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, November 30, 2010 — No Region Specified

Africa Agriculture Fund First Close at $135 Million

Source: Press Release

PRESS RELEASE ---- 29 November 2010 The African Agriculture Fund (AAF), a private equity fund designed to respond to the food crisis that severely impacted the continent in 2008 in the wake of escalating food prices, reached its first closing at US$ 135 million in November 2010. AAF investment thesis primarily lies in food production, processing and distribution in cereals, livestock farming, dairy, fruit and vegetabl...
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Monday, November 29, 2010 — No Region Specified

Impact investment ?A Burgeoning Asset Class?

Source: Financial Times

"Impact investment" - an embryonic market in which investors aim to achieve positive social or environmental gains - is beginning to emerge as a separate asset class and should be treated as such, says a report from JPMorgan and the Rockefeller Foundation . The study claims to be the most comprehensive look to...
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Monday, November 29, 2010 — Asia Pacific

Social Entrepreneurs Boost Cooperation to Reduce Poverty in Asia

Source: The Korean Times

Innovative thinkers working for social change converged in Seoul, Monday, in a bid to boost cooperation towards alleviating poverty and other problems in Asia. Some 300 agents of change known as social entrepreneurs - those who apply fresh paradigms to solve pressing human issues - gathered in southern Seoul for the second major gathering of the Asian Social Entrepreneurs Summit. On the first of two days of dialogue at the Kyoyuk Munwha Hoekwan Hotel, tackling pove...
Wednesday, November 24, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Currency War: The Stakes for Africa

Source: The Guardian

By Sanou Mbaye As a result of chronically deficient demand in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial and economic crises, global imbalances are on the rise again, as is the risk of protectionism. The US thinks China is undervaluing its currency to support its industry. The situation could lead to an "international currency war". What does this herald for African...
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010 — South Asia

Union Bank to Enter Microfinance Arena in AP

Source: Business Standard

State-owned Union Bank of India (UBI) made its maiden foray into the micro-credit arena Monday (Nov. 22) with the launch of a new scheme covering 20 mandals in Andhra Pradesh, a state where microfinance activities were hitherto the preserve of private companies. "We have decided to lend 20 mandals about Rs 50 lakh each and we would extend this to about 100 mandals in this fiscal, which will be about Rs 50 crore by way of cash credit facility. T...
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Monday, November 22, 2010 — No Region Specified

Understanding the Financial Landscape for Social Enterprise

Source: The Guardian

The Social Investment Business' Sue Peters examines the impact changes in the funding, lending and investment markets are having on social enterprise The financial climate for people running or setting up social enterprises is like that for business owners or any other entrepreneurs at the moment - the banks aren't lending. Either finance isn't available, or banks say the economic situation means they aren't able to lend the a...
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Friday, November 19, 2010 — Latin America

Brazil's Cash Transfer Scheme Improving the Lives of the Poorest

Source: The Guardian

Rumour has it that when senior civil servants at the Department for International Development (DfID) tried to interest the development secretary Andrew Mitchell in cash transfers, they couldn't get anywhere. One morning he came across a column by my colleague Aditya Chakrabortty and was converted. Within a short space of time the "must rea...
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Friday, November 19, 2010 — South Asia

India's Microfinance Crisis Not a Threat to Banks

Source: ABC News

A steep drop in microloan repayment in India does not threaten the health of the nation's banking system, analysts and regulators say. Many small borrowers in Andhra Pradesh state, which accounts for about a third of India's microlending, stopped repaying their loans after a government crackdown on unscrupulous lending practices that allegedly contributed to dozens of suicides. Now the crackdown on microlending - small loans typic...
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Thursday, November 18, 2010 — No Region Specified

In Praise of Dorm Room Entrepreneurs

Source: Portfolio

They come from the United States, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Finland, Germany, Sri Lanka and the list goes on. They run businesses ranging from a social network application that is claiming 20,000 new users a day to a company that turns the scraps from textile processing into rugs sold around the world, to a company that arranges travel and accommodations for college football fans headed to away games. And they're all undergraduates who ...
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010 — No Region Specified

Gates Foundation Pledges $500 Million to Help the Poor Save Money

Source: The Seattle Times

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $500 million Tuesday to help create new banking systems that will reach into the world's most impoverished corners and allow families earning $2 a day or less to begin saving money. After years of promoting microcredit borrowing to help impoverished farmers and bottom-of-the-rung entrepreneurs expand their business opportunities, foundation leaders said it was increasingly apparent that saving, not just credit, is crucial to helpi...
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Monday, November 15, 2010 — No Region Specified

Unilever Says Sustainability Key to New Business Model

Source: BBC News

Consumer products giant Unilever has unveiled a "new business model" putting sustainability at the heart of its global operations. It pledged to halve the environmental impact of its products while doubling sales over the next 10 years. Chief executive Paul Polman said the new model was "the only way to do business long term". The company said it would produce an annual report on its progress towards achieving these goals. Uni...
Monday, November 15, 2010 — South Asia

Aajeevika Founders Win Schwab Award


New Delhi: Rajiv Khandelwal and Krishnavtar Sharma, founders of the Aajeevika Bureau, a non-profit that works with the migrant workers of south Rajasthan, have won the Social Entrepreneur Award, 2010. The annual award is given by Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in partnership with Jubilant Bhartia Foundation. The bureau is headquartered in Udaipur and has offices in Ahmedabad, Jaipur and seven blocks of south Rajast...
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Friday, November 12, 2010 — Latin America

Brazil bank oversight under fire

Source: Financial Times

Brazil's central bank is being urged to strengthen its oversight of the banking sector after it alleged that Banco Panamericano, a medium-sized bank by assets, had concealed losses of about R$1bn (US$580m), apparently resulting from high rates of customer default at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Shares in Panamericano fell by 30 per cent on Wednesday after the bank's difficulties became public and its management was replaced. But they rallied by 8 p...
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Friday, November 12, 2010 — No Region Specified

Collaborative Consumption is a Better Path for Developing Countries

Source: Good Magazine

The United States was founded on the idea of idea of individual liberty, individual ownership, and individual needs. Unfortunately, this is a costly way for a country to develop, especially if every citizen aspires to express his freedom and individuality by owning a car or a house or a hammer. Nearly 250 years into the evolution of our ethos of individuality, some Americans are starting to recognize that the primacy of in...
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Thursday, November 11, 2010 — No Region Specified

Analysis: Drug industry doses up on emerging markets

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - Big Pharma's drive into emerging markets could make drugmakers look a lot more like consumer goods companies in future. That may be no bad thing. Emerging markets are the new battleground for pharmaceutical companies as sales stall in Western markets, but the focus on volume makes them a very different business proposition to premium-priced markets in the United States and Europe. Kris Jenner, who ru...
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010 — No Region Specified

Frog and UNICEF partner to tackle infant health


Industrial design firm Frog Design, perhaps best known for the creation of the case for the Apple IIc, is working in partnership with children's charity UNICEF as the lead design partner on Project Mwana, a major mhealth initiative to improve maternal and infant health and welfare in Malawi and rural Zambia. The project will start off by making use of mobile technologies in innovative ways to significantly increase mothers' visits to clinics for ant...
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010 — No Region Specified

10,000 Women are Just the Start

Source: The Washington Post

Helen Reddy's iconic "I am woman, hear me roar" is more likely to cause a cringe than goose bumps these days - more a comical anthem to bra-burning histrionics than the soundtrack to a serious movement aimed at greater equality. But when those same sentiments are voiced by a young Afghan woman named Fatima, who has created her own construction business amid war, corruption and a culture that barely tolerates women, one is more inclined towa...
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 — No Region Specified

Gates Foundation scales back 'grand' plan for global health

Source: The Seattle Times

Seven years ago, the Gates Foundation launched an ambitious effort to enlist scientists in solving some of the developing world's most vexing health problems. The brightest minds brainstormed priorities. More than 1,500 proposals poured in from researchers around the world - including several Nobel laureates. The 45 winning ideas were dizzying in their variety: From creating more nutritious bananas to developing vaccines that need no ...
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Thursday, November 4, 2010 — North Africa and Near East

IFC to Push Yemen Microfinance

Source: Reuters

DUBAI, Nov 4 (Reuters) - The World Bank is increasingly focusing on microfinance and small business loans in Yemen as the spike in violence this year is making it hard to find viable projects for investment, a senior official told Reuters. International donors are finding it harder to locate investment projects in the impoverished Arab state, crippling its efforts to diversify its economy away from hydrocarnons, said Raymond Conway, who represents Yemen at the International Finance Corp...
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Thursday, November 4, 2010 — South Asia

Friedman: Do Believe the Hype

Source: The New York Times

The Hindustan Times carried a small news item the other day that, depending on your perspective, is good news or a sign of the apocalypse. It reported that a Nepali telecommunications firm had just started providing third-generation mobile network service, or 3G, at the summit of Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain, to "allow thousands of climbers and trekkers who throng the region every year access to high-speed Internet and video calls using t...
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Time Asks: 'Is This Time For Africa?'

Source: Time

Sending your money to Nigeria - just not in response to a scam e-mail from a deposed ruler's secret son - might actually be a smart move. A growing number of Wall Street pros have been talking up Africa as the next great investment. Goldman Sachs asset-management chief Jim O'Neill, known for spotting the opportunity in Brazil, Russia, India and China and coining the term BRIC, says Africa has interesting potential. Top value investor Chuck Royce has...
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010 — South Asia

Banks support India microfinance lenders

Source: BBC

India's banking industry has thrown its support behind microfinance lenders after weeks of upheaval and confusion. Major banks like the State Bank of India, Standard Chartered and Citi have all agreed to continue lending to microfinance firms. The multi-billion dollar industry was on the brink of a mass default. ...
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Monday, November 1, 2010 — No Region Specified

Allianz: By 2020 Fifth of Customers Will Be 'Very Low Income'

Source: Post Online

By 2020 a fifth of the people insured by Allianz will come from a very low income. That is the view of Michael Anthony, head of microinsurance at Allianz SE, who asked his view of the market in five years time added: "Looking at the global map of Allianz and microinsurance we see extremely strong growth patterns, particularly in Asia, less so in Africa as of yet, and to a solid degree in Latin America where we have a market in Colombia. "...
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