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
Monday, March 29, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Mittal Looks to Africa for Mobile Growth

Source: Hindustan Times

Sunil Bharti Mittal's acquisition of the Africa operations of Zain Telecom for $10.7 billion is the latest episode in the great Indian takeover. Coming as it does when international capital markets have not yet fully recovered from the worst crash in living memory, Mr Mittal's ability to raise $8.5 billion for the acquisition is testimony to India's rising export of frugal engineering. Zain loses money in Africa despite its customers running up telephone bills twice as large...
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Monday, March 29, 2010 — No Region Specified

Unitus, OPIC, Citi to Make $15 Million Available for Emerging MFIs

Source: Marketwatch

SEATTLE, Mar 29, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- In their ongoing effort to empower the world's poor through microfinance, international nonprofit Unitus, Inc., the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and Citi have finalized a $15 million credit facility that will help foster growth among high-potential microfinance institutions (MFIs) and create more opportunities for families working their way out of poverty. The agreement will match the strong partner relationships and expert...
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Monday, March 29, 2010 — South Asia

India: MFI Funds Widen Focus to Cover New Social Sectors

Source: VC Circle

India's microfinance-focussed private equity fund managers are now diversifying their investment base into newer areas of social investing as they raise new vehicles. These funds are investing ...
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Thursday, March 25, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Small Seed Packets Open Doors for African Farmers

Source: Afrique en Ligne

Taking a lead from the success of fast-moving consumer products in rural areas, local African seed companies and NGOs are reducing the size of packets of seeds and fertilizers to help smallholder farmers take the first steps to scale-up production. Like cell phone scratch cards, small packets of high-quality seeds can be bought for just a few shillings, enabling farmers to try out the seed before risking th eir money on large purchases for uncertain results. A press...
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Thursday, March 25, 2010 — South Asia

Divergent Trends in Durable, Non-Durable Consumer Goods

Source: LiveMint

The industrial production numbers conceal divergent trends. In particular, the difference between the rates of growth in the durable and non-durable consumer goods sectors has been marked. The production of non-durable consumer goods has shown a high growth rate of 25.1% in 2009-10 so far, while non-durable goods have grown at a sedate 6.4%. Some of it is due to a base effect, as durable consumer goods grew at a mere 3.9% in 2008-09. But then, the growth of non-durable consumer goods in...
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Thursday, March 25, 2010 — No Region Specified

Unitus Capital Appoints Two Top Executives

Source: VC Circle

Unitus Capital, a financial advisory firm offering services to microfinance institutions (MFIs) and social enterprises, has announced two executive level hires. The firm has roped in former Morgan Stanley India head Narayan Ramachandran as co-ch...
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Thursday, March 25, 2010 — South Asia

Yunus Bats for Separate Stock Exchanges for Social Businesses

Source: Financial Express

Advocating the cause of social business, Nobel Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank Muhammad Yunus on Tuesday called for the creation of separate stock exchanges for social business entities. Unlike a profit-making business, the objective of this business should remain selfless. Speaking on a dialogue forum on social business here, the managing director of Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank said, "We need a separate stock market for social businesses. Profits earned from an investment in the...
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Food Security: Africa Leaders Opt for Revolution

Source: The Guardian (Nigeria)

Leaders of 44 African countries gathered in Abuja recently to discuss how to ensure food security for their hungry compatriots. The leaders, weary from years of waiting for food donors, noted that it was time for a revolution in the agribusiness and agro-industry sector if hunger were to be banished, writes NKECHI ONYEDIKA from Abuja. AFRICA has an arable land. It has a strong, large pool of young population. It also has a good variety of seeds, roots, tubers, fruits, vegetables and pla...
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010 — North Africa and Near East

World Bank Loans $300m to Egypt to Promote Finance for Small and Medium Enterprise

Source: The Financial

The World Bank 's Board of Executive Directors on March 9 approved a $300 million loan to support access to finance for small and micro entrepreneurs whose role is vital in Egypt's job creation and economic growth. "The Enhancing Access to Finance for Micro and Small Enterprises (MSE) Project will...
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Oil Tycoon Wood 'Teas' Up First Multi-Million Deal for Africa's Poor

Source: The Scotsman

OIL tycoon Sir Ian Wood has announced plans to make the first major investment to help the poor in Sub Saharan Africa from his family's £50 million charitable trust. Sir Ian, one of the richest men in Scotland, announced two years ago that he was devoting £50m of his personal fortune to establish the Wood Family Trust, with the intention of investing the money in a series of economic, community and enterprise activities in Sub Saharan Africa and Britain over a ten-y...
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Monday, March 22, 2010 — South Asia

Marketeers Flock to Rural India for Global Innovations

Source: LiveMint

Mumbai: Rural India, which has propelled the growth of most consumer goods makers in the past year, is emerging as a laboratory for companies to test products and services that can then be replicated in overseas markets with a similar profile. Tata Chemicals Ltd is test marketing a low-cost water purifier, Tata Swach, for the rural market. Over the course of the year, the product will be rolled out nationally and then in developing and emerging markets across Africa, South-East Asia and...
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Friday, March 19, 2010 — No Region Specified

New Head of IFAD: Tapping Women's Enterprise to Topple Rural Poverty

Source: IPS

ROME, Mar 18, 2010 (IPS) - Employees at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) may have cause to fear for their jobs after Yukiko Omura was appointed vice president of the United Nations' rural poverty agency in February. The Japanese economist is not one of those ruthless job-slashing executives that organisations bring in when they want to downsize to efficiency though. But, she is a determined, capable woman who believes that IFAD's mission is to help...
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Friday, March 19, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya Prime Minister Roots for Women

Source: Capital FM Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 19 - Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Friday called on African leaders to enhance the continent's economic competitiveness by ensuring that women have access to financial services and occupy key leadership positions in the financial sector. The Premier said that Africa must pursue inclusive financial sector policies, which are accessible and therefore enable the participation of a greater number of women -to ensure that they contribute to the decisions that ar...
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Friday, March 19, 2010 — Asia Pacific

Guangdong to Raise Minimum Wage by Average of 21%

Source: FinFacts

The minimum wage in South China's industrial heartland Guangdong Province, is to be raised by 21 per cent on average to a range from RMB 660 renminbi to 1,030 ($96 to $ 150) a month from May 1st in a bid to attract migrant workers, local authorities said Thursday. Guangdong, north of Hong Kong, in the Pearl River delta region, which is responsible for a third of China's exports and would rank as one of the world's 10 largest exporters if it were a country, is finding it...
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Friday, March 19, 2010 — No Region Specified

SC Johnson and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Unite to Combat Malaria

Source: CSR Wire

RACINE, Wis., Mar. 17 /CSRwire/ - SC Johnson, A Family Company, today announced a collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on global efforts to combat malaria. The organizations will jointly support research programs conducted by Cornell University Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and a consortium of Indonesian research institutions to advance the development and use of consumer products in the fight against the spread of the disease. This collaboration ...
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Thursday, March 18, 2010 — No Region Specified

Credit Suisse Explores Microfinance

Source: INSEAD Knowledge

"Microfinancing is banking, and banking is our core competence, so why not have a look at it?" says Arthur Vayloyan , head of Investment Services and Products at Private Banking Credit Suisse in Zurich (MBA 95D). Switzerland's number two investment bank became active in the microfinance doma...
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Thursday, March 18, 2010 — South Asia

Dutch Firm Cooks Nutritious Plan for Indian Rice

Source: Financial Express

Royal DSM N.V., the Netherlands headquartered global life sciences and materials sciences company is looking at the bottom of the pyramid market in India for bringing in their micronutrient business. DSM plans to bring in its rice fortification programme to India and is ready to demonstrate the benefits of rice fortification to fight micronutrient malnutriti...
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Thursday, March 18, 2010 — Asia Pacific

4,000 Entrepreneurs To Be Created Among Poor Women By 2012

Source: Bernama (Malaysia)

The government targets to create 4,000 women entrepreneurs among the hardcore poor, who are those with a household monthly income of less than RM440, by 2012. Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said this was one of the measures taken to move 44,643 people out of hardcore poverty. She said to date, 1,400 names had been identified for the entrepreneurial programme carried out with the cooperation of 18 ministries and governmen...
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Thursday, March 18, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Technology lifts status for many African women

Source: IDG News Service

No description provided
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010 — No Region Specified

Elevar Raises $70 Million to Invest in Microfinance

Source: Seattle Times

An equity fund focused on poverty? Sounds odd, I know. But Chris Brookfield, who managed funds for Unitus, and his partners at Elevar said today they have raised $70 million to invest in companies providing services to people at the bottom of the economic ladder. Elevar told me a bit about the fund last June. Seattle-based Elevar will invest in companies involved in...
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenyan Farmers Take to Insurance

Source: New Vision

Kenyan farmers can now insure some of the costs of growing crops against bad weather by using mobile phone technology that links solar-powered weather stations to an insurance company. Farmers can cover the cost of seeds, fertilisers and pesticides at local agricultural supply shops by paying an extra 5% of their value. If their harvest fails due to bad weather they are reimbursed and can plant again. For now, the policy only covers wheat and...
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Monday, March 15, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Banks Head to Western Kenya

Source: Daily Nation - Kenya

With increased competition for customers and the need to grow income streams, most banks are now setting up outlets in Western Kenya. And to ensure an uptake of their products, these institutions are struggling to wipe out the negative attitude towards bank loans from the minds of the region's inhabitants. Fierce fight Over the recent past Kakamega Town has been the centre of fierce competition amongst banks with each opening up more branches.
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Monday, March 15, 2010 — South Asia

The Emergence of India?s New Stakeholders

Source: LiveMint

Like most urban dwellers, I too live in an apartment complex with the associated service suppliers, two of them being my household help and the couple who iron my clothes (in perfect crease) every week. My household help's daughter works alongside while her cousin is practising as a lawyer in Australia; the ironing lady's son is midway through a degree course in information technology. Both families are clear that the next generation will not be in any way associated with the pro...
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Saturday, March 13, 2010 — No Region Specified

New Report Reveals Lack of Appropriate Training for Women Smallholders

Source: Business Wire India

Over half of the worlds agricultural producers are women, yet men still receive more and better training. A report released today highlights the need for agricultural and enterprise training for women smallholders to ensure poverty is reduced in developing countries. 'Training for Rural Development: Agriculture and Enterprise Skills for Women' is the first report issued by the City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development (CSD) that focuses on rural development. It ...
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Saturday, March 13, 2010 — Latin America

Private Sector Eyes Opportunity in Haiti Rebuilding

Source: Reuters

Rebuilding Haiti after its catastrophic earthquake should generate major contracts for private companies specializing in construction, logistics, transport and security, but U.S. executives say they need a clear reconstruction strategy to shape their business plans. Private sector firms that focus on post-conflict or disaster relief operations gathered at a meeting in Miami this week to consider the business opportunities offered by Haiti's recovery from the January 12 quake that de...
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Saturday, March 13, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Social Enterprise Helps Malawi's Poor

Source: BBC

The weekly HIV clinic is teeming with patients of all ages, from babies to grand-parents. A health care worker is questioning one of them about their social and economic background. He writes down an increasingly grim litany. Education - none, job - none, children - many, rooms in mud hut - too few. It is clear that these are people in need. In Malawi, one in eight adults are infected with HIV. But drugs alone may not be the answer to this ...
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Friday, March 12, 2010 — No Region Specified

Microwork is the New, New Buzzword in Global Outsourcing

Source: Globe and Mail

An hour's drive from Haiti's earthquake-ravaged capital of Port-au-Prince hums a cyber café, decked with dozens of new netbooks, intermittent Internet connectivity and hope. Within these lemon-painted walls, 47 young workers are learning to translate emergency text messages in Creole, French and English - requests for medical care, food, water and shelter - to help improve response times by aid workers on the ground. Their messages are collected on an SMS feed and distrib...
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Friday, March 12, 2010 — North Africa and Near East

World Bank Supports Micro and Small Enterprises in Egypt

Source: My News

The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors today approved a $300 million loan to support access to finance for small and micro entrepreneurs whose role is vital in Egypt's job creation and economic growth. The Enhancing Access to Finance for Micro and Small Enterprises (MSE) Project will support the government's priority program to encourage the sustainable expansion of this sector. It is estimated to account for over 99 percent of Egyptian enterprises, 85 percent of non-...
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Friday, March 12, 2010 — South Asia

Global Billionaires Turn to Philanthropy in India

Source: Economic Times

MUMBAI: In his khadi jacket, sitting in a south Mumbai fivestar hotel, Jayant Sinha does not look any bit of the hedge fund manager that he was until a few months ago. In fact, he looks more like his father, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha. But it is a different sort of deal that Sinha is chasing. As the India head of Omidyar Network , Sinha is looking at various initiatives to improve the lot of those at the bo...
Friday, March 12, 2010 — No Region Specified

Half of Entrepreneurs are Socially-Driven

Source: Financial Times

Business people are more virtuous than some might think, according to a new report. Nearly half of entrepreneurs said that creating jobs or making a difference socially or environmentally was a primary driver for setting up their venture, many more than official estimates, according to interviews with 2,100 entrepreneurs compiled by Delta Economics and IFF Research. According to the Office of the Third Sector, there are only 62,000 social enterprises in the UK - businesses with pr...
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010 — South Asia

Rally to Demand Rights of Waste Collectors

Source: Times of India

PUNE: They collect garbage from your door-step, sort it out without the aid of any safety gears and earn their livelihood selling paper, plastic, metal and glass to recycling industries... They help reduce the burden on landfills... However, they are treated with neglect and indifference by the government and the society at large. To change this scenario, about 15 lakh scrap and waste collectors across India, under t...
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Monday, March 8, 2010 — South Asia

Janalakshmi to Focus on Financial Inclusion of Urban Poor

Source: Money Control News Center

Narayan Ramachandran, Ex-Country Head and Managing Director of Morgan Stanley India has decided to focus on financial inclusion of the urban poor. He has been now appointed as the Director on the board of Janalakshmi Financial Services run by Ramesh Ramanathan, who is the Chairman of the organisation. Here is a verbatim transcript of an exclusive interview with Narayan Ramachandran and Ramesh Ramanathan on CNBC-TV18. Also watch the accompanying video.
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Monday, March 8, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Menstruation Stigma Costs Girls Dearly: Development Group and MIT Create Affordable Sanitary Pads

Source: Toronto Star

Three days a month, Annalita is too embarrassed to go to school. The Rwandan teen, like millions of her peers worldwide, is menstruating. Her family can't afford sanitary pads, so Annalita makes do with what few materials she can find including rags, bark and mud. But these makeshift pads are usually ineffective. Rather than focusing on her studies, Annalita spends her day anxious about a potential accident in front of her classmates. She also worries about embarrassment...
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Monday, March 8, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Innovation Provides Alternative Energy Source

Source: Engineering News (South Africa)

Local handmade paper and products marketer and sales agent Phumani Paper is actively involved in assisting community-based enterprises to diversify their income base by introducing innovative products. One of these products is the ecofuel briquette. University of Johannesburg (UJ) associate professor in the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture Kim Berman explains that the fuel briquette is a round disc made of slightly decomposed and compressed plant matter,...
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Monday, March 8, 2010 — No Region Specified

Easing Poverty Can Be Good for Business

Source: Times Online

At the World Economic Forum in Davos recently, a diminutive figure in a brightly coloured suit could be seen stalking the hallowed halls of business and finance, casting fear into the most imposing of corporate leaders, albeit with easy smiles and endless diplomatic charm. Barbara Stocking, the first female director of Oxfam, is on a mission to persuade business to assist in the charity's goal of improving the lives of the poor. "People want to see me for one of two reasons: they fe...
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Thursday, March 4, 2010 — No Region Specified

Microsoft and Providing Internet Access To One Billion By 2015

Source: Fast Company

Incubated by Microsoft , Canada's International Development Research Centre ( IDRC ), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation ( SDC ) for the past five years as, the new Foundation ...
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Thursday, March 4, 2010 — No Region Specified

Global Poverty And The Cost Of A Pair Of Jeans

Source: NPR

The classic way for a country to work its way out of poverty is to build a textiles industry. And if you're a developing country today looking to get into the textiles business -- making pants, shirts, that kind of thing -- you have to have a trade deal with the U.S. Adam Davidson and Chana Joffe-Walt have been reporting recently on the effort by Haitian businesspeople to land a better trade deal with the U.S. (They did a ...
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 — South Asia

Microfinance Grapples With Success

Source: Business Standard

Microfinance is in the news, again for the wrong reasons. Five years ago, it was tension over multiple lending and coercive recovery in Andhra Pradesh. Now it is Muslim community leaders in a couple of districts in Karnataka issuing a fiat to their members to renege on microfinance institution (MFI) loan repayments as they do not approve of such borrowings. What's worse, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued a severe warning to MFIs against wrong practices. RBI's main concern, re...
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 — No Region Specified

The Tupperware Effect: Can Direct Sales Help Women Living in Poverty?

Source: Newsweek

While direct sales presents a potential career path for Americans looking for work, most of the growth for companies like Tupperware and Avon is happening abroad-specifically, in emerging markets like Africa and Indonesia. The presence of these companies in poor nations have provided a much-needed chance for women to gain economic independence. It's been a successful partnership on both sides, and the impact of these companies is s...
Tuesday, March 2, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

For Pennies, a Disposable Toilet That Could Help Grow Crops

Source: New York Times

A Swedish entrepreneur is trying to market and sell a biodegradable plastic bag that acts as a single-use toilet for urban slums in the developing world. Once used, the bag can be knotted and buried, and a layer of urea crystals breaks down the waste into fertilizer, killing off disease-producing pathogens found in feces. The bag, called the Peepoo , is the brainchild of Anders Wilhelmson, an architect and p...
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 — South Asia

Acumen Fund Announces Investment in Husk Power Systems

Source: PR News

New York, NY ( PRWEB ) March 2, 2010 -- Acumen Fund, a nonprofit venture firm addressing poverty in South Asia and East Africa, today announced a new investment in Husk Power Systems (HPS), an innovative rural electrification company that will establish decentralized power generation to remote villages in India. The company uses novel biomass gasification technology to convert abundant rice husks into combustible gases, which then drive a generator to produce...
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Monday, March 1, 2010 — No Region Specified

Maximum Impact: How Top Philanthropists Would Spend $10 Billion

Source: Wall Street Journal

At this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Bill Gates , the chairman of Microsoft Corp., committed $10 billion over the next decade to help develop vaccines and distribute them to children in the developing world. By anyone's estimation, this is a lot of money and a worthy cause. But could it be spent even more wisely? It is now ...
Monday, March 1, 2010 — No Region Specified

Microfinance's Midlife Crisis

Source: Wall Street Journal

From humble beginnings, microfinance-a system of providing tiny loans and savings accounts to the poor-has grown into a global industry attracting the interest of large multinational banks. But the commercialization of the industry has sparked a fierce debate. Profit advocates highlight improved access to foreign capital and expertise; traditionalists say microfinance companies are in danger of becoming little better than predatory moneylenders. There is little doubt that microfin...
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