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
Friday, July 31, 2009 — South Asia

From Chulhas to Defibrillators: Can Philips India Be All Things to All People?

Source: Knowledge @ Wharton

Philips India was once unchallenged in India's lighting and electronics arena. With more than 75 years in the country, the nearly wholly owned subsidiary of the Dutch multinational Royal Philips Electronics boasts impeccable parentage. But competition eroded its vaunted position, and today Philips has redefined itself as a "health and well-being company." "Through consumer insight, we understood that people perceive health and well-being as a combination of superior lifestyle and av...
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009 — South Asia

Low-cost housing in Mumbai: A market at the base of the pyramid?

Source: CSR Asia

Estimates suggest that India has a shortfall of more than 25 million low-cost or affordable houses. The result is sprawling slums that ring some of the country’s largest cities and a bewildering maze of tenement buildings in which three-generations-under-one-roof-families jostle for space and privacy in spaces of 150 square feet and above. As Supriya Menon said recently, they say it is easy to find everything in Mumbai except for a house ( BBC , 15 June). Just lik...
Monday, July 27, 2009 — No Region Specified

Research be Profit-Driven to Sustain: Bill Gates


Bill Gates while replying to a query on why Bell Labs' research had ceased said that research with profit motive needed to be encouraged so that it could be sustainable. Research where the government encourages a company in return for a quid pro quo in the form of a regulated environment for that company was not sustainable in the long run, said Gates. Gates identified Xerox as having done great innovation from which companies like Apple and others had later benefited. He ...
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Monday, July 27, 2009 — South Asia

Real Economic Development in Afghanistan

Source: Center for American Progress

A successful woman-run rug business has been operating for the last five years in Afghanistan. Arzu Rugs currently employs 600 people and provides direct economic support to almost four times that many. Arzu means “hope” in Dari. In addition to the well-paying jobs created by the rug-weaving work, the company funnels its profits back to the community in the form of medical care, education, and social services that touch the lives of an estimated 100,000 Afghans. Arzu was cre...
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Monday, July 27, 2009 — Latin America

Three noted businesswomen team up to help microentrepreneurs

Source: Business Mirror

The dynamic troika of Chit Juan, Jeannie Javelosa and Reena Francisco has given a new definition to social enterprise, which is a response to the current conditions. The Environment and Community Hope Organization—or Echo—Store is a business enterprise operating for a profit “but with a social cause,” said Juan, who heads the marketing component of Echo Store. Founded six months ago, the Echo Store has become the hub of product...
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009 — South Asia

World's Cheapest Car Hits Indian Streets

Source: Yahoo News

by Phil Hazlewood The world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano, hit the streets on Friday, as the first customer got the keys to a vehicle that its makers hope will transform travel for millions of Indians. Ashok Raghunath Vichare took delivery of a lunar silver Nano LX model, one of three cars handed over in person by Tata Motors boss Ratan Tata at a city dealership. The 59-year-old customs official from Mumbai said only that he was "very happy" to have got his hands...
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Monday, July 20, 2009 — No Region Specified

Drug Firms See Poorer Nations as Sales Cure

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Julio Rodriguez was on a sales call at a clinic in this slum overlooking Caracas recently when he heard four gunshots go off nearby. It was business as usual for Mr. Rodriguez. As a representative in Venezuela for U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., his sales route takes him through one of Latin America's most dangerous neighborhoods. To avoid attracting attention, he wears a polo shirt with a red logo, the color worn by suppor...
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Monday, July 20, 2009 — No Region Specified

Startup addict: Ars interviews Microsoft's Amit Mital

Source: Ars Technica

Amit Mital, corporate vice president of the Unlimited Potential Group and Startup Business Accelerator, should have his title scrapped and replaced with "startup addict." You might be asking what a startup addict is doing at Microsoft, but even a software giant still needs someone to come along and turn ideas into new products. During his 15 years with Microsoft, Mital has been in a leadership role for the shipping of 11 products. His most recent launch was Live Mesh, where he was...
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Monday, July 20, 2009 — South Asia

Are Businesses Without Benefactors Better?

Source: Harvard Business Review

Usually a hot startup bankrolled by eager investors doesn't care much about its burn rate. In the case of Envirofit, though, that was the obsession from the beginning. The company sells cookstoves to "bottom of the pyramid" customers in India and the Philippines, and thanks to innovative engineering, they use less kerosene, burn hotter, and produce 80% less noxious fumes than the most commonly used models. So impressive is the technology that its inventor, engineer Bryan Willson, was hono...
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Monday, July 20, 2009 — South Asia

India Inc feasts on charm

Source: The Telegraph

The much-awaited visit of US secretary of state Hillary Clinton got off to an early start in the commercial capital over breakfast with the doyens of India Inc. The chefs at the Taj Mahal Palace & Towers had prepared several delicacies for the power pow wow. The dishes remained untouched because there was too much food for thought. “Nobody ate breakfast. We were riveted by this charismatic lady in strawberry pink and ...
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Monday, July 13, 2009 — South Asia

India's Indigenous Genius: Jugaad

Source: Wall Street Journal

Etymology aside, I have always been convinced that the word indigenous arose from India. To make something out of limited resources is India's genius and, therefore, indigenous. After centuries of foreign attacks, changing cultures and ever-evolving political stands, India has somehow managed to create an insular economy where we create what we need from what we have. In India, we call this jugaad and you can see a jugaad car on the highways of North India made from spare parts. Inn...
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Monday, July 13, 2009 — South Asia

An Internet for Rural India

Source: CNN Money

One intrepid entrepreneur battles brigands and bureaucrats to bring e-governance to India's 700 million rural poor. By Malika Zouhali-Worrall BANGALORE (Fortune Small Business) -- It's a sweltering day in May, the hottest time of year in the South Indian town of Sathanur. In the shade of a whitewashed storefront, a rugged, mustached man named Nagabhushana Achalu is filing his first application for a certificate that will hel...
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Thursday, July 9, 2009 — South Asia

Rural Markets Hold The Key...

Source: The Hindu Business Line

On his extensive travels across rural India as founder of MART, a rural marketing and research consultancy, Pradeep Kashyap has seen several instances of the kind of micro level development prescribed by policy statements such as the Union Budget. Kashyap, whose organisation earlier this year had done a study which showed that rural demand for goods and services was alive and kicking despite the slowdown in urban India, says that the increased spend in the rural economy as envisaged by the 20...
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Thursday, July 9, 2009 — South Asia

'Poverty Pushes People Towards Entrepreneurship'

Source: Times of India

BANGALORE: More and more people are getting into an entrepreneurial mode and setting up their own businesses. This is not necessarily out of choice, but mostly because they do not really have many other options open to them. Speaking at a lecture on 'Economic Lives Of The Poor', Prof. Abhijit Banerjee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said this diversification into business and entrepreneurship is not necessarily due to choices or lack of it, but because the poor do not have acc...
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009 — No Region Specified

Aakash Ganga: Saving Water for a Rainy Day

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The Ganga (or Ganges) is one of India's mightiest rivers, flowing from the Himalayas in Uttarakhand to the Sunderbans in West Bengal. It is nowhere near the arid northern state of Rajasthan. It is equally remote from Guiyang Municipality in the People's Republic of China. But Aakash Ganga – a rainwater harvesting project that literally means "river from the skies" -- is making a mark in both places. In Rajasthan, the project -- backed by the World Bank -- has already been ...
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009 — South Asia

CK Prahalad: A unique combination of strategic vision and financial acumen

Source: Forbes India

Renowned management thinker CK Prahalad has been watching Devi Shetty for the last six years now. Back then Narayana Hrudyalaya was still a relatively small facility. But even then Prahalad believed that the model held immense promise. “My job has always been to look at models that are different, models that are scalable. And it was clear to me, even at that time, while talking to him that this model is going to grow and he is going to be able to execute it because he is not only a ...
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Monday, July 6, 2009 — No Region Specified

A phone is not just a phone

Source: MIT News

A cellphone is not just for calling, texting and taking pictures anymore. Several startup business ventures spawned by MIT students, sometimes as class projects and sometimes as independent work, are exploring new ways to harness the increasingly ubiquitous devices. They are using phones to help people, especially in developing nations, to raise their incomes, learn to read, get where they're going and even diagnose their ailments. Some of these projects will be field-tested this su...
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Monday, July 6, 2009 — No Region Specified

The Poor Deserve World-Class Products and Services

Source: The Wall Street Journal

C.K. Prahalad, author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid; Eradicating Poverty through Profit (Wharton School Publishing, 2004), has long championed the notion that business -- rather than government handouts -- represents the most effective solution to poverty. In a keynote speech at the recent TiE Entrepreneurship Summit in New Delhi, he noted that India must pay more attention to entrepreneurship, which he described as "the essence of development." "We need to connect the poo...
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009 — Latin America

IGNIA Fund I Invests US$3 Million in Pro-Organico

Source: Earth Times

IGNIA Fund I, LP announced today that it has committed US$3 million to Pro-Organico S.A.P.I. de C.V. in the Company's first round of equity financing. Pro-Organico is a leading grower and exporter of a broad line of USDA-certified organic produce. Pro-Organico links Mexican farmers to the rapidly-growing North American organic produce market by managing agricultural operations and coordinating logistics with distributors and retailers across the United States, Canada and Me...
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009 — South Asia

Rice Power: Cisco, DFJ Award Seed Money to Husk Power Systems

Source: Fast Company

We first wrote about Husk Power Systems, a startup that turns rice husks into energy, back in November 2008. Now the startup, which already powers an entire small town in India, has beat out over 1,000 competitors to win the Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Cisco-sponsored Global Business Plan Competition. As a result, Husk will receive a $250,000 seed round. Husk Power Systems, founded in 2007 by University of Virginia business students Chip Ransler and Manoj Sinha, operates 35 kW to 100 kW...
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