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Thursday, December 30, 2010 — South Asia

Focus on Society, Not Just The Quick Money: Amartya Sen

Source: Silicon India

New Delhi: Speaking at The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) summit, Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen asked the business community to increase their focus on the society than making quick money on the sly. "The business community plays a unique role but they are also part of the society. They should not get into making quick money on the sly. They have to think big, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of remedies for the society," he said. ...
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Thursday, December 30, 2010 — South Asia

Pioneer Avers Solar Power's Now Cheaper than Kerosene

Source: Daily News and Analysis, India

(...) "Our product costs Rs1,000 and gives 24 hours of light on one charge. It is actually cheaper than kerosene when you spread it over the full lifetime," Chugh said. "The solution, technologically, is there.. If 700 million people can buy a mobile phone that costs Rs3,000 or more, they can surely spend Rs1,000 for energy," he said. What is missing, Chugh points out, are market 'enablers'. In other words, while it may indeed be cheaper than a kerosene in the long run, how does...
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Thursday, December 30, 2010 — South Asia

The Underdog Capitalist

Source: New York Times Magazine

If Prahalad's work had a common theme - if he himself had a core competency -- it was what he called the democratization of commerce. He was an unapologetic celebrant of capitalism. But his version of capitalism was one in which the little guy could win, and often did. Small companies were not destined to be crushed by their larger rivals, because ideas mattered more than resources. And selling products to the world's poor didn't exploit them, in his mind; it gave them the same ch...
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Thursday, December 23, 2010 — No Region Specified

African Agriculture Fund First Closes On US$135 Million

Source: Africa Investor

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 an...
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Thursday, December 23, 2010 — South Asia

Banks to Ensure Funds for Microlenders

Source: The Wall Street Journal

MUMBAI -The chief executive of the Indian Banks Association indicated Wednesday that banks will ensure microlenders remain fully funded in the short term to help them overcome temporary hiccups in repayments and maintain business as usual. Microlenders typically fund their loans to their consumers though short-term loans from banks, leaving them vulnerable to temporary fluctuations in repayment patterns. Bad loans in the Indian microfinance space have typically been as low as 0.1%...
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010 — No Region Specified

Massive Change Ahead in Middle East: Women Control $700 Billion

Source: Fast Company

Wealthy female investors in the Middle East are increasingly focused on the environmental and social returns of their investments--not just financial returns. According to Gulf News , women control 22 percent of the region's assets,...
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010 — No Region Specified

The Long and Winding Road Toward US Aid Reform

Source: Devex News

When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walked into the department's Dean Acheson Auditorium Dec. 15 to release the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, she appeared startled by the size of the crowd. The 868-capacity chamber was standing room only. "I appreciate the great interest that this turnout evidences," she told the as...
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010 — Latin America

Fighting Poverty Can Save Energy, Nicaragua Project Shows

Source: National Geographic

In two small villages on Nicaragua's Mosquito Coast, a project to improve electricity service had a remarkable side benefit-household energy use actually dropped nearly 30 percent. When efficient compact-fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs were added to the mix, energy savings surpassed 40 percent. The effort cut costs and brought longer hours of daily electricity service to the people of ...
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010 — No Region Specified

Five Years In, Gauging Impact of Gates Grants

Source: New York Times

SEATTLE - Five years ago, Bill Gates made an extraordinary offer: he invited the world's scientists to submit ideas for tackling the biggest problems in global health, including the lack of vaccines for ...
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Poor Communities to Benefit from Poverty Alleviation Project

Source: The Zimbabwean

GWERU - The European Commission and Heifer Netherlands have funded a US$2.3 million poverty alleviation project through the Heifer Project International that is set to benefit 33 000 people in the Midlands province. The project will see cattle farmers in the province receiving heifers as a pass on gift project. In an interview with The Zimbabwean On Thursday at the launch of the project, the Heifer International Zimbabwe Country Director Bongani Ngwenya said his organisation wa...
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Monday, December 20, 2010 — Asia Pacific

Facebook for Farmers: Technology Empowers China's Rural Workers

Source: BBC News

China Mobile's Nongxintong - or farming information service - launched four years ago. The company is currently focusing on expanding its delivery in China's west and south-west regions. "Building the mobile network and covering most of the country's administrative villages, we realised that there was only a network signal. In rural areas, this is not enough," explains Liu Jing, a local manager for the service at China Mobile. "It's like havi...
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Monday, December 20, 2010 — No Region Specified

Mobile Phones for Women: A New Approach for Social Welfare in the Developing World

Source: Scientific American

Telecoms, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits are pushing to put mobile phones directly in the hands of women in low- and middle-income countries A 2010 report by London-based telecom industry advocacy group GSMA (for Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women found a "mobile gender gap" in low- and middle-income countries: women are 21 percent less likely than men t...
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Monday, December 20, 2010 — No Region Specified

What the NHS could learn from the Grameen Eye Hospital

Source: The Guardian

By Sam Conniff I have learnt that arguing about introducing pay at the point of service charging to the (National Health Service) NHS, with your wine glass fully loaded, with people who sell life saving pharmaceuticals at a tidy profit, is not an ideal technique for getting invited back to dinner parties. Health is one of those topics that p...
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Monday, December 20, 2010 — No Region Specified

Social Networks Meant for Social Good, but at a Price

Source: The New York Times

Over the last year or so, there has been an explosion of online intermediaries promising to help nonprofit groups raise money and awareness. ...
Friday, December 17, 2010 — South Asia

GE Health-Embrace to Distribute Infant Warmer in Early 2011

Source: The Economic Times

MUMBAI: GE Healthcare, in partnership with NGO 'Embrace' will distribute a low-cost 'infant warmer' that looks like a small sleeping bag to rural Indian children early next year. Costing less than one per cent of the traditional incubators, th...
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Friday, December 17, 2010 — No Region Specified

Could Microcarbon Finance Help Eliminate Poverty?

Source: Fast Company

By Thomas Lyon Lately, I've been exploring microcarbon finance, an emerging hybrid of carbon offset and microloan strategy that has the potential to be endlessly confusing to a non-specialist. But when you get past the details, microcarbon finance has the potential to ignite direct environmental action and social transformation for the one billion people at the "Base of the Pyramid" who live on less than $1 a day. Microfinance programs, which match poor entrepreneurs in develo...
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Thursday, December 16, 2010 — South Asia

NGO Wants to Put City?s Cycle Rickshaws on a Fast Track

Source: The Times of India

GURGAON: His business concept has changed the lives of 5,00,000 rickshaw pullers in north India. He wants US president Barack Obama to ride a rickshaw. Irfan Alam, the 35-year-old IIM-Ahmedabad graduate from Bihar who has kicked off a rickshaw revolution across eight states, wants Gurgaon to love his rickshaws. Alam's 'smart' rickshaws are sleek, have shelves that can stock mineral water, soft drinks, newspapers and other 'small items of necessity and is, the bit which most Gu...
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Thursday, December 16, 2010 — No Region Specified

World Bank Boosts Lending to Poor

Source: Financial Times

The World Bank said it had expanded by about 18 per cent its capacity to give grants and loans to the world's poorest countries over the next three years. The $49.3bn funding package for the International Development Association, the bank's grant and soft-loan arm, will increase the bank's support to low-income countries despite worldwide pressure on aid budgets as the result of shaky government finan...
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Unemployed African Youth to Benefit from UN-backed Finance Programme

Source: UN News Centre

Some 200,000 low-income youth in sub-Saharan Africa will benefit from a United Nations-backed initiative announced today to increase access for them to financial services in a region where youth unemployment rates are two to three times that of adults. YouthStart, co-sponsored by UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the MasterCard Foundation, which has made a four-year, $12 million contribution, is a competition-based programme that will identify and support up to 12 financial instit...
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 — South Asia

Still No Access to Product and Services at BOP: Tata

Source: The Economic Times

AHMEDABAD: Seeking to address the issue of challenges to inclusive growth in emerging economies, Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata today said that at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) people are still not having access to product and services, as they are still slightly beyond their reach. "India is a country normally referred to the consuming markets of 253 million people. And when we analyse that market we see with the prosperity that India is enjoying today there is an upward m...
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010 — No Region Specified

In Haiti, Good Intentions Have Unexpected and Unfortunate Results

Source: The Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti - The wood-frame Carousel grammar school survived the earthquake that destroyed much of this city in January. Beatrice Moise had taught there for five years and hoped she would continue when schools reopened in spring. But in February she found out that the director had rented ...
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Jane Goodall Saves Chimpanzees Using Microcredit

Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Jane Goodall came to Gombe National Park to study chimpanzees 50 years ago. She became one of the world's best known primate researchers. In the early 1990s, she became shocked by the ecological destruction around the park and left the jungle to become an activist. Nowadays she's saving the primates using microcredit. The 76-year-old chimpanzee expert travels the world to talk about her conservation work. She tells stories about how local people are involved in conserving the...
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010 — South Asia

ADB?s $250 Million Risk Programme to Expand Microfinance to Poor

Source: Daily Times (Pakistan)

By Sajid Chaudhry ISLAMABAD: The Board of directors of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) has approved a Microfinance Risk Participation Programme, marking ADB's first large scale private sector microfinance initiative. An ADB statement issued here on Monday said the programme will allow ADB to partner with financial institutions that actively lend to microfinance institutions (MFIs) in ADB's developing member countries, and to share the defaul...
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Monday, December 13, 2010 — South Asia

Microfinance Pioneer Yunus Criticises Indian Lenders

Source: Google News

DHAKA - Bangladeshi microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus on Sunday attacked companies for "misusing and abusing" his original concept of helping poor people via small loans, after a backlash against profit-making lenders. Yunus admitted the reputation of micro-credit had been tarnished due to Indian commercial companies that charge high interest rates and use allegedly heavy-handed tactics to collect repayments. India's biggest lender to the poor, SKS Microfinance, has been in ...
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Monday, December 13, 2010 — South Asia

The Technology to Unlock the Future of Villages

Source: The Times of India

In 20 years of working as a physician in Karnataka's Hassan district, Kumaraswamy N E often found himself irked by the blurred readings on the electrocardiography (ECG) machine. Often enough, it just broke down, which meant that the high cost of measuring heart activity had to be passed on to the patient...
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Friday, December 10, 2010 — South Asia

A Silver Lining in Pakistan's Floods

Source: Businessweek

With the devastating floods that began in July, Mother Nature has left an indelible imprint on Pakistan-its geography, its people, its national psyche. But it has also created an opportunity to change the destiny of millions of flood victims who traumatically lost their loved ones, homes, and livelihoods in mere days. This natural disaster may have given the country an opportunity to tackle a recurring point of contention in Pakistan-feudalism. Academics, journalists, and analysts have ...
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Friday, December 10, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Sudan's First SMS-Powered Voting Monitor Tracks Violence

Source: Fast Company

While Sudanese vote about the fate of South Sudan's independence, one Sudan-born Texan supports the voting process from afar with a historic mobile-powered monitoring tool. Fareed Zein came to the United States from Sudan in 1981 to pursue a college education in computer science. One of the lucky ones, his family could afford his departure and his education, and he left before civil war rattled his homeland. Zein now spends his time--outside of his day job in oil and gas in Ho...
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Friday, December 10, 2010 — South Asia

Tata?s Nano, the Car That Few Want to Buy

Source: The New York Times

Though car sales have shot up across India, because of an economy that is growing at nearly 9 percent annually, sales of the Nano have been falling for the last four months. Its maker, Tata Motors , sold only 509 Nanos to its dealers in...
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Thursday, December 9, 2010 — No Region Specified

16 Tycoons Agree to Give Away Fortunes

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The billionaire founder of social network Facebook Inc. has agreed to give the majority of his wealth to charity, part of a broader group of rich entrepreneurs committing to philanthropy earlier in their lives. Mark Zuckerberg has signed onto the "Giving Pledge," which asks its signatories to commit publicly to give away the majority of their wealth. The 26-year-old is one of 16 billionaires new to the p...
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 — No Region Specified

Rural Areas Face Challenges to Eradicate Extreme Poverty

Source: BBC News

Some 350 million people living in rural areas being lifted out of extreme poverty in the past decade, according to The Rural Poverty Report , published by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations (UN) agency. However, in spite of this, more than a billion people around the world still continue to suffer. The UN describes extreme poverty as living on less than $1.25 (80p) a...
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010 — South Asia

Thailand Post Wins Green Light to Lend

Source: Bangkok Post

The cabinet yesterday approved a plan by Thailand Post to set up a subsidiary to provide microfinance services to low-income earners, using its nationwide post offices as a channel. Information and Communications Technology Minister Juti Krairiksh said that the subsidiary would have initial registered capital of 50 million baht and would extend loans as small as 10,000 baht each. He said that there are about 18 million low-income earners in the country who still have no access to ...
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 — South Asia

Malaysian Minister Pledges Help for Ethnic Indians

Source: Sify News

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia will initiate a slew of measures, including access to micro-credit facilities and skills training, to improve the economic condition of its 2.1 million ethnic Indians, a senior minister said Wednesday. Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam said the citizenship and welfare issues of the Indian community would be resolved by the end of next year. He said the cabinet committee's special task force has identified 20 areas in the country with a high c...
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010 — South Asia

Acumen Fund Invests $11 Million in 9 Pakistan Sectors

Source: Business Recorder

KARACHI - The Acumen Fund has invested $11 million in nine different sectors for poverty alleviation in Pakistan. "The Fund started its investment in Pakistan in 2006 with an initial investment of $1 million, which has now increased to $11 million in 2010", Zubyr Soomro, chairman of Acumen Fund Pakistan Advisory Council, said at the Acumen Fund Community Annual Gathering 2010 at a hotel here on Saturday. He spoke about his personal journey with the Acumen Fund, and the inspiration ...
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010 — South Asia

Big Trouble for Microfinance

Source: The Economist

OVER the past month, we've covered the ongoing crisis in the microfinance industry in Andhra Pradesh, the state in India where microfinance-especially, but not only its for-profit variant exemplified by recent stock-market debutant SKS-has grown most rapidly and has the largest number of borrowerss. The situation on the ground seems to have remained largely unchanged since we covered the story ...
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010 — South Asia

Kids Test Solar-Powered Computer Tablet for Schools in India

Source: Treehugger.com

The One Laptop Per Child project might need to step up, now that tablet devices are on the scene. Rice University has partnered up with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Villages for Development and Learning Foundation in India to develop a solar powered tablet computer that can be used in schools that lack electricity. Dubbed the "I-Slate," it is already being tested out in classrooms. ...
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Monday, December 6, 2010 — No Region Specified

China leads decline in world rural poverty

Source: AFP

ROME — China has led a dramatic decline in rural poverty rates in many parts of the world over the past decade, a report released on Monday by the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development showed.
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Monday, December 6, 2010 — Asia Pacific

Unilever Eyes Top and Bottom-end Segments in Developing Markets

Source: channelnewsasia.com

SINGAPORE : Consumer goods giant Unilever wants to straddle both the top and the bottom of the economic pyramid in developing markets. This is part of its strategy to tap Asia's growth potential, and compensate for the slack in its European and North America units. And to support this growth, Unilever has been making invest...
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Monday, December 6, 2010 — South Asia

What?s Policy Got to Do With Social Enterprise?

Source: Wall Street Journal - India Realtime

By Lindsay Clinton Many social entrepreneurs and social investors tend to avoid inviting the government to their table because it often means a slow, fat-fingered solution, rather than a targeted, nimble infusion of resources. However, government policy can also serve as a growth catalyst and a broad-based enabler, and, as such, cannot be overlooked as an important partner in the development of social enterprise as a sector. What does a marriage between social enterprise and...
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Saturday, December 4, 2010 — No Region Specified

Private Equity Discovers Bottom of the Pyramid

Source: The Financial Express

With a staggering increase in capital invested across social ventures-$404.58 million in 2010 as compared to $150.36 million in 2009-private equity/ venture capital players are finding a fortune beyond the tip of the pyramid. And, in a turn of focus, interstitially more and more mainstream PE/VC funds are also venturing in this hitherto reserved space of social venture capital funds, making the investment play in the segment dynamic like never before. Fathom this: If social VC funds suc...
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Friday, December 3, 2010 — South Asia

India Microfinance Body: Sector Facing Survival Threat

Source: Dow Jones

MUMBAI -(Dow Jones)- India's microfinance sector could be all but wiped out if immediate steps aren't taken to rescue it, after authorities in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh initiated steps to tighten its grip over their lending activities, the president of a local representative body said Friday. "By Dec. 31, if this situation continues, there will be no microfinance sector in 2011," Vijay Mahajan of Microfinance Institution Network, or MFIN, told reporters on the sidelin...
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