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, January 29, 2010 — South Asia

Growing Interest: Why Banks Are Reaching Out to Rural India

Source: Knowledge@Wharton

In the western Indian state of Maharashtra, in the Mann Desh region, lives 39-year-old Lakshmi Shellar. She spends a typical day in the field tending to her crops; she also rears buffaloes and sells their milk in the village door to door. A widow since the age of 17, Shellar got in touch with Mann Deshi Mahila Bank, a cooperative bank in rural Maharashtra, a few years ago, where she learned the basics about banking products. Now she runs a financial literacy school by night, attended by 20 wo...
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Friday, January 29, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Self-Reliance Ethos Sets Africa Charity Apart

Source: The Telegraph

While billions of pounds have been spent on food aid for developing countries, only a small portion has made any long-term difference to the future economic prosp...
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Thursday, January 28, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Branchless Banking to Enhance Microfinance Operations

Source: Business Daily Africa

Players in the microfinance industry are looking forward to the establishment of branchless banking so that they can reach more people countrywide without the cost of erecting brick and mortar outlets. The planned changes to the legislation governing the setting up of financial institution branches ,which will allow for the establishment of branchless banking or agency banking, is expected to provide microfinance institutions with a leverage to extend their reach at minimal cost. ...
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Thursday, January 28, 2010 — South Asia

IFC Sharpens Focus on Affordable Housing, Housing Finance in India

Source: The Financial

The FINANCIAL -- IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is working with key stakeholders including government, regulatory bodies, private sector developers, and financiers to help make affordable housing available for low- and middle-income populations in India. "As part of this initiative, National Housing ...
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Thursday, January 28, 2010 — South Asia

India's Rural Inventors Drive Change

Source: Asia Times Online

MUMBAI - Mansukh Prajapati invented a first-of-a-kind refrigerator that is made out of terracotta, works without electricity, costs US$53 and is selling in the thousands. It's a sample of an innovation wave from rural and small-town India enriching the world with common-sense products. Anil Gupta, a professor at India's premier business school, the Indian Ins...
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Thursday, January 28, 2010 — No Region Specified

Multinationals: Self-Interest Drives New Attitudes to Agriculture

Source: Financial Times

Global agribusiness companies are waking up to smallholder farmers. Long used to buying their produce through intermediaries, companies are now meeting farmers in the fields. Cadbury is committed to making its leading Dairy Milk brand Fairtrade by supporting small cocoa farmers in Ghana. Unilever &nbs...
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Exploring a Market-Based Approach to Malnutrition


Soon, low-income families in Kenya will be able to add to their diet a pre-cooked porridge product that is rich in proteins and vitamins and supplies the nine essential amino acids required by the human body. The porridge will not be delivered under the auspices of an aid agency or a governme...
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Monday, January 25, 2010 — South Asia

Chennai Builder to Promote Affordable Apartments

Source: Times of India

CHENNAI: Owning a dream home for many a poor Chennaiite could soon become a reality with a leading builder, Khivraj Estates, all set to promote a low-cost residential project at Thiruvottriyur, 10 km from the city centre, at Rs 4 lakh per 269-sq ft studio apartment. The project will come up in an area where a 650-sq ft apartment costs at least Rs 15 lakh at present. Khivraj MD Ajit Chordia sa...
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Tackling the Crisis of Urban Poverty in Kenya

Source: IRIN

NAIROBI, 19 January 2010 (IRIN) - Fridah Awour Agolla has sold vegetables in Nairobi's Mathare slum for 20 years. In better times, her stock sold out every day. But lately market forces have begun to bite even harder for the millions in Kenya who live in such squalid, neglected settlements. "My customers are buying less and less; now I find that goods like vegetables do not sell out, they go into the next day. People's ability to buy these goods has really dropped," A...
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010 — South Asia

Mobile: Silver Bullet to Target the Non-Banked

Source: Financial Express

After 62 years of Independence, the informal economy dominates 80% of India and half the below-poverty-line households still have no access to any kind of financial services. This will continue, unless radical steps are taken. A starting point is the bottom-of-the-pyramid people's need for a basic financial service, viz. mobile money transfer (MMT). While almost all wage earners carry mobiles, not all wage earners will have a bank account. The mobile is the proverbial silver bullet....
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010 — South Asia

FT: Mobile Phones Transform Life of India?s Poor

Source: Financial Times

Before he got a mobile phone seven years ago, Vijay Navle, a small Mumbai fish trader, spent much of his time and scant income travelling on buses and trains. Every day, he would make the five-hour round trip to visit fishermen living on the Arabian Sea on the north of the city to see if they had caught any of the prawns and large fish that he sells to exporters at south Mumbai's Sassoon Dock. "I can immediately inform my customers that there's a big catch coming in fresh ...
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Monday, January 18, 2010 — South Asia

One Man's Crusade to Bring Riches to Rural Areas: Aavishkaar Social Venture Capital Fund

Source: Rediff

Aavishkaar CEO Vineet Rai has been raising the 'social entrepreneurship' bar that will help create excellent, livelihood-generating rural enterprises, says Rajni Bakshi. Vineet Rai enjoys putting a twist in the buzz about social entrepreneurship. Since his work is one of the reasons for the excitement about such businesses, Rai is now a frequent speaker at public events. "I can't wait for the 'social' to be dropped" is usually his opening line. Rai's tightr...
Friday, January 15, 2010 — No Region Specified

Cell Phone Banking Offers Financial Hope to Millions

Source: CNN

Imagine your life if you had no access to banks, ATMs, credit cards, or savings and checking accounts -- just cash that you needed to hide or carry around. It would be hard to save, plan, get ahead, take chances, or feel secure. For billions of poor people in the developing world, that's how life has always been -- and it's a big reason why many have remained poor. And because they're poor, banks steer clear of them. Enter the cell phone. In recent...
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010 — No Region Specified

Worth a Hill of Soyabeans: How the Internet Can Make Agricultural Markets More Efficient

Source: The Economist

WHEN the internet took off in the mid-1990s, it was often claimed that it would improve price transparency, cut out middlemen and make markets more efficient. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence for this, just as there is for similar claims about mobile phones. Empirical data on the impact of these new technologies increasingly support the thesis. Macroeconomic studies suggest that the internet and mobile phones boost growth. The effect is bigger in developing countries than developed...
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010 — No Region Specified

A Spoonful of Ingenuity: New Ideas for Raising Money for Medical Care

Source: The Economist

IN THE old days, the job of eradicating disease fell to governments and inter-governmental bodies. Then charities, often led by celebrities or entrepreneurs, joined in. Finally, in the Western world at least, governments accepted the need to pool their efforts with those of private donors, big and small. The effort still seems unequal to the task. Every year, nearly 11m children die before the age of five because of a mixture of poor nutrition and preventable disease. Many of the United Natio...
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010 — No Region Specified

Cascade Engineering and Windquest Group Form Venture for Safe Water

Source: West Michigan Business

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010 — Asia Pacific

Rural Banks' Service in the Philippines

Source: Manila Times

Rural banks do the nation a great service that people in the cities seldom give a thought to. They serve a market segment big banks don't want to be bothered with. The money of the farmers, rural businesses and agricultural and fishery entrepreneurs that make up that market segment is too small-and therefore too expensive-for the large commercial banks to attend to. Indivi...
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010 — South Asia

GSK, Nestle, Coca-Cola & Dabur Top Up Effort to Tap Rural Consumers

Source: Economic Times

NEW DELHI: Consumer product makers such as GlaxoSmithKline, Nestle, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Hindustan Unilever, Marico, Godrej and Dabur ar are rushing to the bottom-of-the-pyramid market with custom-made products six years after management guru CK Prahalad said consumers with incomes less than $2 a day can be a profitable segment for marketers. Estimated at close...
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010 — North Africa and Near East

Women on the West Bank Fight Poverty with Enterprise

Source: SOS Children

Nearly a year after the war in Gaza, women in the West Bank are overcoming poverty by running their own co-operatives. With help and funding from several aid agencies, women have been able to set up their own small businesses providing training and marketing assistance...
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010 — Latin America

Trinidad and Tobago: SMEs Have Borrowed $225 million

Source: Trinidad and Tobago Guardian

Even as Gerard Talbot-Paul, acting chairman, National Entrepreneurship Development Company (NEDCO), called for a smoother system to be put in place to foster the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), he said they have borrowed $225 million in the last seven years. He said ...
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010 — South Asia

Pakistan: USAID to Finance Gov't for Livestock Uplift

Source: The Nation

KARACHI - The Sindh government has planned to set up Sindh Dairy and Meat Development Company and to initiate master plan study on livestock meat and dairy development under JICA grant during current fiscal year. This was informed at Provincial Development Working Party meeting held under the chairmanship of Additional Chief ...
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Thursday, January 7, 2010 — Asia Pacific

A Fresh Start: Asian Villages Carve Out a New Life

Source: Wall Street Journal

The village of Tmatboey in the northern plains of Cambodia seemed to have little going for it. It lacked clean water; there were no real roads. The people toiled mostly at subsistence farming, barely scraping by. The villagers didn't realize they had a valuable asset -- hiding in plain sight, so to speak: a tourist attraction that a niche group of international travelers would happily pay to see, even if it meant a stay in basic accommodations. And now they're making money...
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Thursday, January 7, 2010 — No Region Specified

Rockefeller Foundation's Push Toward Design and Innovation

Source: Business Week

Recently, I wrote a story about the Aspen Design Summit, a small event at which big name designers and philanthropists got together to talk about ways to apply the techniques of design thinking to social problems such as poverty, hunger or healthcar...
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010 — No Region Specified

Nokia's Handset Chief Targets 500m Handsets This Year With Focus on India

Source: Rethink Wireless

It comes as no surprise that Nokia's new handset c...
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010 — No Region Specified

FT: The Biggest Idea Might Be Learning to Think Small

Source: Financial Times

I spend my life sitting in boardrooms across from chief executives asking me to help them find that mythical beast, "the bi...
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Monday, January 4, 2010 — Europe & Eurasia

Better Vision for the World, on a Budget

Source: New York Times

EGHEL, the Netherlands — With AIDS , ...
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