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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
Thursday, June 30, 2011 — No Region Specified

Mobile Banking to Help 2 Billion People by 2020: Study

Source: Reuters

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Mobile financial services are expected to improve the lives of around 2 billion people in developing countries within a decade and boost economies, a Boston Consulting Group study found. "Overall, mobile financial services can reduce financial exclusion by 5 percent to 20 percent through 2020 and increase gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 5 percent, with Pakistan, for instance, potentially seeing a 3 percent uplift," the study said. It added that imp...
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Thursday, June 30, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Nestl? to Continue (BoP) Expansion in Philippines

Source: Inquirer.net

Consumer goods giant Nestlé Philippines Inc. will be investing more in the country in the coming years, in a bid to offer new products to more markets, particularly consumers on the extreme top and bottom of the economic pyramid. In an interview with the Inquirer on Thursday, Nestlé Philippines chairman and chief executive John Martin Miller said the company, while already serving a wide spectrum of Filipino consumers, still had markets that were largely untapped. "W...
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Thursday, June 30, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The Universal Charger for Just About Any Gadget Battery

Source: The Atlantic

ASPEN -- If you can pry the lithium ion battery out of your device, you can probably charge it with Fenix International's noteworthy USB charger. And you won't need an annoying adapter, either. The company developed the charger for use in Uganda and other developing world countries. It's part of a whole suite of products Fenix designed to help local people to become one-stop electricity providers. But you can use it yourself, too. At the bottom of this post, you can see the ...
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011 — Latin America

7.5 Lakh Families to Benefit from Cemex?s Housing Microfinance Program

Source: Microfinance Focus

Patrimonio Hoy, the housing microfinance program of CEMEX, is expanding its lending program to low-income families in Mexico and four other Latin American countries with a partial credit guarantee of up to $10 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). As many as 750,000 families are expected to benefit over the next five years through this project. Patrimonio Hoy is one of Latin America's social enterprises that provide low-income families earning of less than four tim...
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 — South Asia

How NextDrop is Using Cell Phones, Crowdsourcing to Get Water to the Thirsty

Source: Fast Company

In many cities in developing countries, residents have piped water supplies. But there's a catch: the water is only available through the pipes for a few hours at a time, and people have no way of knowing when that will be. As a result, residents (mostly women and the poor) spend their days just waiting for the water to arrive. NextDrop , one of the winners of the Knigh...
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

How Africa Can Extract Big Benefits for Everyone from Natural Resources

Source: Guardian.co.uk

As the Natural Resource Charter holds its third annual workshop at the University Oxford, in the UK, this week, the combination of rising commodity prices and falling costs of communication technology presents Africa with an unprecedented opportunity to reduce poverty and fight corruption at the same time. T...
TAGS:startup
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 — South Asia

Milk Storage Unit Uses Sun to Keep Cool

Source: Boston.com

Got chilled milk? That's the unofficial slogan for Boston-based Promethean Power Systems, a company that this month received a grant from the National Science Foundation to further develop its innovative milk refrigeration system. Promethean's target market is India, though it plans to expand to Africa and Latin America as soon as February. India is the world's largest producer and consumer of milk; the country is home to some 70 million farmers who contribute to a mul...
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011 — South Asia

Will Indian IT Companies' Business Model Become Stagnant?

Source: The Economic Times

BANGALORE: Indian IT companies, which rode the outsourcing wave to become large corporations, may lag a bit while becoming sustainable corporations that create fortune "with" the bottom of the pyramid, says management guru Stuart L Hart . The American academic who was in town recently, says: "From what I can see, there is a little bit of self-satisfaction and comfort with the current model. Maybe they are getting stuck in the outsourcing model like that is the endgame. But it is...
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 — No Region Specified

To Profit or Not to Profit. Is That the Question?

Source: Guardian.co.uk

I've been working in social business now for around fifteen years. I started out volunteering for a fairtrade social enterprise in Leeds. Except it didn't call itself a social enterprise because the term hadn't yet made it that far up north. We were a not-for-profit, and proud of it. I remember the pride I felt in telling people that we were not-for-profit. It was shorthand for "we're the good guys". Privately I would question the motives of some of the people in the wor...
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Monday, June 27, 2011 — Latin America

Rio Reborn: The Favela Where Cosmetics Reps Have Replaced Drug Gangs

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Miriam Pereira da Lima, 29, sheds tears as she watches her daughter dancing in the square while children ride past on bikes and fly kites. "Until a few months ago kids didn't play out on the streets," she says, still adjusting to life after the pacificação, when the Brazilian army and police moved into the Complexo do Alemão, one of Rio de Janeiro's infamous favelas, and drove out the drug gangs. With peace on the streets, business opportunities are on the r...
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Monday, June 27, 2011 — South Asia

MFIs See Sharp Erosion in Loans, Net Worth

Source: livemint.com

Mumbai: Afew large microfinance institutions (MFIs) are trying to cope with a funding squeeze that followed a crisis after Andhra Pradesh introduced a stringent law governing microlenders nearly eight months ago, which saw assets of some MFIs drop by at least one-fourth. Bhartiya Samruddhi Finance Ltd (BSFL), for instance, is focusing on fee income to tide over the crisis, and SKS Microfinance Ltd plans to diversify its business and start offering gold loans in a big way. Most MFI...
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Monday, June 27, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

World Bank Offers Farmers Money to Hedge Against Volatile Food Prices

Source: Guardian.co.uk

The World Bank has teamed up with JP Morgan to offer farmers and food manufacturers in poor countries access to financial derivatives to hedge their risk from volatile food prices. Two other banks, one in sub-Saharan Africa and one in Europe with Middle East partnerships, as yet unidentified, are expected to launch similar products with the World Bank shortly. Excessive speculation ...
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Monday, June 27, 2011 — No Region Specified

'$300 Home Is Not Just Viable But Also Profitable'

Source: Hindustan Times

Name: Christian Sarkar Current location: on the road Twitter name: @300House In 30 words or less tell us who you work for and what you do: I help individuals and institutions with disruptive ideas and solutions. The $300 House started out as a blog post with Vijay Govindarajan. Now we're going from blog to reality. Do you have a website / blog?
Monday, June 27, 2011 — No Region Specified

Some Ways to Get Started as a Social Entrepreneur

Source: The New York Times

With the economy still struggling, it may seem like an impossible time to start a do-good social venture. It can be hard enough to operate any business profitably - let alone one that also tries to improve the world. But some observers believe that the tough times may be increasing interest in social ventures."I get the sense that the ...
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Friday, June 24, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Activate 2011: Mobiles Look Set to Play a Big Role in Africa's Development

Source: Guardian.co.uk

The mobile phone will have a dramatic impact on development in Africa over the next five years, declared Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza at the Activate conference this week on technology and social change in London. The technology industry has a track record of hype, but Rajani's comments sound plausible given the huge number of pilot projects for mobiles in Africa in all areas of development. A race is on to find what...
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Friday, June 24, 2011 — No Region Specified

Beyond the Poverty Trap

Source: Business Standard

Is there an answer to the Biblical question why the poor will always be with us? Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, both developmental economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have now come with their take on this perennial question in Poor Economics: A Radical Thinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty (Random House, Rs 499). Their book, which is based on field studies and extensive interviews with the poor in the villages of India, Indonesia, Morocco, Kenya and oth...
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Thursday, June 23, 2011 — No Region Specified

The Bottom of the Pyramid

Source: The Economist

MANAGEMENT gurus have rhapsodised about "the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid" in emerging markets ever since C.K. Prahalad popularised the idea in 2006. They have filled books with stories of cut-price Indian hospitals and Chinese firms that make $100 computers. But when it comes to the bottom of the pyramid in the rich world, the gurus lose interest. This is understandable. McDonald's and Walmart do not have the same exotic ring as Aravind Eye Care and Tata Motors. The West...
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Thursday, June 23, 2011 — South Asia

Plans Don't Work for Urban Poor?

Source: The Times of India

VARANASI: Though there are provisions for poverty alleviation in urban areas, a number of urban poor and slum dwellers in Varanasi are bound to face financial hardships. However, officials claim things are improving with the implementation of programmes. "It is difficult to manage household expenses for people like us," said Gopal, a daily wager. Like him, there are a number of people living mostly in slum...
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Thursday, June 23, 2011 — South Asia

Eko: The Mobile Bank for Low Income Customers

Source: The Mobile Indian

Eko is a low cost mobile banking solution for people in the low income groups. It is just the right service for India, where the workforce is 540 million-strong. Only about six per cent of these workers are employed in the organized sectors. The low cost mobile banking company Eko aims to serve the unorganized segments of our economy. Eko was founded in 2009 with the aim to reduce the cost of financial transactions. The reason? The bigger banks used to target only higher income group cu...
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Thursday, June 23, 2011 — North Africa and Near East

Going Mobile: Egypt Gears Up for Cellphone Banking

Source: Ahram Online

Hani swears his wages were under the satellite box. They were just 400 Egyptian pounds (US$67) -- payment for a month of piecemeal work rigging TV dishes in the northern Cairo district of Shubra El-Kheima - but now they'd gone. Sitting in his dank single room, located up a muddy alley a half-hour's walk from any major commercial enterprise, Hani toys with the broken padlock from his door and vows to find a safer place for his money. At 36 years old Hani has never had...
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Roads and Rice: How Innovation and Infrastructure Can Feed the World

Source: Guardian.co.uk

As a new diplomat in 1968, I was assigned not to the chandeliered ballrooms of Europe (as I had hoped) but to the Mekong Delta of Vietnam , as a rural development adviser. The green revolution was just beginning to spread around the world, and a new "miracle rice", known as IR-8, developed at the International Ric...
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011 — South Asia

Bottom of the Pyramid Is Not Only About Low-cost Products, Says Stuart Hart

Source: The Times of India

BANGALORE: It has been a little more than a decade since the late management guru C K Prahlad and Cornell professor Stuart Hart introduced the concept of the fortune at the bottom the pyramid. It deals with how companies can profitably target the huge mass of consumers at the low-income and below the poverty line (BPL) level. Hart now admits t...
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011 — No Region Specified

FINCA Int?l Announces Launch of FINCA Microfinance Holdings

Source: Microfinance Focus

Microfinance organization FINCA International (FINCA), recently announced the launch of a subsidiary called FINCA Microfinance Holdings, LLC (FMH). FMH, will strike a balance between attracting capital needed for expansion and protecting the integrity of FINCA's charitable mission. It is also expected to help FINCA nearly double its client base to 1.5 million people across its network of 21 programs in Africa, Latin America, Eurasia and the Greater Middle East, while maintaining its...
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Can Matt Damon Bring Clean Water to Africa?

Source: Fast Company

Once upon a time, Matt Damon went for a long walk in rural Zambia. The devoted family man and method philanthropist was accompanying a 14-year-old Zambian girl who had no idea that her hiking companion was an Academy Award-winning international heartthrob. The walk came toward the end of a 10-day African journey, a systematic primer on the complexities of the continent's extreme poverty that had been organized for Damon by staffers from his friend Bono's ONE campaign. Damon was ...
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 — South Asia

AP Govt Sends Proposal for Microfinance NBFC to Centre

Source: Moneycontrol.com

The Andhra Pradesh government has sent proposals to the Centre to start a non-banking financial institution to meet microfinance requirements of the state's poor people, a senior state official said today. The proposed non-banking finance company (NBFC) will charge an interest of 15% against 24 to 26% being charged by private MFIs in the state, Reddy Subrahmanyam, principal secretary, rural development said. "The proposals have been sent and we are awaiting the Centre's no...
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 — South Asia

Unitus Labs, Unitus Impact Partner Over Livelihood Support Venture for Poor

Source: Microfinance Focus

Unitus Labs recently announced that it will support an initiative to build income-generating opportunities for millions of people battling poverty. Unitus Labs will partner with Unitus Impact Partners LLC (Unitus Impact), a new impact investing firm focused on livelihood acceleration for the base of the economic pyramid (BoP) in Asia and Africa, to implement this initiative. Unitus Impact will focus on supporting livelihoods ventures with the early stage ventures that require equi...
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Monday, June 20, 2011 — South Asia

Bottom of Pyramid Moves to 2.0 Version

Source: The Times of India

BANGALORE: The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), a dominant idea in business, will now move into a 2.0 framework. The concept in its original shape dealt with how large corporations can develop products for low-income and below the poverty line (BPL) customers for profit. Around 400 million people in India live below $1.25 per day. BOP 2.0 goes a step further in calling for co-creation of products with communities th...
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Monday, June 20, 2011 — Latin America

IDB Offers $25 Million Loan to Raise Farmer?s Productivity in Peru

Source: Microfinance Focus

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently offered a $25 million loan to increase productivity and exports of farmers in Peru. The program will directly benefit about 14,000 producers participating in the Program of Compensation for Competitiveness, over the next four years, of which an estimated 42 percent are women. The program aims to raise farmers' productivity by 10 percent and increase the value of their products in domestic and foreign markets by 20 percent by the end...
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Monday, June 20, 2011 — South Asia

The WaterWheel Makes Clean Water Cheaper, Easier to Carry

Source: Fast Company

Not everyone can just turn on the tap to access clean water; in the developing world, women regularly carry five-gallon, 42-pound buckets of water on their heads. The Hippo Water Roller, a device that allows users to easily roll 24 gallons of water along the ground, has made life easier for over 30,000 people in the past 15 years--while becoming something of a ...
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Monday, June 20, 2011 — South Asia

Orb Energy, Acumen Fund Announce Partnership to Address Energy Needs for Millions in India

Source: Acumen Fund

Mumbai, India, June 20, 2011 - Orb Energy Pte Ltd. (Orb) , one of India's leading providers of solar energy systems, and Acumen Fund , a nonprofit global venture firm addressing poverty in South Asia and East Africa, today announced a partnership to address energy needs for millions of Indians without reliable electricity. Acumen Fund is making a significant e...
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Friday, June 17, 2011 — South Asia

NextWealth: Creating a Next Wave in India's IT and BPO Industry

Source: India Knowledge@Wharton

During the early days of the Indian information technology outsourcing industry, Sridhar Mitta's biggest challenge was convincing American companies that India was a viable destination to send their work. Mitta was with Wipro, at the time a fledging IT division of a vegetable oil company. He was, in fact, the very first employee of the company's IT business and later went on to become its chief technology officer and president of the global research and development business. During Mi...
Friday, June 17, 2011 — No Region Specified

Does Microfinance for Profit Hurt Women?

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The commercialization of microfinance has been blamed for a lot of troubling trends, from prompting the clampdown in Andhra Pradesh to muddying the industry's benign image as a development tool to help the poor. But one impact that has been largely overlooked is its impact on women. One of the hallowed truths about microlending has been that it works best when loans are made to women, a...
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Thursday, June 16, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Slideshow: Inzozi Nziza, a Social Enterprise, Creates a Market for Ice Cream in Rwanda

Source: Dowser

It's an unlikely place for an ice cream shop, and an even more unlikely batch of people to be running it. Inzozi Nziza, or "Sweet Dreams" in Kinyarwanda, is Rwanda's first and only local ice cream shop. Located in the small university town of Butare, it celebrated its one year anniversary this week. While its struggles have been great, from importing a soft-serve ice cream machine into this tiny landlocked country where only one person knows (kind-of) how to fix it,&...
Thursday, June 16, 2011 — No Region Specified

Embrace Warms Up Premature Babies At the Bottom of the Pyramid

Source: Forbes

A mother living in a rural village outside of Bangalore, India gives birth to a baby two months prematurely. Her family cannot afford to go to the city hospital in Bangalore, so her husband, who raises silkworms that he warms under lamps, decides to care for the baby in the same way. A few day later, their baby dies. Stopping this tragedy - there are 20 million low birth weight and premature babies born each year - is the primary mission of Embrac...
Thursday, June 16, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Energy is Central to Development

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Energy , it seems, is the Cinderella of development policy. Listen to governments, aid agencies and the big foundations, and the priorities have been malaria, maternal mortality, vaccinations, HIV - health has hoovered up attention and aid dollars in the last decade. Education has come a close second. Now attention is slowly moving to include agriculture and food security, but the rhetoric is ...
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 — No Region Specified

'Buy Local' Program Aims to Boost Value of Aid to Haiti

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

One week after the devastating quake that struck Haiti in January 2010, journalist Mark Danner wrote a New York Times op-ed that warned the outpouring of international sympathy and support, although remarkable, would buoy unrealistic expectations about the prospe...
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa's Women Mean Business ? But They Need Finance

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Inclusion was the big theme of the African Development Bank annual meeting in Lisbon last week, an acknowledgement that impressive economic growth numbers don't tell the whole story. As the president of the AfDB, Donald Kaberuka, acknowledged at the start of proceedings, the bank had got it wrong in Tunisia and Egypt - although as one bank official pointed out, good things had been accomplished in Tunisia by President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in ...
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 — No Region Specified

HBS Cases: Mobile Banking for the Unbanked

Source: Harvard Business School

In many developing countries it's common for a person to have a mobile phone but not a bank account. In fact, more than 1 billion people fit this description, and the number is only likely to increase. To that end, many companies are considering how to give residents access to banking services via their handsets. The GSM Association predicts that by 2012, nearly 300 million of the previously "unbanked" will be using some form of mobile bank...
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Counterintuitive Innovation that Works: Five Takeways from Stima Systems at SOCAP

Source: Dowser

"We don't sell our products, we don't market them, and we don't take them to our clients" - CEO Konrad App of micro-leasing solar energy company Stima Systems . Showcasing at the SOCAP/Europe conference last week, members of the Stima team, Konrad App, Matt Jervis, Homayoon Shahinfar and James Kimisoi, caught my attention with their counterintuitive yet su...
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 — South Asia

Stirred, But Not Shaken

Source: Business Today

Vikram Akula 's SKS Microfinance , once the showcase company of the Indian microfinance sector, is having to re-design its business as well as salvage its reputation. Less than a year ago, in August 2010, the company w...
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Monday, June 13, 2011 — No Region Specified

Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise Announces BoP Essay Contest Winners

Source: Johnson.cornell.edu

The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Johnson at Cornell University is pleased to announce the winners of its fourth annual Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Short Essay Competition. Sponsored by USAID and International Finance Corporation (IFC), the competition highlights the challenges of doing business in underserved markets and identifies innovative business experiments or solutions for those challenges. "The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise promotes applied resear...
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Monday, June 13, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Bill Gates Funds Human Waste To Biofuel Project In Ghana

Source: Fast Company

Waste to fuel facilities are nothing new--in the past few years, we've seen chicken poop-powered fuel cell plants , a scheme to use astronaut poop for fuel in space, and a ...
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Monday, June 13, 2011 — No Region Specified

Vaccines Need to Reach the Poor in Middle-income Countries Too

Source: Guardian.co.uk

The world's top aid donors met on Monday in London to replenish the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), netting a remarkable $4.3bn in the midst of a historic recession, to scale up immunisation programmes in the run-up to 2015 and the mill...
TAGS:solar
Monday, June 13, 2011 — No Region Specified

Donors Promise $4 Billion To Global Vaccines Body

Source: Associated Press/NPR

Donors promised to give a global vaccines body more than $4 billion to help it protect millions of children from diseases like measles, pneumonia and yellow fever. At a one-day pledging conference in London on Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the U.K. would provide 814 million pounds ($1.3 billion) of new funding up to 2015. Australia announced on Sunday it would commit $211 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and the Bill & Meli...
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Friday, June 10, 2011 — No Region Specified

Samasource Taps Silicon Valley to Create Jobs for Poor People

Source: Forbes

Forget microfinance. Leila Chiriyath Janah is betting that "microwork" can be an even more successful route to alleviate poverty. Samasource, her three year old San Francisco nonprofit, has found simple computer-based work for 1,200 people living in poverty in Kenya, India, Pakistan, Haiti, Uganda and South Africa. The paying clients? Technology companies like LinkedIn, Intuit and Google. "We're creating an entirely new type of company," says Janah. By providing work to those who...
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Friday, June 10, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Closing the Loop between Sanitation and Food Security for the ?Base of the Pyramid?

Source: American Chronicle

If consumers in the advanced Western economies have a hard time swallowing the idea of drinking water recycled from sewage, that may be nothing compared with what those in the Philippines have to go through when they consider eating foods raised from fertilizer recycled from human wastes. But that´s exactly what a local foundation based in the boondocks of Mindanao has been advocating, and is now actively looking for "technology off-takers" who are willing to partner with t...
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Friday, June 10, 2011 — No Region Specified

Study: Microcredit can be Bane, Not Boon to Self-esteem of Poor

Source: Reuters

BOSTON (Reuters)- Microcredit lending, which advocates say helps poor entrepreneurs in developing countries succeed and gain confidence, may have little impact on profits and even take a toll on borrowers' well-being, a new study showed. Recipients of the small scale loans, typically between $100 to $500, instead reported lower levels of overall well-being, including satisfaction and self esteem, than those denied the loans, according to the study by economists Dean Karlan of Yale U...
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Friday, June 10, 2011 — No Region Specified

Social Entrepreneurs: Making An Impact

Source: Forbes Development Wire

Want to advance social development? Hire and invest locally, says Tal Dehtiar, founder of Oliberté ...
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Thursday, June 09, 2011 — South Asia

Tata Nano Enters Sri Lanka Taxi Market

Source: The Economic Times

COLOMBO: Tata Nano, billed as the world's cheapest car , entered Sri Lanka's taxi market on Thursday, billed as a more comfortable and safer alternative to rickety three-wheel auto rickshaws. A local company said it was launching a service with 45 cabs with plans to increase the fleet to 200 within six months. Sri Lanka became the car's first foreign market late last month. The service is pitched at a lower price than air-conditioned cabs and as a bette...
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Thursday, June 09, 2011 — No Region Specified

Visa Acquires Mobile Financial Services Company Fundamo For $110M

Source: TechCrunch

Visa this morning announced that it has agreed to acquire Fundamo , a specialist mobile financial services provider to network operators and financial institutions in developing economies, for $110 million in ca...
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Thursday, June 09, 2011 — South Asia

In India, Dynamism Wrestles With Dysfunction

Source: The New York Times

GURGAON, India - In this city that barely existed two decades ago, there are 26 shopping malls, seven golf courses and luxury shops selling Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs shimmer in automobile showrooms. Apartment towers are sprouting like concrete weeds, and a futuristic commercial hub called Cyber City houses many of the world's most respected corporations. Gurgaon, located about 15 miles south of the national capital, New Delhi, would seem to have everything, ...
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011 — Europe & Eurasia

Bill Drayton receives Prince of Asturias Award in International Cooperation

Source: Ashoka.org

Oviedo, Spain - June 8, 2011. Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in International Cooperation today, Spain's highest honor and Nobel equivalent. An international jury deliberated over the 25 finalists from 18 different countries who were under consideration for this award, before making the announcement live via satellite. Recipients are awarded 50,000 euros, a specially commissioned Joan Miró sculpture, a di...
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011 — South Asia

The $300 House: A Hands-On Approach to a Wicked Problem

Source: Harvard Business Review

When the New York Times printed " Hands Off Our Houses ," an op-ed about our idea for a $300 House for the poor, we were both delighted and dismayed - delighted because the $300 House was being discussed, and dismayed because authors Matias Echanove and Rahul Srivastava, co-founders of the Institute of Urbanology , didn't seemed to have read the series of blog posts about our id...
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 — Latin America

ACCION Brings Microfinance to Manaus, Brazil

Source: Microfinance Focus

ACCION International inaugurated on Tuesday a new microfinance institution, ACCION Microfinancas in Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas in Brazil's northern region which is a largely underserved microfinance market. ACCION Microfinancas, which launched unofficially when it began lending operations on February 1st of this year, has Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) among its co-investors....
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011 — South Asia

Paper Gains on Early Investment in SKS Microfinance Largely Evaporate for Sequoia Capital

Source: MicroCapital.org

Since its initial investment in SKS Microfinance, an India-based microfinance institution (MFI), Sequoia Capital, a US-based venture capital firm, has experienced significant gains on paper followed by partial losses of those gains. Before other venture capital firms were investing in SKS, Sequoia invested USD 11.5 million in the MFI [1]. By the end of 2008, venture capital firms had invested a total of USD 75 million in SKS [1]. SKS went public in July 2010, and its share price reached...
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011 — Latin America

Former U-M Students Help Honduran Farming Community Make Coffee More 'Local'

Source: AnnArbor.com

After several service trips to the mountainous villages of La Union, Honduras, former University of Michigan student Andrew Boyd was inspired. He wanted to do more, but wasn't sure how he could make an impact. His passion led to a microfinance organization that focused on something the people of La Union already knew - coffee. And now thanks to his efforts, the Honduran farming community gets a rebirth, and Ann Arbor is d...
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011 — No Region Specified

GAVI Unveils New Vaccine Price Reduction Deals

Source: Devex

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization said June 6 that it had secured commitments from four pharmaceutical companies to lower prices of the vaccines they manufacture. GAVI said Panacea Biotec had committed to cut down its prices by up to 15 percent, while Serum Institute, which had already reduced its prices to $1.75 per dose, had pledged to continue providing the mo...
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011 — South Asia

From Victims to Entrepreneurs

Source: The Times of India

JAIPUR: A 23-year-old victim of domestic violence, Sudha Sharma, (name changed) of Jaipur is learning basics of social entrepreneurship at a workshop organised by an NGO - Centre for Social Development (CSD) in the city. Until a few months ago, she was physically assault by her inlaws but now she lives separately and is planning to open a small tailoring unit here. Like Sudha, there are 29 other ...
Tuesday, June 07, 2011 — South Asia

The End May Be Nigh for Microfinance in India

Source: Wall Street Journal - India Realtime

Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbarao said a few weeks ago that "hopefully, sooner rather than later" there will be national rules governing microfinance institutions that would trump the law imposed by Andhra Pradesh last year that has gutted the business model of private microcredit companies. Mark Stoleson, chief executive officer of Legatum, a Dubai-based investor in the industry, was in Delhi this week with a warning: Act now, or face what he termed a "Lehman Brothers at ...
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Monday, June 06, 2011 — Latin America

Brazil Launches Drive to Lift 16 Mln from Poverty

Source: Reuters

BRASILIA, June 2 (Reuters) - President Dilma Rousseff launched an ambitious plan on Thursday to eliminate dire poverty in Brazil within four years by lifting more than 16 million people from conditions of "misery." The "Brazil Without Misery" program is the signature policy of the former leftist guerrilla's first term, her advisers said, fulfilling one of the key promises she made in her campaign for ...
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Monday, June 06, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Garbage Disposal Innovation Wins Kenyan Firm Sh4.2 Million Award

Source: Business Daily

A local garbage disposal concept has won the Dell Social Innovation Award for 2011, the latest conquest by a Kenyan firm in the world of innovations with high social impact. TakaTaka Solutions, a social enterprise that collects and recycles waste in Nairobi, won the Sh4.2 million top prize in the global competition for its waste management solution, and will use the money to bankroll its recycling programme. "The team exemplifies ingenuity, passion and entrepreneurial spirit. The ...
Monday, June 06, 2011 — South Asia

PepsiCo Will Cater to Different Segments of Consumers

Source: Financial Times

NEW DELHI: Beverage and snacks maker PepsiCo India is gunning for the bottom-of-the-pyramid consumer for the first time in the country, as its chairman, Manu Anand , drives the New York-based $60 billion parent's target to reach the 'next one billion' consumers in the value segment. In his first media interaction since he succeeded Sanjeev Chadha in January this year, Anand tells ET that PepsiCo is creating verticals to cater to different segments of consumers, ac...
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Friday, June 03, 2011 — No Region Specified

PoverUp Kick-Starts Microfinance One $200 Ice Cream Outing at a Time

Source: Forbes

You probably know that a little money in the U.S. could go a really long way in a poor country. But when a Westchester, New York high school student saw that a $200 5-year-old birthday party outing to the movies with friends was equal to the amount of the typical microloan, a light went on in her head. Charlie Javice, a half-French equestrienne who took early admission to the Wharton School (class of 2014), used that insight to co-found, with her brother El...
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Friday, June 03, 2011 — South Asia

Hands Off Our Houses

Source: The New York Times

Mumbai, India: LAST summer, a business professor and a marketing consultant wrote on The Harvard Business Review's Web site about their idea for a $300 house . According to the writers, and the many people who have enthusiastically responded since, such a house could improve the lives of millions of urban poor around the world. And with a $424 billion market for cheap...
Friday, June 03, 2011 — South Asia

Fighting the Taliban One Irrigation Project at a Time

Source: Slate.com

JALALABAD, Afghanistan-When Chris Corsten describes his job, he starts from space and zooms into the eastern hemisphere of the world, down into Central Asia, and then into Afghanistan, using Google Earth. In one of the country's rural districts, nestled in mountains and riverbeds, are hundreds of colored dots representing construction sites. If Corsten moves his cursor over one of these dots, a geo-tagged photograph showing Afghan men building walls or mixing cement appears. If he display...
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Thursday, June 02, 2011 — North Africa and Near East

Electrifying Entrepreneur: The Founder of Afriq-Power is Upgrading Mali

Source: Wired.co.uk

Daniel Dembélé wants to electrify Africa . Trouble is, so do foreign multinationals. For the past five years, the 31-year-old Malian social entrepreneur has been trying to keep one step ahead. In 2006, he installed locally produced solar panels in a school in Banko, Mali. With children able to study after dark for the first tim...
Thursday, June 02, 2011 — South Asia

Pak to be Leading Recipient of UKAID Next Year

Source: Business Recorder

KARACHI: Pakistan will be biggest development programme partner of UKAID next year, said Andrew Mitchells, UK Secretary of State for Department of International Development (DFID). "The biggest development partnership programme that Britain will have next year in the world will be in Pakistan and it is designed to help children get into the schools," he said after inaugurating a mobile banking franchise of private mobile telephone company here on Wednesday in cooperation with Tameer-e-P...
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Thursday, June 02, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Safaricom ? 56% Growth in M-PESA Revenue

Source: Mobile-Financial.com

Last week, Safaricom announced its annual results [1] . It has confirmed an increased turnover (+12.9% to Ksh. 94.83bn). However, after several years of sustained growth, Safaricom experienced a 12.4% drop in profits before tax due to increased competition. Nevertheless, a more interesting figure to highlight is the 56% growth in M-PESA revenue for the year 2011. With almost 14 mil...
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011 — No Region Specified

Microfinance for Water and Sanitation: Lofty Dream or Wave of the Future?

Source: Microfinance Focus

The microfinance sector is certainly not short of innovative thinkers, who should be applauded for their determination to use microfinance as a diverse tool that can do more than just increase a household's income. The latest craze in the creative use of microfinance as a generator of positive externalities is the use of microcredit for the provision of clean water. The idea is to provide individuals and households in the developing world with microcredit services that would a...
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011 — South Asia

LeapFrog to Invest up to $40 Million in India

Source: The Wall Street Journal

MUMBAI --LeapFrog Investments, a $135 million fund focused on micro-insurance, is looking to deploy as much as $40 million in India. "India presents an opportunity as the level of penetration of insurance is very low," said Jim Roth, the company's co-founder and partner. In other markets, insurance is for the wealthy, whereas in India there is insurance that focuses on the mass market, he said, adding that LeapFrog will invest between $5 million and $20 million in a company. M...
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011 — Latin America

Major Microlaboratory Against Poverty

Source: IPSnews.net

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 31, 2011 (IPS) - Microcredit in Brazil still has huge potential for expansion, even though microloans have already grown much more than traditional credit in the last eight years. Microcredit has formed a successful part of anti-poverty programmes since left-wing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office in January 2003 and immediately launched the National Productive Microcredit Programme, targeting low-income households. ...
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