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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
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 — South Asia

Esther Duflo Bribes India's Poor to Health

Source: Fast Company

Rajasthan is India's desert state, an often inhospitable place where per capita income averages around $1.77 per day. Poverty like that--understanding it and imagining ways to fix it--is what Esther Duflo lives for. Since 2003, her Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (named for a wealthy Saudi donor), or J-PAL, has conducted 240 randomized, controlled trials of specific ways to help the poor. She tests poverty solutions the way medical researchers test new drugs, which can violate the p...
TAGS:solar
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 — Asia Pacific

USD 7.7 Mn Japanese Aid for Nepal to Fight Poverty

Source: ZeeNews.com

Kathmandu: Japan has granted USD 7.7 million to help Nepal reduce poverty and child malnutrition. The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction has granted the amount for three projects which will be administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The ADB has teamed up with the government of Japan and government of Nepal to help reduce child malnutrition, develop new livelihood opportunity for the poor and provide greater access to clean energy for poor rural woman through ...
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Mobile Money Operators Prepare to Roll Out Financial Services

Source: Business Day

Shut out by the formal banking sector for years, the un-banked and un-served communities in Nigeria will soon gains some respite as mobile money operators are preparing to roll out innovative solutions geared towards providing financial inclusion in the coming months. This is following the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) recent issuance of operating licenses to 11 mobile firms. The firms include: Fortis Money, UBA/Afripay, GTBank Mobile Money, Pagatech, eTranzact, Monetise, Earthole...
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Indego Africa: Lifting Africa's Women Out of Poverty

Source: Fox News

Promoting access and opporutnity for business-minded African women [ Video ] ...
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 — No Region Specified

Impact Investing and Social Entrepreneurship: A Way Forward

Source: Forbes

Recently, I interviewed Ron D. Cordes, Co-founder of the Cordes Foundation, which he and his wife Marty created in 2006. The primary focus of the Foundation is to utilize social entrepreneurship and impact investing as tools for global poverty alleviation. Ron has enjoyed a 25+ year career in the investment industry, having co-founded and then sold AssetMark Investment Services to Genworth Financial (NYSE:GNW) in 2006. He is currently Co-Chairman of Genworth Financial Wealth Management,...
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

How Solar Stores Are Helping to Meet Rural Uganda?s Energy Needs

Source: pv magazine

Attorney Sari Schwartz and Rachel Ishofsky, associate executive director of Jewish Heart for Africa discuss how cell phones and hair trimming in rural Uganda sparked the introduction of mobile solar kiosks. A pilot project, the aim is to see whether these solar stores can be run profitably, thus creating both an independent business and a source of safe, reliable energy. The focus of international development is shifting. Foreign assistance in its traditional form is being called into q...
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Monday, August 29, 2011 — Asia Pacific

When Communities Identify Their Own Poor, Aid Has the Most Effect

Source: Fast Company

When governments and NGOs plan on giving assistance to the most needy, how do they know who needs the most assistance? It's a question people are at great pains to answer, yet social welfare programs around the world are still plagued by error and abuse. That has not deterred the development of programs to help people escape extreme poverty. But because the poor--especially those earning less than $2 or $3 per day--typically hold informal jobs with no official records about their earnings...
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Monday, August 29, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Using Technology to Close the Gender Gap in Sierra Leone

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Admire Bio has the reassured presence of a successful businesswoman, with an edge that reveals she is still hungry for more. Bio, 28, a single mother living with her parents, set up her first internet cafe in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, only a year ago. She has expanded with two more branches, and plans to go national if she can secure a bank loan. "My biggest motivation is...
Monday, August 29, 2011 — South Asia

Half of Microcredit Goes to Well-off People: Study

Source: The Financial Express

Although the microfinance concept was developed to assist marginal people to address poverty, around 50 percent of micro credit goes to the well-off, reports UNB. "A lot of microcredit is wasted on the well-off; there is yet another problem that many of the poorer households do not benefit from it," said Prof SR Osmani, teacher of Development Economics at the University of Ulster, UK and a visiting fellow of Institute of Microfinance in Dhaka. Referring to the findings o...
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Friday, August 26, 2011 — Latin America

How a Pharmaceutical Giant is Battling Malnutrition on the Ground in Haiti

Source: Fast Company

All too often, corporate philanthropy involves dropping a wad of money on organizations that are doing work on an issue that the corporation "cares" about, and then saying goodbye. But sometimes, corporations actually bring their know-how and human capital to bear on a problem, in addition to just giving money. The global pharmaceutical company Abbott is taking the second path, focusing on long-lasting initiatives that can grow local economies in struggling areas. Case in point: Abbott's ...
Friday, August 26, 2011 — South Asia

India Taps Communication Tools to Transform Villages

Source: ZDNet

Several Indian companies are relying on a host of communication technologies to bridge the digital divide by offering sustainable solutions for rural India. Some 70 percent of India's population, or nearly 750 million people, live in villages but contribute just 30 percent of country's GDP. This is likely why rural consumers have long been ignored by marketers. However, this is gradually changing, especially since the rural share of consumer goods today is...
Friday, August 26, 2011 — Asia Pacific

East Asia Invests in Basic Sanitation

Source: Microfinance Focus

A series of reports by the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program highlights that households that invest in basic sanitation have a better standard of living and thus could increase up to seven fold the return on investment in economic benefits in East Asia. The reports are a follow up to the Economics of Sanitation Initiative (ESI) launched in East Asian countries in 2007. The new reports contain a case study analysis on the costs and benefits of investing in basic improvements ...
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Thursday, August 25, 2011 — South Asia

Mobile Phone Technology for Development in Bangladesh

Source: Beyond Profit

Tahmima Anam, a Bangladeshi writer in India to promote her latest book, said in a recent interview that Dhaka is a city bursting at the seams but with a surprisingly tangible energy of possibility. This energy-often driven by an overwhelming necessity to act quickly in a country of extreme poverty-has ignited innovation in many areas, development included. Bangladesh'...
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Thursday, August 25, 2011 — South Asia

Microfinance Meets Micro Healthcare

Source: Microfinance Focus

In an attempt to provide affordable micro health program to the underserved sections of the society, Mysore (Karnataka, India) based healthcare consultancy and service provider Suddanand Healthcare has developed a symbiotic relationship with microfinance institutions in Karnataka. Utilizing the existing customer base infrastructure of MFIs in the state, Suddanand Healthcare program is ensuring higher efficiency, standardization of charges, greater awareness and penetration of health car...
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Thursday, August 25, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Why Zimbabwe's Cool-Sounding Plan to Give Away Millions of CFLs Isn't a Good Solution

Source: Fast Company

Zimbabwe's power supply is erratic, to say the least. The country imports nearly half of its power from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it still has to turn off power supplies for up to 10 hours at a time just to keep up with demand. In an effort to curb power consumption, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) recently decided to hand out 5.5 million CFL bulbs at a cos...
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011 — South Asia

Five Most Innovative Social Entrepreneurs

Source: Silicon India

Bangalore: It is still a matter of discussion, whether entrepreneurship is born or inbuilt; however, there are many who have succeeded to create a niche for themselves in the business world by doing something out of the league. These are the social entrepreneurs who thought of bringing in certain reform in the society rather than just enjoying the pleasant sound of coins. Bindeshwar Pathak An Indian sociologist, Bindeshwar Pathak is the found...
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011 — Europe & Eurasia

The Robin Hood Tax: A Small Step for Capitalism, a Big Stride for Development

Source: Guardian.co.uk

What connects hunger in Africa, people dying for want of medicines or health care and fast-paced global capitalism? A small tax on financial transactions. A new report about computer-driven high frequency trading (HFT), compiled by supporters of the Robin Hood tax campaign, reveals a niche world of millions of transactions each day. The report highlights how HFT threate...
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011 — No Region Specified

Plan: ?Customized, Long-Term Solutions to End the Cycle of Poverty for Children?

Source: Devex

Plan International was selected as a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator based on a poll of thousands of global development professionals who are part of Devex, the largest network of aid and relief workers in the world. Announced on April 18, Devex Top 40 Development Innovators is an impressive listing of the world's leading donor agencies & foundations, development consulting companies, implementing NGOs, and...
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011 — No Region Specified

Looking to Turn a Profit? One Good Cause at a Time

Source: The Wall Street Journal

A wave of entrepreneurs are trying to turn a profit by helping good causes find donors to back them. The tool they use is called niche crowd-funding. Entrepreneurs set up websites for very specific types of charitable projects, like supporting small farmers in developing nations or helping victims of natural disasters. People who need backers can put fund-raising pitches on the site-and the entrepreneurs take a cut of whatever money they raise. The sums involved are usually modest...
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011 — No Region Specified

Coming Soon: Batteries that Run On (and Clean) Used Toilet Water

Source: Fast Company

Humans should have a little more respect for dirty toilet water. In recent years, wastewater has become something of a commodity, with nuclear plants paying for treated wastewater to run their facilities, cities relying on so-called " toilet to tap ...
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011 — No Region Specified

Cornell Leads Series on Poverty Traps and Conservation

Source: ECN

In rural areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America, poor farmers supplement their livelihoods by hunting and cutting wood, but such practices seriously threaten biodiversity in the developing world. Now, Cornell researchers are leading the way to explore solutions that not only protect biodiversity but also improve the lives of the poor. Chris Barrett, the Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management and professor of economics, and Alexander Travis, ...
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Monday, August 22, 2011 — Latin America

Funding Sustainable Agriculture in Latin America

Source: Microfinance Focus

Recently, the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB) through its Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) approved a loan and technical assistance of $4.9 million to Root Capital, a non-profit social investment fund. Root Capital provides finance for cooperatives, producers' associations, and small and medium-sized enterprises in rural areas producing under sustainable agricultural schemes in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. This project is aimed at providing an innovative financin...
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Monday, August 22, 2011 — South Asia

Beggars Can Be Choosers

Source: Business Standard

A successful micro finance business model for the poorest of the poor is creating waves in rural Bengal. At 7.30 AM, Bikash Dey Sarkar, an employee of Bandhan Microfinance, is out at work, surrounded by close to 150-odd villagers, watching him scribble a map on the mud floor of a makeshift community centre. Sarkar is not a cartographer but is on an assignment to create a data bank of ultra low net worth individuals in far flung villages. He draws a map of houses, landmarks and roa...
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Monday, August 22, 2011 — No Region Specified

8 Startups that are Changing the World

Source: Mashable

From life-changing technologies that reduce poverty and disease to online volunteerism for busy professionals, the Startups For Good Challenge contestants proved they had more than just a great business idea: They also are working to make a positive impact on the world. We're thrilled to announce the eight finalists for the Startups For Good Challenge . These finalists ...
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Friday, August 19, 2011 — Latin America

Bolivia's First Crop Insurance Scheme Promises to Empower Farmers

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Natural disasters can come with six-digit figures of damage and debt attached, even in Latin America's poorest country. Bolivia 's rural areas, still dependent on rain cycles, are the most financially vulnerable to drought, frost, hail, floods and other weather adversities. Lose your crops, farmers say, and you're left with nothing but your debts. Luis Alvaro Toledo, who's wo...
Friday, August 19, 2011 — No Region Specified

Social Innovation to Reinvent the Toilet

Source: Justmeans

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wants social innovation to rethink the technology of the flush toilet. The Foundation has created a competition, 'Reinvent the Toilet', which is open to researchers at eight universities who have the opportunity to win an attractive prize of $3 million. The challenge is to use technology to create toilet models that do not need to be connected to sewers, water and electric...
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Friday, August 19, 2011 — Latin America

Microfinance Records Lowest Investment Growth in Six Years ? MicroRate

Source: Microfinance Focus

According to MicroRate's 'The State of Microfinance Investment 2011' report, the lingering effects of the economic crisis led to the lowest microfinance investment growth rate observed in the past 6 years, with total Microfinance Investment Vehicle (MIV) assets growing 12% in 2010. Rating agency MicroRate has been doing annual survey and analysis of MIVs for the last six years and this year it received information from 80 MIVs covering 92% of global assets under management. ...
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Thursday, August 18, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Solar Irrigation Solutions in Africa

Source: Dowser

When you have to hand-deliver water to irrigate your farm, you aren't going to have the best possible crop yields. If you have to pay for water from a nearby pump, if one exists, you're not going to be able to get very much if your total budget is less than a dollar a day and your crop yield is still going to be pretty limited. But if you can manage to access the underground water table using a solar-powered pump that does not cost much to run, you can ease the burden of everyda...
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Thursday, August 18, 2011 — South Asia

How One Woman May Bring Safe Water to Millions

Source: ABC News

When Cynthia Koenig, from New York, realized that one in six people lack reliable access to water she wanted to do something about it. Her solution was a 25-gallon drum that can be pushed or pulled and takes away much of the burden of carrying water on the head, which is the traditional method women use in many parts of the world. Koenig considers herself a social entrepreneur, a new breed of entrepreneur who has innovative solutions to society's most pressing social problems ...
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Thursday, August 18, 2011 — South Asia

Greenway Smart Stove: A Cleaner Smarter Stove for 150 Million BOP Households

Source: TechSangam

Newly minted MBA graduates in their mid-20's, especially from top-tier business schools, are supposed to be working at a multi-national bank or maybe a Hindustan Lever, right? Not if you are Neha Juneja and Ankit Mathur who decided to take the less beaten path of social entrepreneurship by founding Greenway Grameen Infrastructure. Zeroing in on the stove Their journey started innocuously enough. A series of consulting gigs in the environment domain gave Neha a...
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The Women Bringing Solar Power to Sierra Leone

Source: Guardian.co.uk

A group of 12 women from villages in Sierra Leone is in the frontline of a battle to bring solar-powered electricity to rural communities. No small feat, given that rural Sierra Leone is not connected to power. The women were all trained at Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan, in western ...
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 — South Asia

9 Million Indian Microfinance Clients Crossed $1.25 a Day Threshold

Source: Microfinance Focus

Counting the net number of people who crossed from below the USD 1.25 a day consumption in India between 1990 and 2010, a study by India Development Foundation (IDF) shows that nearly 9 million Indian households involved in microfinance - including approximately 45 million family members moved above USD 1.25 threshold during the last two decades. According to the IDF report which was released by the Microcredit Summit Campaign, a program of the US-based advocacy group RESULTS Educationa...
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011 — South Asia

In Bangledesh, ADBB, IDB Loans to Fill In Huge Power Deficit

Source: Devex News

Bangladesh will soon be developing new sources of sustainable energy, thanks to loans totaling $581 million from the Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. This is expected to fill in the country's huge power deficit, as almost half of the population does not have access to electricity. The ADB will provide $300 million for the construction of a new natural gas-fueled power station to replace a...
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011 — No Region Specified

Solar Light Bulb Sheds Light on Social Entre?pre?neur?ship Model

Source: The Washington Post

Problems facing the developing world are wide-ranging and include the need for potable water, adequate food and efficient, affordable lighting. Inventor Stephen Katsaros's solar-powered light bulb may go a long way towards fixing the last of those three. Katsaros created a solar light bulb that uses the sun's rays to charge a battery-powered LED light supply for roughly four hours. The battery, which is replaceable, lasts roughly 300-500 charges, while the product itself c...
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 — South Asia

Microfinance Gets Lending Boost with RBI Nod to Crowdsourcing

Source: livemint.com

India's microlending sector has got a significant nudge with the central bank giving its first nod to a crowdsourcing company to attract small loans from abroad for the country's poor. Following the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) approval, individuals or institutions from anywhere in the world can use Milaap's online platform to identify whom they want to lend to, widely expanding the capital source for the company. They can extend as little as Rs.1,000 to fund someone...
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011 — South Asia

Ross Establishes India Initiatives under Faculty Director M.S. Krishnan

Source: Michigan Ross School of Business

ANN ARBOR, Mich.-Dean Alison Davis-Blake has established the Ross School of Business India Initiatives and appointed M.S. Krishnan as faculty director. Krishnan is the Joseph Handleman Professor of Business Information Technology and a Hallman Research Fellow at Ross. The India Initiatives comprise, but are not limited to, the C.K. Prahalad Initiative and the Center for Global Resource Leverage: India. As faculty director of India Initiatives, Krishnan will report to Associate Dean for ...
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Monday, August 15, 2011 — No Region Specified

Social Enterprise Spotlight: Portable Solar Lighting

Source: Forbes

"How many _____ does it take to change a light bulb," may no longer be just a joke. In inventing the LuminAID Light , a solar powered portable device, Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stock have created a possible alternative to Thomas Edison's 1879 electric discovery that has the potential to change, not only the light bulb, but also the world. It is no wonder that they are one of the three social entrepreneur finalists for the ...
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Monday, August 15, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Business Incubator for Marginalised Youths Debuts

Source: Business Day

In 10 years from now, 40 million Nigerians will become job seekers, and most of them would be unskilled hands. What do we do with these job seekers? Generation Enterprise (GEN) raised this question last week in Lagos. It is GEN's mandate to solve this problem. GEN, a model that provides an end-to-end solution to youth poverty and unemployment, brought leaders in Nigeria's public, private, and social sectors together in Lagos to tackle the related issues of youth unemployment and...
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Monday, August 15, 2011 — South Asia

Slum-free India Scheme to be Taken Up as National Mission

Source: The Hindu

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said the government's endeavour is to make the country slum-free through the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) scheme and empowering slum dwellers with house ownership. "We have taken a major step for our poor brothers and sisters living in cities. We have approved the Rajiv Awas Yojana. We want to make India slum free through this scheme," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his Independence Day address to the nation in New Delhi. The RAY, the ...
Friday, August 12, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Exploding Malaria With Human-Sized Microwaves

Source: Fast Company

Around the world almost a million people die from malaria each year, and half the planet's population, 3.3 billion people, live at risk of contracting the disease , mostly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Treatments for malaria, however, have never been a high priority for pharmaceutical companies. Most victims have little or no ability to pay, and profit margins on vaccines are thin. Now, our few lines of defen...
TAGS:malaria
Friday, August 12, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Banking on a Mobile Business

Source: Business Today

I t sounds like the lead-up to a bad joke: What do a mobile phone and a bank clerk have in common? Certainly the differences are more obvious than any similarities, but the two do share one crucial likeness: they both provide access to financial services. Mobile banking is becoming an increasingly popular service across Africa, thanks to a combination of both simplicity and availability. The ability to access basic financial services, such as deposits and transfer...
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Friday, August 12, 2011 — South Asia

Villgro Incubatee Raises VC Investment

Source:

Villgro Innovations Foundation is pleased to announce that Skymet, a company incubated by Villgro, has successfully raised a significant round of investment from Omnivore Capital for 33% of it's equity. Jatin Singh founded and promotes Skymet ...
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Thursday, August 11, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Backpack Farms: Targeted Solutions to Help African Farmers Become More Resistant to Drought

Source: Dowser

This is part of a series highlighting innovations and possibilities for action for the famine in Somalia. Most news frames the famine and political conflict as near unsolvable; we're examining the on-the-ground measures that can help - from the large scale and political to the local and preventative. Looking at graphic photos of starving Somalis or reading about the perils of drought in East Afr...
Thursday, August 11, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Senegalese Village Wipes Out Malaria With Mosquito Nets And Fines For Not Using Them

Source: Fast Company

We tend to think of innovation as something that happens at startups and dotcoms. But sometimes, the most powerful innovations happen at the end of a bumpy dirt road in rural Africa--in this case, a Senegalese village that has figured out how to virtually eradicate malaria. As the father of a 7-year-old daughter, I was touched and inspired by the story of another dad I met during my recent trip to Senegal. I visited El Hadj Diop in his hometown of Thienaba, Senegal, where he told me the...
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Rags2Riches Empowers Impoverished Women to Turn Recycled Scrap into Haute Couture

Source: Fast Company

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz was teaching children math, science, and reading skills in Payatas--one of the Philippines' biggest dump sites--when she noticed something: local mothers were making foot rugs out of scrap cloth that was furnished to them by a group of middlemen, who got the cloth directly from a factory and retrieved the finished products to sell. The mothers made a total of 20 cents per day. Before the middlemen came along, the mothers took the scrap cloth directly from the local du...
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 — No Region Specified

CSR is Dead, Long Live Social Enterprise

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been around as a term since the 60s but it really came to prominence in the last decade when large multinationals began to adopt the phrase to demonstrate that they were serious about delivering a positive social impact on the communities in which they operated. Some cynics felt that CSR was simply a marketing exercise, an attempt to reassure employees, garner consumer favour and stave off government regulation. Other more hawkish economists suc...
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011 — North Africa and Near East

SMES In Egypt, Jordan to Benefit from $500 Million in U.S. Loans

Source: Devex News

The Overseas Private Investment Corp., an independent agency of the U.S. government, secured $500 million for a lending facility , of which half will be provided to Egypt and the rest to Jordan. OPIC will guarantee loans by local banks to SMEs, microfinance institutions and other approved borrowers. By filling in the gap in access to credit by SMEs in Jordan and Egypt, the initiative aims to spu...
Tuesday, August 09, 2011 — South Asia

Target: Top of the pyramid

Source: Business Standard

Mainstream food brands, which have long milked the bottom of the pyramid to drive volumes, are now eyeing the top end to build value. Last month, Hindustan Unilever's coffee brand Bru stepped up its regular brew portfolio by bringing to market Bru Exotica, a super premium coffee in three variants: Brazil, Columbia and Kilimanjaro. GlaxoSmithKline's Horlicks too bolstered its premium credentials with the launch of Horlicks Gold at a 30 per cent premium to the base variant, in sel...
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Monday, August 08, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Social Enterprise Spotlight: Just Markets For Ghana?s Women

Source: Forbes

Three years ago Danielle Grace Warren had gone fishing. She was part of a mission to build fish farms in Ghana. These farms, it was hoped, would help generate badly needed income and jobs. The literally graceful and ballerina-like Warren, a creative writer, knew from her experience in Haiti where she had worked on economic development projects that income and jobs were the key to lifting the Ghanaians out of poverty. But they needed to be lots of income and jobs. That simply wasn't possib...
Monday, August 08, 2011 — South Asia

LIBA Establishes India's First Research and Innovation Center for BOP

Source: India PRwire

LIBA (Loyola Institute of Business Administration), among India's leading management institutes today announced the establishment of "Prof. C.K Prahalad Center for Emerging India', India's first research and innovation center focused exclusively on BOP marketing and among the early pioneers across the globe in this space. The center will be a key landmark to India's growing BOP market estimated at 835 million and recognized as among the larges...
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Monday, August 08, 2011 — No Region Specified

Restaurants Where You Only Pay What You Can Afford? A Visionary Way to Bring Good Food to the Poor

Source: AlterNet

If you were to only judge the world by watching the news, you'd think we had collectively lost all of our humanity, our intergrity. Neverending wars, devastating environmental disasters, punishing austerity measures... all of which impact the poorer among us more than the richer. Rare is the voice that speaks for the underprivileged. But, if you listen hard enough, you might just hear a little whisper out there in the distance. Among those voices, Pan...
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Friday, August 05, 2011 — South Asia

Heating Homes With Human Waste is Saving Lives and Tigers in Nepal

Source: Fast Company

Dirt gets a bad rap. I'm sitting on a dirt floor in Badreni, Nepal, in a home built largely of dirt (waddle and daub) and there's nothing dirty at all about this place. I'm a guest in a biogas home--one of 7,500 the WWF has helped build to date and one of 40,000 that will dot this Nepalese landscape five years from now. A small but powerful blue flame whispers in the corner and brings light to the faces of my host family. That flame lights and heats the home; it also warms t...
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Friday, August 05, 2011 — South Asia

India's Most Famous Investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala Pledges to Give Away 25% of His Wealth

Source: The Economic Times

MUMBAI: Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, India's most famous investor, has pledged to give away 25% of his wealth during his lifetime. He is the fourth Indian businessperson - after Azim Premji, Shiv Nadar and GM Rao - to make a statement of intent to give away a substantial part of their personal wealth to philanthropy. Announcing this on Monday evening at an event organised by GiveIndia, a giving facilitator, the 51-year-old said he planned to route all his charity through his R Jhunjhunwala ...
Friday, August 05, 2011 — No Region Specified

Five Maternal Health Innovations That Could Save Lives

Source: PBS

Every two minutes, somewhere around the world a woman dies in childbirth. Often, a lack of access to care, technology or medications causes these fatal complications. In an effort to reduce deaths of both mothers and infants at birth, teams from across the globe are competing in an innovation challenge held by the U.S. State Department and funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.* The field was narrowed from 77 finalists to 19 award nominees Friday at the Saving Li...
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Thursday, August 04, 2011 — No Region Specified

Recruiting Women To The Burgeoning (But Mostly Male) Host Of Angel Investors

Source: Fast Company

Women philanthropists have traditionally stood back from venture capital startups and angel investing; only 13% of angel investors in the U.S. are women. That's why Natalia Oberti Noguera, a 2005 Yale graduate, founded an angel-investing bootcamp for women. Created to increase the ratio of women angel investors in the social good category, Oberti Noguera's Pipeline Fellowship is announcing a call for applications for women philanthropists who want to be angel investors in s...
Thursday, August 04, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Miniature Lab Can Diagnose Disease in the Field

Source: Guardian.co.uk

People who live in the poorest and remotest parts of the developing world often have their lives cut short by disease -- preventable or curable disease. The first essential step to fighting these diseases is correctly identifying them. But in the developing world, disease detection is often prohibitively expensive. In a brilliant cross-pollination of engineering, physics and ...
Thursday, August 04, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Innovations in the Fight Against Famine

Source: The Washington Post

The famine in Somalia has shed new light on world hunger and the efforts individuals and organizations are undertaking to combat it. Aside from airlifting food and providing IVs, there is a larger problem in need of solving. Organizations such as ...
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Wednesday, August 03, 2011 — Latin America

Haitians Return to Africa, Bringing Solar Energy

Source: IPS

SEATTLE, U.S., Aug 2, 2011 (IPS) - Jean Ronel Noël, a young Haitian engineer, stood in a centuries-old fort on a small island just off Dakar and looked out at the Atlantic through a portal that once led enslaved Africans to the ships of the Middle Passage. "Finally we come to 'the door of the voyage of no return'," he wrote in a blog . "My blood wouldn't stop boiling, wave after wave of...
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Wednesday, August 03, 2011 — No Region Specified

The Mirage at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Source: Microfinance Focus

Gravity defying, shooting star aged IRRs and other return ratios of Microfinance (MFIs) have led to a lustful gold rush for the mythical Incan fortune to be discovered by doing business at the proverbial BoP (bottom of the pyramid). Everyone is joining the bandwagon, Tier 2 Management Consulting Firms, "Social" Entrepreneurs, "Social" Venture Capitalists, Jhollawalahs, Professionals, all panning for gold across diverse sectors from education, energy, health, housing, sanitation to water etc. ...
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Wednesday, August 03, 2011 — South Asia

Citi, OPIC, Bank Danamon Back Indonesia?s Microfinance with USD20 Million Loan

Source: The Asset

Citi Indonesia, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Bank Danamon will extend a USD20 million term loan to fund the growth of Bank Danamon's microfinance programme, Danamon Simpan Pinjam (DSP), and to promote the financial inclusion of microentrepreneurs and small businesses in Indonesia. This loan will be the first from Citi and OPIC for the microfinance sector in Indonesia, and is part of Citi's and OPIC's USD250 million joint global initiative to support micro...
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 — No Region Specified

A Smart New Way to Rate Socially Responsible Businesses

Source: GOOD

Better World Books sells used books. Nothing special there. But how it does it deserve more praise. Better World is a social enterprise that has put over $9 million in literacy and library programs around the world , minimized its carbon footprint with clever offset incentives to customers, and has been able to trea...
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Tuesday, August 02, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Rural Chinese Shake Off Poverty Through Self-Development

Source: Xinhua

BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhua) -- On a muggy summer day in Xiuning County of central Anhui Province, Wu Fengfeng still chops wood with a five-kilogram carpenter axe in a workshop of the non-profit Desheng Carpentry School. The 18-year-old boy, who is from a poor rural family in Xiuning, said his only task now is to master the techniques of making the four-sided "immortal eight" table and palace chair -- two types of traditional Chinese furniture -- so that he can "graduate soon and make mone...
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Tuesday, August 02, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Smartphone Means Social Enterprise in Africa

Source: Justmeans

What if I told you that Africa's mobile revolution is at the centre of the continent's social enterprise? That they are using their mobiles to do things that we in the West are only starting to think about. As apart from the usual of phones being used to text, talk and make mobile money transactions; the mobile networks are also being used to spread key information about farming and healthcare to isolated rural areas exposed to the costs of disease and drought. In Africa,...
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Monday, August 01, 2011 — South Asia

The Microfinance Crisis: Is There a Way Out?

Source: The Wall Street Journal

For the better part of nine months, the microfinance industry has been in paralysis because of restrictions put in place by the government of Andhra Pradesh, the state that was the center of micro-lending in India. Almost immediately, banks turned off the credit tap that allows microfinance lenders to operate, and borrowers abandoned the high repayment rates of the past and stopped paying. Recently, the full impact of the crisis has been revealed. SKS Microfinance, the stock market-list...
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Monday, August 01, 2011 — Europe & Eurasia

Impact Capital is the New Venture Capital (Part II)

Source: Reuters

The first part of this essay laid out the rationale for impact investing, whereby investors can simultaneously create social impact and achieve financial returns. How can we bring it about? First, we need an enabling environment. In the 1970s and 1980s, the venture capital community argued successfully for changes in taxation and the regulation of financial institutions ...
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Monday, August 01, 2011 — South Asia

Meet Mr Sunshine

Source: NDTV

Mumbai: For A Ramon Magsaysay awardee, Harish Hande is surprisingly easy to reach. Scarred by my previous experiences with tight-fisted companies' fortress-like PR mechanisms that make it as difficult as possible for the media to reach their clients, I dialled the number on the website of the Solar Electric Light Company (SELCO) India with consternation, only to be greeted by an affable team that put me in touch with their Managing Director, no less, in a matter of ...
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