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, May 24, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Text Message Cash Transfers Booming in South, East Africa

Source: Agence France Presse

Cash transfers by text message is a boom market in south and east Africa, with companies looking at introducing more sophisticated products in order to get an advance on the competition. MTN Uganda, the country's largest mobile phone provider, said Monday that nearly 900,000 people were using its text message money transfer since the service was introduced 15 months ago. Since the launch of the MobileMoney service in March 2009, its 8...
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Friday, May 21, 2010 — South Asia

Reverse Innovation: High End Technology at a Price Affordable to Consumers

Source: Economic Times

In a 2009 case study by GE chairman Jeff Immelt, the idea brief ended with this line; "If GE doesn't master reverse innovation, the emerging giants could destroy the company." Prophetic words, for the emerging giants like India and China are becoming masters of innovation. Emerging markets are evolving in to centres of innovation in fields from low-cost healthcare devices and wind power to micro finance and electric cars, creating and developing simple products that can s...
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Friday, May 21, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Equity Bank, Safaricom Create New Banking Venture M-KESHO

Source: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

Equity Bank and Safaricom have Tuesday launched a bank account that enables customers to transfer money to and from their M-PESA Equity Bank accounts via their mobile handsets. The companies say this new service will push the banking frontiers to the unbanked population by enabling Kenyans with mobile phones to easily open bank accounts. They said the launch of the acc...
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Friday, May 21, 2010 — Latin America

Chiapas Farms Raises $6.5 Million from IGNIA Fund

Source: peHUB

IGNIA Fund I, LP, the first impact investing fund in Latin America, announced today an investment of US$5 million in Chiapas Organic Holdings, Inc. ("Chiapas Farms"), a leading Mexican producer and trader of export-grade fruits and vegetables. This investment is part of a US$6.5 millionequity financing round that includes a US$1.5 million investment from existing shareholders. "Chiapas Farms integrates the Me...
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Friday, May 21, 2010 — South Asia

MFI Startup Vistaar Raises Rs 15Cr From Elevar, SVB India Capital

Source: VC Circle

Armed with the Series A funding, Vistaar LFI expects to start operation soon and focus on expansion in the first year.
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Friday, May 21, 2010 — South Asia

Meet India's Tampon King


NEW DELHI, India - Not long ago, women in the small south Indian town of Coimbatore were convinced that 47-year-old A. Muruganantham was some kind of pervert. After a failed attempt with his wife and sisters and a cockeyed do-it-yourself effort with a football bladder full of goat's blood, he'd finally hit upon a surefire way to test the low-cost sanitary napkin he was developing for India's poor. He was passing out free pads ...
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Monday, May 17, 2010 — South Asia

The New Colours Of Venture Capital

Source: Outlook India

The sun sets and a shroud of darkness descends rapidly over Bihar's West Champaran district. Without electricity, much of the population turns to kerosene lanterns. But Tamkuha and 45 other villages in the district are glimmering islands of light, even late into the night. A little company called Husk Power Systems (HPS) has been setting up mini power plants in these villages. As its name suggests, the plants are powered by rice husk-512 kg of it in a d...
Monday, May 17, 2010 — South Asia

Every Poor Counts: Block-level Picture to Capture Real Suffering

Source: Economic Times

NEW DELHI: The government will compile figures at the district and block levels to arrive at a more accurate identification of poor for better targeting of welfare schemes. So far, the poor in India have only been counted at the national and state levels. The Planning Commission has commissioned a study which will come up with these relevant numbers soon. ...
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Monday, May 17, 2010 — No Region Specified

In NYC, Blair Touts Cell Phones for Kenyan Women

Source: Associated Press

NEW YORK - The wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair asked business leaders at a meeting convened by Bill Clinton on Thursday to help her put cell phones into the hands of women in Kenya. Cherie Blair said mobile phones are "a vital educational, health and economic tool" that can help women in the developing world achieve equality with men. Blair, a human rights lawyer, was in New York attending the midyear meeting of the forme...
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Thursday, May 13, 2010 — Latin America

Ambitious Brazil Housing Plan Would Replace Slums

Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Cristina Silva dos Santos is close to realizing a dream she has had for 28 years, since giving birth to the first of six children: a home big enough for her entire family. For now, she and her five youngest are squeezed into a four-room, rough-brick house the size of most garages, where they all sleep in the same room. But a new government housing program, the largest in Latin America aimed at cutting overcrowding in slums, will give Silv...
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

IFC Launches New Fund to Invest in Smaller Companies in Central Africa

Source: Media Newswire

( - Washington, DC, May 10, 2010-IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today launched a new fund that will focus exclusively on investing in small and medium enterprises in central Africa, helping to improve access to finance, create employment, and reduce poverty in some of Africa's least developed countries. IFC is investing $12.5 million in equity in the Central Africa Small and Medium Enterprise ( SME ) Fund, which will make equity and equity-...
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010 — Latin America

IGNIA Fund Leads US$7 Million Financing of Finestrella

Source: PR Newswire

MONTERREY, Mexico, May 10 /PRNewswire/ -- IGNIA Fund I, LP, the first impact investing fund in Latin America, announced today that it has invested US$4 million in Finestrella S.A.P.I. de C.V. ("Finestrella"), an innovative pioneer in mobile telephony services to the low income and unbanked populations in Mexico. The investment is part of a US$7 million Series A financing round that includes, among others, Silicon Vall...
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Monday, May 10, 2010 — South Asia

A Microfinance IPO in India

Source: BusinessWeek

For years, advocates for the poor have promoted microfinance-small loans for entrepreneurs in the rural areas of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. In 2006, Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize for popularizing the idea. Now businessman Vikram Akula is betting that microfinance is good for investors, too. Akula, an ex-McKinsey & Co. consultant, is founder and chairman of SKS Microfinance, India's largest microlend...
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Monday, May 10, 2010 — North Africa and Near East

Islamic Microfinance - Best Tool for Poverty Eradication

Source: Arab News

Islamic microfinance is a nascent industry. It has spurred very few studies and fewer experiments so far. However, it has demonstrated huge potential both in terms of fighting poverty and drawing more clients mainly in developing countries. The interest-free Islamic microfinance can be defined as provision of financial services to those people who are denied access to the financial market. It empowers people who can carry out p...
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Monday, May 10, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa's Social Entrepreneurs Honoured at WEF

Source: African Manager

Five social entrepreneurs have been recognised as Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 in Africa during the 20th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa due to close here Friday. The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, an affiliate organisation of the WEF, ...
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Monday, May 10, 2010 — South Asia

Sankalp 2010 Awards Recognize Indian Social Biz in Agribusiness, Health, Education, Energy

Source: India Infoline

Over 500 participants including business leaders, social entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, philanthropists and experts attend India's largest Social Enterprise and Investment Forum in Mumbai. The Sankalp 2010 Awards were announced in a grand Awards Ceremony at Mumbai on May 5 by a jury of prominent investors, funders and experts. The Awards Ceremony was attended by over 500 delegates, includin...
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Monday, May 10, 2010 — No Region Specified

World's First Microinsurance Fund Announces Major New Investors

Source: PR Newswire

WASHINGTON , May 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the world's first microinsurance fund, LeapF...
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Thursday, May 6, 2010 — No Region Specified

Profit With A Purpose: Microinsurance Fund Logs Record Investments


An announcement from global microinsurance fund LeapFrog Investments today affirmed the potential of microinsurance as a business proposition , as opposed to a charitable enterprise. LeapFrog announced its final close on $137 million for investments in Africa and Asia. Major new investors include J.P. MOrgan, TIAA-CREF and Porparco, as...
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010 — South Asia

Telco to Help Rural Majority Access Banking Services

Source: Bangkok Post

Telenor Pakistan, the country's number two mobile operator, has recently purchased a bank and is now using its banking license through its network of franchisees and top-up agents to offer banking services to Pakistan's largely unbanked population, with savings, insurance and international remittance soon to follow. Known as EasyPaisa, the idea by Telenor and the State Bank of Pakistan is to find a sustainable, profitable new banking mo...
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010 — South Asia

Indian Government: Corporate Involvement Crucial for Rural Policy Implementation

Source: Economic Times

NEW DELHI: Profit-making corporate involvement is inherently crucial to policies that aim at unlocking the full potential of rural India, but it comes in tandem with accountability on quality standards for services provided, the Centre acknowledged here on Tuesday, at an ...
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010 — No Region Specified

Citi?s Work and Future Strategies in Microfinance

Source: Microfinance Focus

Microfinance Focus , May 4, 2010: Microfinance Focus has taken an exclusive interview with Robert Annibale, Citi Foundation's Global Director of Microfinance, and Pam Flaherty, Director of Citi Corporate Citizenship and CEO and President of the Citi Foundation who speaks extensively...
Wednesday, May 5, 2010 — Sub-Saharan Africa

A Commercial Approach to Slum Education in Kenya

Source: Ratio Magazine

It is a highly standardised, tightly managed, commercially run model: Bridge Academies International aim to 'become the Walmart in primary education' to provide quality education in slum neighbourhoods. Free Primary Education (FPE) was going to be one of President Mwai Kibaki's legacy projects, and its initial announcement had been widely welcomed. But it has lost a lot of its shine recently following allegations that large part of its budget allocations could ...
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