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Friday, July 29, 2011 — No Region Specified

International Aid: Millions Awarded for Innovations to Save Lives of Mothers and Children at Birth

Source: ABC News

About $14 million was awarded to innovations aimed at saving the lives of mothers and children around the world Thursday in a landmark event hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. " Saving Lives at Birth ," the first in a series of Grand Challenges for Development led by the U.S. Agency for International Development, brought together doctors, health workers, engineers and entrepreneu...
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Friday, July 29, 2011 — No Region Specified

Disruptive Startups That Don't Get Funded

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Coca-Cola ( KO ) sells millions of bottles of its fizzy sugar water in the poorest villages of the world at 15¢ to 25¢ per bottle-prices locals can barely afford. What would happen to the multinational's business if a well-funded Chinese soft drink startup decided to crash that market with a sweet but relatively nutritious beverage it sold for 5¢ a bottle? Coke would most likely ge...
TAGS:scale
Friday, July 29, 2011 — South Asia

Working With GE to Develop Products for Rural India: MART

Source: MSN News

New Delhi, Jul 29 (PTI) Consultancy firm MART today said it is working with US-based diversified giant GE to develop affordable healthcare products for the Indian rural market. The firm that advises big firms such as HUL, Shell, Colgate, Heinz, Intel and John Deere, said it is currently helping GE in developing a host of products, including baby warmers and products to treat cardiac problems. "We are working with GE to develop very affordable healthcare products for rural India," ...
TAGS:scale
Thursday, July 28, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

'Africa Can Feed the World'

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Africa can feed not just itself but the world is a bold assertion to make at a time when famine stalks part of the continent. But this is precisely the claim made by Kanayo Nwanze, the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (...
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Thursday, July 28, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Avon's Door-to-Door Model Adopted in Uganda

Source: American Public Media

Steve Chiotakis: Cosmetic-maker Avon releases earnings today. Analysts expect it to at least match profits from a year ago. In Uganda, a U.S. organization is using Avon's door-to-door model to help consumers get the products they need, but often are unavailable to the -- and this month that service is expanding. The BBC's Anna Cavell reports from Kampala, Uganda. Anna Cavell: With a $75 loan, women in Uganda are being turned into en...
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011 — South Asia

?Affordable Housing is Not Possible in Mumbai or Delhi?

Source: Moneylife

Vishnu Swaminathan, director of Ashoka Foundation which is undertaking a low-cost housing initiative for the poor, believes that such projects are not possible in the major metros where land costs are too high and delays add to the cost The government estimates that the country will see a shortage of 26.53 million homes by 2012. Ashoka Foundation, the global association of social entrepreneurs for change, has in one of its several initiatives, launched low...
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011 — South Asia

Debate on the Role of Growth and Redistribution in Poverty Alleviation in India

Source: The Economic Times

The capacity of Indian intellectuals to argue even when they lack data either to refute the opponents' position or support their own far exceeds that of their counterparts anywhere else in the world. This means that issues that have been largely settled elsewhere remain subject of endless heated debate in India. Nothing illustrates this better than the debates on the role ofgrowth and redistribution in alleviating poverty, which go unabated in the real and virtual forums around the countr...
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011 — South Asia

India?s Oldest Microfinance Firm on the Verge of Closure

Source: livemint.com

Mumbai: The controversial Andhra Pradesh microfinance law is set to claim its first victim. Vijay Mahajan-promoted Bhartiya Samruddhi Finance Ltd (BSFL), India's oldest microfinance institution (MFI), is collapsing under the burden of bad loans. With borrowers in Andhra Pradesh refusing to repay, bad loans are growing and threatening to wipe out its entire net worth and reserves. "We are unlikely to survive beyond the next two to three months if we don't get fresh funds," ...
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

AfDB Launches Microfinance Capacity Building Fund

Source: Devex

The African Development Bank, in partnership with the government of Spain, has launched the Microfinance Capacity Building Fund - a multiyear effort to increase technical capacity building in the finance sector for the benefit of poor and low-income people in Africa. With a special focus on women and rural areas, the MCBF aims to increase transparency in A...
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Southampton Students Bring Solar Lights to Madagascar

Source: BBC

Families in Madagascar are benefiting from solar-powered lighting through a project set up by Southampton students. The University of Southampton's SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) group set up a finance scheme to reduce the cost of the lights for rural families. The Right Light scheme has meant 98 families have reduced their use of kerosene lighting. Student Michael Austin said the scheme showed how students were "creating positive change in the...
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 — South Asia

Low-cost Innovations Make Life Easier for Rural Poor

Source: Business Standard

Often, people living on the margins of society don't need path-breaking innovations to improve the quality of life. They need simple innovations that will make their daily life easier, and a number of social entrepreneurs have come up with precisely such innovations. For instance, Pune-based Ossian Agro Automation Pvt Ltd invented Nano Ganesh, a GSM mobile-based remote control system exclusively for use with water pump sets in agricultural areas. The system allows farmers to address...
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011 — Latin America

How a 100-Year-old Tortoise Helped Build a Scalable Social Enterprise

Source: Guardian.co.uk

There is no shortage of people with a vision to change the world. But how? Strategy without the proper execution is simply a dream. When met with environmental and societal issues, organisations tend to use linear thinking (give a man a fish) to identify a solution to the problem instead of taking a circular, sustainable approach (teach a man to fish) by investing in the prevention of certain situations. Take Lonesome George for example. As the last surviving tortoise of its kind, many ...
Monday, July 25, 2011 — No Region Specified

Five Lessons for the Microfinance Industry

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Microfinance is going through a crisis . The industry that gives small uncollateralized loans, often to women for entrepreneurial activities in developing countries, is booming but has been damaged by a slew of negative events. Its most famous banker, Muhummad Yunus, has been made to step down from Grameen Bank which he founded in the 1970s. In India ...
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Monday, July 25, 2011 — Latin America

IFC to Invest USD 4.6 Million in Peru?s Microfinance Institution

Source: Microfinance Focus

IFC, a private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is contributing to the capital increase of microfinance lender, Caja Nuestra Gente with an investment of US $4.6 million. The investment will help Caja Nuestra Gente expand its operations in rural areas and among low-income urban communities in Peru. Caja Nuestra Gente is owned by Spain's BBVA Microfinance Foundation (FMBBVA). In addition to this investment, IFC has also opened a medium-term local-currency loan facility to support C...
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Thursday, July 21, 2011 — No Region Specified

Record-breaking Number of Entries for eBay, Ashoka Social Innovation Competition

Source: Changemakers

SAN JOSE, Calif.-July 20, 2011- Public voting begins today at Changemakers.com to select the ten finalists in the Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a ...
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Thursday, July 21, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Encouraging Agricultural Efficiency through Microfinance: Implications for Food Security

Source: Microfinance Focus

Maybe those that work in development are sick of hearing this little factoid, but for those who are out of the loop, let's repeat it just one more time: the majority of the world's poor live in rural areas. As expected, many of these are highly dependent on agriculture, whether or not it is their primary economic activity. So if they live in communities dedicated to agricultural production, then why is it that many of them still suffer from hunger? To begin with, their own...
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Thursday, July 21, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Silicon Savanna: Mobile Phones Transform Africa

Source: Time

The buzz at Pivot25, a conference for mobile-phone software developers and investors held this June, is all about the future of money. Ben Lyon, the 24-year-old business-development VP of Kopo Kopo, wants $250,000 to produce his app for shops to process payments made by text message. Paul Okwalinga, 28, describes his money app - called M-Shop, it allows you to buy travel tickets and takeout via mobile phone - as "not reinventing the wheel but pimping it." Kamal Budhabhatti, 35, claims Elma, t...
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011 — South Asia

The $720 House That's Built in a Week and Lasts Two Decades

Source: Fast Company

The world's cheapest car is manufactured by the Tata Group. So is the cheapest water filter . Now the Indian company is setting its sights on the housing market with a $720 flatpack home that can be constructed in a week. The basic flatpack model is 215 square feet, consists of coconu...
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The New Microfinancing: SMS-Based Layaway to the Rescue

Source: Fast Company

Microfinance , the Nobel Prize-winning initiative to turn aspiring Third World entrepreneurs into self-sustaining CEOs, has long been the only game in town when it comes to offering developing world entrepreneurs a viable and sustainable form of funding. But other financial instruments may work just as well--if not better--at supplying small farmers around the world with capital and a path out of poverty. ...
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011 — No Region Specified

Bill Gates Wants to Reinvent the Toilet for the Third World

Source: Los Angeles Times

Bill Gates thinks the modern-day flush toilet isn't good enough. Most of the developing world can't afford to use it, and poor sanitation spreads diarrheal diseases. So the Gates Foundation is challenging universities to build a better toilet-latrines that are hygienic, generate energy and don't require running water or a septic system. The fo...
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Improving the Quality of Rwanda?s Milk, While Turning a Profit

Source: How We Made It In Africa

Good, quality milk is one of the most nutrient-rich natural beverages available. Containing a healthy dose of at least nine essential vitamins and minerals, milk can be, quite literally, a lifesaver for populations suffering from an extremely nutrient-poor diet in developing countries. Yet in Rwanda , where an estimated 90% of the population is still dependent on agriculture, and ...
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 — South Asia

AP Refuses to Budge on Microfinance Legislation

Source: livemint.com

Mumbai: The battle over the regulation of India's Rs. 20,000 crore microfinance industry is far from over, with Andhra Pradesh, the largest market for Indian microlenders, remaining firm on retaining its own law on the issue despite a proposed national legislation. Microfinance institutions (MFIs) extend small loans to the rural poor at higher rates than banks after sourcing money from banks. The proposal for a national MFI law "doesn't change the fact that MFIs come under...
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Omidyar, Indigo Trust to Fund Social Innovation Center in Nigeria

Source: PR Newswire

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. and LONDON, July 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Omidyar Network and The Indigo Trust announced today their support and intent to fund the Co-Creation Hub in Lagos, Nigeria. The Hub is a non-profit, social enterprise centered around a shared work space where stakeholders from multiple walks of Nigerian life come together to collaboratively create tech-based solutions that address social challenges facing Nigerian society. It will be Nigeria's fi...
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Monday, July 18, 2011 — South Asia

Muhammad Yunus Banks on Beating the Enemies of Microfinance

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Muhammad Yunus is good at being calm. At 7.30am in a chilly office in central London, he talks with urbane charm and all the dispassionate objectivity of a philosopher as he considers the Bangladeshi government's campaign against him, and the possibility that it might destroy his life's work building up the world's first ...
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Monday, July 18, 2011 — No Region Specified

Investment Driven by Guilt, and That?s Good

Source: MarketWatch

By Thomas Kostigen SANTA MONICA, Calif. (MarketWatch) - Are we increasingly investing out of guilt? I'd say so. Look at the amount of money that has flowed into socially responsible funds: $3 trillion, up 34% since 2005, according to the Social Investment Forum. Got a social conscience? Feel guilty? Invest your conscience away. It's the 21st century version of the selling of indulgences. More money is flowing into "good" investments than ever. Take the lo...
Monday, July 18, 2011 — North Africa and Near East

Arab Spring, Start-Up Summer?

Source: The New York Times

Like so many other young people in Cairo, Yasmine el-Mehairy saw no future in Egypt . What she saw was a dead end. Then came Tahrir Square. Six months after an uprising led by people like her ousted Hosni Mubarak and overturned the established order of the Arab world, Ms. Mehairy has joined the ranks of Egypt'...
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Friday, July 15, 2011 — South Asia

Fairfax Enters India to Invest in Local Firms

Source: livemint.com

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, a $30 billion (Rs.1.3 trillion)-plus diversified financial services company that owns stakes in Kraft Foods Inc. and Dell Inc., is entering India to invest in listed and unlisted Indian companies, a senior company official said. It will buy both minority as well as controlling stakes. Founded by Indian-born Prem Watsa , 61, popularly known as the Warren Buffett of Canada, Fairfax has appointed Harsha Raghavan, former India head of private equ...
Friday, July 15, 2011 — No Region Specified

TED Fellows and Social Entrepreneurship?s Middle Ages

Source: Inc. Tech

Our collective imagination of the European Middle Ages conjures an age of darkness, disease, war, feudalism and feuding. The true story is much more complicated. Indeed, the Medieval era was a necessary period of challenge and experimentation - a period in which political systems evolved and in which understanding of the natural world struggled move from mysticism to science. It was an era that, although challenging, prepared the Western World for Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, and Enlig...
Friday, July 15, 2011 — No Region Specified

Real Change Requires Politics

Source: The New York Times

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - Every now and then, a new career path seizes the imagination of the global elite. Today it is social enterprise, in which earnest, problem-solving elites devote themselves to social causes, using the ethos and methods of business. In the 2000s, investment banking and consulting had a near-duopoly on the top I.Q.'s. We saw how that went. Now those I.Q.'s are gravitating to challenges like growing mushrooms in discarded coffee grounds, allowing strangers...
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Thursday, July 14, 2011 — No Region Specified

Maternova Employs Technology to Create New Solutions to the Age-old Problem of Maternal Mortality

Source: Dowser

One of the oldest, most respected professions in the world is midwifery. And yet, midwives working in developing countries often lack simple resources like electric lights and towels. Meg Wirth founded the web-based startup Maternova, which provides vital obstetric tools and information to midwives and maternity hospitals around the world. Founded in 2009, the mission-driven for-profit venture aims to use the data-dissemination powers of technology to reach maternity care workers most in need...
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Thursday, July 14, 2011 — No Region Specified

College Students Focus on Social Issues in Dell Challenge

Source: Mother Nature Network

What do you get when you take socially aware, highly motivated and innovative college students and ask them to help solve a pressing social or environmental problem? You get some downright creative and possibly world-changing ideas via the Dell Social Innovation Challenge (DSIC). The Dell Social Innovation Challenge was launched five years ago and in that time, hundreds of thousands have dollars have been awarded to teams of college students to help solve a persistent social or e...
Thursday, July 14, 2011 — South Asia

Credit Flow to Smaller Farmers Has Not Reached Sufficiently: Indian Finance Minister

Source: Microfinance Focus

Union Finance Minister of India, Pranab Mukherjee recently addressing the Meeting of the Board of Directors of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) said that the rural Bank should deploy new technology, innovate and create financially viable models that can take forward the process of financial inclusion. He said that the primary expectation of the nation from banks, including NABARD, in the next decade was to eradicate financial exclusion. He stated that the big...
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Switching On: Africa's Vast New Tech Opportunity

Source: Wired

This article was taken from the August 2011 issue of Wired magazine. Be the first to read Wired's articles in print before they're posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing online . In 2011, visitors to Africa looking for war, famine and pestilence have to dig a lot deeper than in the past. At Nairo...
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Bringing Light to the Poor, One Liter at a Time [Video]

Source: Reuters

A bottled liter of water with a few teaspoons of bleach is proving to be a successful recipe for dwellers in the light-deprived slums of the Philippines. The simple technology is spreading sunlight in places where it has never been, and saving residents money at the same time. Gemma Haines reports. ...
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 — South Asia

Poor Countries Set to Benefit from Patent Agreement on Aids Drugs

Source: Guardian.co.uk

People with HIV in poor countries have a real prospect of obtaining not just the basic, cheap drugs to keep the virus at bay, but some of the best medicines that are on offer anywhere in the world - at a price their governments can afford. This remarkable turnaround is due to the Medicines Patent Pool, headed by the formidable Ellen 't Hoen, which has taken a concept many thought would never work and made it reality. On Tuesday, the patent pool announced its first licensing agreemen...
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

How 28 Poor Countries Escaped the Poverty Trap

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Remember the poverty trap? Countries stuck in destitution because of weak institutions put in place by colonial overlords, or because of climates that foster disease, or geographies that limit access to global markets, or simply by the fact that poverty is overwhelmingly self-perpetuating. Apparently the trap can be escaped. The World Bank did its annual assessment of poor countries...
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011 — No Region Specified

An Inside Look At B Lab's Plan To Change Business

Source: Fast Company

Entrepreneurs, consumers, governments, and businesses are increasingly using market forces to solve social and environmental problems. B Lab, a five-year-old nonprofit, is attempting to turn that potential into a new kind of corporation that recognizes true corporate social responsibility. The organization works by providing a framework that companies must take in order to be certified as a "B Corporation." And these aren't just cosmetic steps like increased recycling; companies must writ...
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011 — Latin America

Root Capital Makes Money By Investing Where Wall Street Won't: Poor, Rural Farmers

Source: Fast Company

Small money, big change. That, in essence, is what William Foote was banking on when he ditched Harvard Business School to start what is now Root Capital , a "nonprofit social investment fund" that lends to small and medium rural businesses in developing countries. Root Capital's business model is to go where other banks will not --the agricultural sector of poor countries --and loan rural businesses as much as $500,000 to expand or improve t...
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 — South Asia

Indian Mobile Bank Eko Raises $5.5 Million Processing $270 Million

Source: TechCrunch

Innovative mobile banking platform Eko India Financial Services has raised $5.5 million from Creation Investments' Social Venture fund, Promus Equity Partners and several unnamed angel investors. Mobile banking is one of the most exciting trends in the tech world outside Silicon Valley. And now that more people have mobile phones than toilets in the world, there's a real chance at bridging the unbanked gap. Forget glitzy iPhone financial apps. The most innovative stuff is mobile...
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Monday, July 11, 2011 — No Region Specified

Oikocredit USA Names Sharlene Brown National Director

Source: Benzinga.com

Washington, DC (PRWEB) July 11, 2011 As Oikocredit USA seeks to expand its mission in this country, it has named Sharlene Brown as the new National Director. Brown, a social investor and microfinance expert, will help position Oikocredit USA for growth as the organization prepares for the retirement of its current Executive Director, Terry Provance, in September 2012. Brown and Provance will work closely together over the next year of Oikocredit's transition of leadership. Bro...
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Thursday, July 07, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Solar Sister Wants to Light Up Rural Africa

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

One-year-old start up Solar Sister is using cosmetics company AVON's model to distribute solar energy in Uganda , Sudan , and Rwanda . To learn more about the "business in a bag" model that's giving rural African women ...
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Thursday, July 07, 2011 — South Asia

RBI to Regulate Microfinance Sector, Says New Bill

Source: The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday released the draft Micro Financial Sector (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011, which seeks to make it mandatory for all microfinance institutions to be registered with the Reserve Bank, making it the sector regulator. The Bill in its earlier avtar had proposed that the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) will be the regulator of the sector. The government had introduced the Micro Financial Sector B...
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Thursday, July 07, 2011 — South Asia

Blackstone to Invest $34 Mln in India's FINO

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group said on Thursday it will invest 1.5 billion rupees ($34 million) in FINO, an Indian technology solutions provider for banks, microfinance institutions and insurance companies. Existing investors in FINO include HSBC , ICICI Bank and Intel Capital, according to the website of the company that was set up in 2006 and is based in Mumbai. Private equity de...
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Wednesday, July 06, 2011 — South Asia

Banks Asked to Up Credit Flow to SMEs

Source: Business Standard

While bank advances were growing above 20 per cent yearly, lending to small and micro enterprises (SMEs) should also grow at a decent pace, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) told banks in the annual review meeting of its standing advisory committee on SMEs on Tuesday. "Credit growth is more than 20 per cent, higher than RBI's projection. In Tuesday's meeting, the focus was that micro credit also should grow. Banks will try to see how to step up credit, especially to small manufact...
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Wednesday, July 06, 2011 — South Asia

WB to Give $1 Bn for Rural Livelihood Programme

Source: The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: The World Bank has approved $1 billion credit for National Rural Livelihoods Project ( NRLP )), which it said will aim at strengthening the implementation of the newly launched National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). NRLM is one of the world's largest poverty reduction initiatives costing approximately $ 7.7 billion, aiming to reach 350 million people. The World Bank will help the Indian government create institutional platform by mobilising rural...
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Tuesday, July 05, 2011 — South Asia

Teatulia: A Tea Company Helps Lift a Village Out of Poverty

Source: CNN Money

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- For some businesses, giving back means making a tax-deductible donation to a local little league team. But for Teatulia, an organic tea company, giving back means creating a better life for a community halfway around the globe. The two-year-old startup has done what many companies cannot or will not, which is marry a revenue-growing business with a thriving social responsibility program. The Denver company sells organic tea that is now sold in Whole Foods an...
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Tuesday, July 05, 2011 — South Asia

Microfinance Firms Asked to be ?Fair? to the Poor

Source: livemint.com

Mumbai: It's back to basics for the Rs. 20,000 crore Indian microfinance sector as industry lobby group Sa-Dhan, which counts at least 250 microfinance institutions (MFIs) as members, has asked all such firms to deal "fairly" with debtors and avoid coercion in collecting dues. The association will in the next few weeks discuss compliance issues with individual MFIs, Sa-Dhan executive director Mathew Titus said. "The effort is to move towards a new regulatory regime," he added. ...
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Tuesday, July 05, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Invest in Agriculture to Tackle Food Crisis in East Africa, says IFAD

Source: CPI Financial

In the face of a prolonged drought in East Africa that is threatening the lives of an estimated 10 million people across the region, Geoffrey Livingston, Regional Economist for East and Southern Africa at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said: "We need to act now and step up investment in agriculture and smallholder farmers if we want to prevent a major food crisis." The effects of climate change have been becoming more and more apparent in the region including...
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Tuesday, July 05, 2011 — No Region Specified

Inc. 5000 Applicant of the Week: World Centric

Source: Inc.

As we process applications for the 2011 Inc. 500 5000, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States . One that caught our eye was Palo Alto , California
Friday, July 01, 2011 — No Region Specified

A New Way To Aid The Poor: Ask Them To Pay

Source: Fast Company

In the last three years, a largely unnoticed foreign aid project has delivered sanitation to 5.4 million people around the world, helping prevent thousands dying from cholera, dysentery and other diseases. And it achieved all of this without paying for a single toilet. The Global Scaling-Up Sanitation Initiative , a marriage of Madison Avenue marketing and Main Street self-reliance, aims t...
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Friday, July 01, 2011 — No Region Specified

An ?MBA? for the Bottom of the Pyramid

Source: The Wall Street Journal - India RealTime

By Tripti Lahiri Tara Thiagarajan, the chairwoman of Tamil Nadu-based Madura Micro Finance Ltd. , has been browsing U.S. microfinance blogs in the U.S. and she doesn't like what she sees. "The question people are focusing on is not really the right one," she said. Even though it's been over two decades since formal microlenders have existed, Ms. Thiagarajan says it's still early days to ask, "Does it work?" Ins...
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