, while 34 percent called home daily. Dr Rohan Samarejiva, chairma...
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Friday, June 26, 2009 — No Region Specified

Bottom-of-pyramid poised to leapfrog with mobile wallet

Source: The Economic Times

Empowerment of the bottom-of-the-pyramid never looked so feasible. A revolution is silently but forcefully sweeping the developing countries, that could soon equip every single person with a mobile wallet and provide them with not just digital payment facilities but huge savings as well. The trend in mobile wallet usage has shown such vigour in countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Pakistan, not to mention Asian leaders in that domain, Japan and South Korea, t...
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Thursday, June 25, 2009 — No Region Specified

Lending Talent, and Money, on a Micro Scale

Source: The New York Times

Government agencies and international aid groups have long supported programs that train the world’s poor in how to start and run their own businesses. The training is seen as a way to end hunger and stabilize societies. But interest in these programs has grown lately with the wider availability of microloans, or very small enterprise loans made to the poor. As with any start-up, these businesses are more likely to survive, advocates say, if the owners have basic operational skill...
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009 — No Region Specified

Markets with a social mission

Source: Ode Magazine

By now, doctors and developmental therapists know plenty about how to treat children with cerebral palsy. But all that knowledge doesn’t matter if there’s no one to pass it along, as is often the case in rural hospitals in South Africa. So four years ago, a team of volunteer neurodevelopmental therapists traveled to Malamulele, in northern South Africa, and set up the non-profit organization Malamulele Onward to train the hospital’s rehabilitation staff. Since tha...
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009 — No Region Specified

Unitus expands in Africa as Indian partner mulls IPO

Source: The Seattle Times

Posted by Kristi Heim Unitus, a Seattle non-profit supporting microfinance around the world, is entering a new phase as it expands into northern India and Africa, and its social enterprise investment arm builds a second equity fund of at least $70 million, almost triple the size of its first fund. From its new location on the fifth floor of a Queen Anne building, Unitus President Ed Bland talked about the group's progress to help small microfinance organizations grow...
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Friday, June 19, 2009 — South Asia

Street vendors to be rechristened as micro-entrepreneurs

Source: Business Standard

They may be selling bananas, paav bhaji, cosmetics, cigarettes or just about anything else either on a push-cart going round streets or simply by standing on the roadside and now these street vendors are all set to get a new designation — micro-entrepreneurs. The National Policy on Urban Street Vendors, 2009, approved by the UPA government, recognises street vendors (or micro-entrepreneurs) as an integral and legitimate part of the urban retail...
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Friday, June 19, 2009 — No Region Specified

Banking Lessons from the Campaign Trail

Source: The Wall Street Journal

By MEERA SANYAL The journey from banker to politician and back has been a rewarding one. Everything, from mapping out the strategy, putting together the team and the actual campaigning, was an inspiring and humbling experience. We struck a different path from the start. My team and I decided to eschew the decorated chariots and buses (called rathyatras) adopted by our opponents and instead opted for a campaign on foot (popularly known as padyatras). This put us right into the...
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Friday, June 19, 2009 — No Region Specified

Hal Sirkin: Commodities And The 'Next Billion Customers'

Source: iStockAnalyst.com

What is the end result of globalization? A new era of international hypercompetition - and sky-high commodities prices - called "globality," says Harold (Hal) L. Sirkin, co-author of 2008's "Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything." Sirkin, senior partner of the Boston Consulting Group 's Chicago office, has written about globality's impact on businesses and the markets for BusinessWeek, H...
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Friday, June 19, 2009 — South Asia

Why Companies See Bright Prospects in Rural India

Source: Knowledge@Wharton

In late May, when India's GDP numbers were released, many were happily surprised. In the fourth quarter of the fiscal year (January-March 2009), the economy grew 5.8% against expectations of less than 5%. For the year, growth was 6.7%, less than the 9% recorded in 2007-2008, but still very respectable during a global downturn. Multinational banks and brokerage houses rushed back to their spreadsheets to raise their growth forecasts for 2009-2010. But why were the estimates so pessim...
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Thursday, June 18, 2009 — Asia Pacific

Business groups to lend money to SMEs through microfinancing

Source: The Phillippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Businessmen have committed to helping Filipinos affected by the global economic crunch by lending money for capital to small scale entrepreneurs through microfinance activities. “We have pushed corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the corporate sector for many years from the conferences that we have organized. We have seen CSR evolve as a practice and a responsibility in each corporation’s CSR strategy,” Marilou Erni, League of Corporate...
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Thursday, June 18, 2009 — South Asia

India Inc for PPP to better quality of education

Source: Hindustan TImes

The education industry is looking at an increased public-private partnership (PPP) in educational and training initiatives for matching skill-set demands of the industry with the available talent. Education is among a few sectors that has been insulated from the impact of a global economic slowdown but faces a huge challenge of reducing the gap of educated yet unemployable talent. “We would like to see more investment in PPP programmes to improve education quality at the bottom of...
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009 — South Asia

The Nano Home: India's Cheap Housing Boom

Source: The Economist

Indian property developers cater to the masses with low-cost housing LAST month ten-year-old Azharuddin Ismail was woken in the middle of the night by the sound of bulldozers. As policemen beat him with a bamboo stick to shoo him and his family away, his home in Mumbai's slums was swiftly demolished. Azhar, a celebrity since appearing in the film "Slumdog Millionaire", has since been given a new home by the filmmakers. But other residents were not so fortunate. India's c...
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009 — No Region Specified

LeapFrog Raises $44 Million for World's First Microinsurance Fund

Source: Fox Business

LUXEMBOURG, June 16, 2009 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ ----In a breakthrough for microfinance and alternative investment, the LeapFrog Financial Inclusion Fund announced today that it has raised US$44 million. It is the world's first investment fund focused on microinsurance. The fund aims to invest in businesses that will bring insurance and financial services to 25 million low-income people in Africa and Asia. The capital was raised from a diverse set of public and private investors ar...
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009 — North Africa and Near East

Citadel eyeing slice of $2.3trn market

Source: Business 24/7

With the global economy turning on its head in the past year, private sector investors have the unprecedented opportunity to participate in a rapidly growing consumer market comprising the world's 3.7 billion limited-income earners. "The billions of individuals who claim the smallest pool of the world's wealth represent, collectively, a rapidly-growing consumer market, an underutilised productive sector, and vast entrepreneurial energy," said Hisham El Khazindar, Co-Founde...
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Monday, June 15, 2009 — No Region Specified

Mobile money to poor seen $5 billion market in 2012

Source: Reuters

By Tarmo Virki , EMEA technology correspondent HELSINKI (Reuters) - The market of mobile financial services to poor people in emerging markets will surge from nothing to $5 billion in 2012, U.S.-based microfinance policy and research center CGAP said on Monday. Mobile money is one of the hottest topics in the wireless world, but so far take-up of services has been mostly limited to a few emerg...
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Monday, June 15, 2009 — No Region Specified

Bull Market in Social Entrepreneurs

Source: Business Week

For graduating students at Stanford University, it's all too clear that the economy's in the tank. The venture capital industry, with its epicenter just down the road, is stalled. The unemployment rate in Santa Clara County has doubled in the past year, to 10.9%, as employers across techdom eliminate jobs and scale back expansion plans. Career fairs, students say, feature lots of recruiters handing out business cards, but few jobs. A host of seniors who in past years would have ...
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Monday, June 15, 2009 — No Region Specified

Legatum Center at MIT awards 2009 seed grants to 8 teams

Source:

(Media-Newswire.com) - The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT has awarded summer seed grants to eight teams of students from across the Institute, giving them the necessary means to bolster innovative solutions to development challenges in low-income countries. Of the 20-plus proposals received, the Legatum Center awarded funding for projects in China, Guyana, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Peru and Tanzania. Teams will use the grants to conduct market research, p...
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Monday, June 15, 2009 — Latin America

Waste disposal in Colombia: Muck and brass plates

Source: The Economist

Entrepreneurs, not scavengers FOR more than 20 years Carmen Lasso has scrabbled a living of sorts for herself and her eight children by scavenging at a rubbish dump in Cali, Colombia’s third-largest city. Her life has brought the occasional pleasant surprise, such as the silver ring crowned with a tiny light-blue stone that she ...
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Thursday, June 11, 2009 — North Africa and Near East

Bottom line for Palestinian entrepreneurs: Reinvent the economy

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Ramallah, West Bank - Under pressure from visiting US Mideast envoy George Mitchell, Israeli cabinet ministers mulled easing a siege on the Gaza Strip that was designed to weaken Hamas. Amid US-Israeli disagreement over the Gaza blockade, West Bank settlements, and other issues involved in restarting the peace process, there is one point both sides agree on: The promises to boost the Palestinian economy during the recent round of talks stretching the final ...
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Thursday, June 11, 2009 — No Region Specified

New P&G leader to streamline, seek growth overseas

Source: The Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — New Procter & Gamble Co. chief Bob McDonald sees a brighter future for the 172-year-old company through selling more diapers, detergent and shampoo in places like India and Africa. With ambitious plans to double sales and streamline the world's largest consumer products company, whose sales and earnings growth have slowed during the recession, McDonald is to move from chief operating officer to CEO in three weeks. "We're going to focus even more...
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Thursday, June 11, 2009 — No Region Specified

It?s an ill wind ...

Source: Financial Times

By SARAH MURRAY function floatContent(){var paraNum = "3" paraNum = paraNum - 1;var tb = document.getElementById('floating-con');var nl = document.getElementById('floating-target');if(tb.getElementsByTagName("div").length> 0){if (nl.getElementsByTagName("p").length>= paraNum){nl.insertBefore(tb,nl.getElementsByTagName("p")[paraNum]);}else {if (nl.getElementsByTagName("p").length == 3){nl.insertBefore(tb,nl.getElementsByTagName("p")[2]...
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Thursday, June 11, 2009 — South Asia

The Infomercial Comes to Life in India's Remotest Villages

Source: The Wall Street Journal

By ERIC BELLMAN BENIPUR VILLAGE, India -- Advertisers in India can't rely on TV, radio or even newspapers to reach the country's 700 million rural consumers. So they use Sandeep Sharma. On dirt roads across the subcontinent, the former wedding singer cracks jokes, gives demonstrations and stages game shows to spread global consumerism, one village at a time. He is one of thousands of traveling performers who bring the world's biggest brands to audiences of a hand...
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009 — North Africa and Near East

World's 3.7 billion limited-income earners represent rapidly-growing consumer market

Source: Eye of Dubai

Private-sector leaders in the world’s emerging markets have compelling opportunities to invest in businesses that improve life for large swaths of the population, said Hisham El-Khazindar, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Citadel Capital, the Middle East and North Africa’s leading private equity firm . El Khazindar was addressing high profile Arab businessmen and decision makers at a Harvard University Arab Alumni Association panel that discussed subjects relat...
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009 — No Region Specified

CSR initiatives need not suffer during crisis

Source: Business Mirror

The present global financial crisis has sent a message of alarm to beneficiaries of big companies giving funds for initiatives in community education, environment and entrepreneurship. As the hard times directly or indirectly hit the businesses’ bottom line—actions that may increase/decrease net earnings or company’s overall profit—the chances of drawing funds to sustain these initiatives could subsequently be affected.
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Friday, June 05, 2009 — Asia Pacific

Australian group seeks BoP business opportunities

Source: The Age

A T THE tail end of a business conference in the pretty Papua New Guinean coastal town of Madang late last month, a posse of high-powered Australian suits slipped into tropical mufti, climbed aboard a charter plane and flew deep into the wilds of the Southern Highlands interior. Dropping into remote villages over three days, they visited markets and surveyed crops, talked to tribal elders and field workers. They asked lots of questions about how people were making a livi...
Friday, June 05, 2009 — No Region Specified

Microcredit loans used to buy food

Source: Financial Times

Fewer than half of microcredit borrowers invest the money in the grassroots businesses that such loans are intended to foster, new research into poverty alleviation has discovered. But the claim is disputed by some microlenders, including ASA of Bangladesh, winner of the Banking at the Bottom of the Pyramid category in last year's FT Sustainable Banking Awards. Microcredit was devised in the 1970s in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank to lend small sums...
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Thursday, June 04, 2009 — No Region Specified

Al Gore: Oil "Junkie" America Needs Third World Help

Source: Fast Company

The former Vice President, clean-shaven in a dark suit and black cowboy boots, pauses. "Junkies find veins in their toes, when the veins in their arms and legs collapse," he says to Charlie Rose. The audience suffers an uncomfortable pause, and then laughs. Gore keeps a straight face. He isn't joking. This is the closing panel of the Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Enterprise , held on New York&...
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Thursday, June 04, 2009 — Latin America

Banco Real: Brazilian lender focuses on both profit and growth

Source: Financial Times

Jeronimo Ramos, a director at Banco Real in São Paulo, sounds like a man with a mission. “You have to operate inside local communities. You have to know your customer’s story at first hand. Because by giving people credit, you are creating well-being. About 70 per cent of people that get credit are lifted out of poverty as a result.” Yet as Mr Ramos insists, Banco Real is not in the business of delivering social services. “We are not a philanthropic organi...
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