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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
Friday, September 30, 2011 — South Asia

Could Impact Investing Help India's Poor?

Source: BBC

Sorting out plastic bags collected from rubbish tips is a serious business for Virender Kumar. Sitting on a pile of plastic bags, he is busy giving directions to the labourers he employs to help him with the recycling. Once the bags are sorted, he sells them to recycling units to be melted down into plastic pellets. He makes about 20,000 rupees ($410; £262) profit every month. But he has bigger ambitions that need funding. He says that by w...
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Friday, September 30, 2011 — South Asia

A Conversation With Ela R. Bhatt

Source: The New York Times

Ela Bhatt, a Gandhian and a lawyer who founded the Self Employed Women's Association in Gujarat, is sometimes referred to as the mother of microfinance. She helped start Mahila Sewa Co-operative Bank in 1974, two years before Muhammad Yunus began the project that would later become ...
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Friday, September 30, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Malawi?s Solar Micro-finance Initiative Builds Business for Women Entrepreneurs

Source: Women News Network

(WNN) Kasungu, Malawi: In the small landlocked southeastern African nation of Malawi only 8% of its growing 15.263 million people are connected to the national power grid, a source of power that has become increasingly unreliable. For many women and their families this often means only one thing - complete darkness at night or limited light generated only by candles or kerosene lamps. Being a woman in one of the poorest countries in the world carries with it many burden...
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Thursday, September 29, 2011 — South Asia

Paul Polak ? Developing Products for 'The Other 90 Percent' of Humanity

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

He listened first, then designed products for the world's poorest people long before the term 'social entrepreneur' came into use. Go spend time with your new market. Understand their needs. Do not presuppose that you know the answer. Multinationals can play a role in this. It's about collaborating. They can contribute to the development of millions of people's lives by offering them goods and services they need at a price they can afford. But they have ...
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Thursday, September 29, 2011 — No Region Specified

Green Growth

Source: The Economist

THE enrichment of previously poor countries is the most inspiring development of our time. It is also worrying. The environment is already under strain. What will happen when the global population rises from 7 billion today to 9.3 billion in 2050, as demographers expect, and a growing proportion of these people can afford goods that were once reserved for the elite? Can the planet support so much economic activity? Many policymakers adopt a top-down and Western-centric approach to such ...
Thursday, September 29, 2011 — No Region Specified

LifeStraw Saves Those Without Access to Clean Drinking Water

Source: The New York Times

More than a billion people don't have reliable access to clean drinking water. Boiling kills most germs in water, but requires fuel and doesn't remove dirt. In recent years, sand and ceramic filters have become more common, but these tend to be more expensive and usually don't catch all the microbes. So many of the poor worldwide simply drink dirty water. As a result, about 1.5 million children die of ...
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

UNCDF?s MicroLead partners The MasterCard Foundation

Source: Microfinance Focus

The MasterCard Foundation in partnership with the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) launched the expansion of the successful MicroLead program at the 5th Annual African Microfinance Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The $23.5 million six year project will increase access to microfinance, particularly savings services, to 450 000 low income people in Sub- Saharan Africa. The MicroLead expansion has selected a minimum of eight institutions to enable microfinance leaders to establish ...
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Wealthy Indonesians Start Sharing the Wealth

Source: The Jakarta Post

There are few places in the word where such vast contrasts exist that one can watch a Bentley overtaking a bajaj on city streets, an act that symbolizes the scale of economic inequality throughout the country. However, several determined Indonesians are aiming to take matters into their own hands as a means to provide greater opportunities to those who are less fortunate. Sandiaga Uno, a successful investor and CEO of Saratoga Capital, has found a unique way to link hi...
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Cambodia: A Place for Pioneer Investors

Source: CNN

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN) - The most common image of Cambodia is the land of ancient temples and budget travelers. There's now something else putting Cambodia on the map: foreign investors. Cambodia's devastating recent history set the country back a generation. From 1975-78, the Communist Khmer Rouge killed intellectuals, destroyed the education system and pushed for an agrarian society that required families to be uprooted and separated. By the end of t...
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Swiss Re Policies Help Cholera Victims in Haiti, Poor Farmers in Africa

Source: Insurance Journal

Global reinsurer Swiss Re is introducing business interruption coverage in case of cholera outbreaks for women entrepreneurs in Haiti. Swiss Re, together with Mercy Corps and Fonkoze, the largest microfinance organization in Haiti, are introducing a new cholera insurance program. The coverage ensures rapid payout once a pre-defined set of criteria are met. These include cholera-related hospital admissions and observable weather factors linked to cholera outbreaks. Cholera first appeared...
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Nut Farmers in Ghana Crack into Mobile Technology

Source: Forbes

Today is a day that I've been anticipating for weeks; ever since I found out I was going to host a group of international reporters in Ghana. My thoughts have ranged from excitement to anxiety to trepidation and back around again. After extensive preparation in the form of vaccinations, planning, research and shopping, the time to execute is finally here. As I get ready to join, host and escort nine international journalists through Ghana, a country that I've never been to and u...
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 — South Asia

The Magic of Social Enterprise

Source: Business Line

A social entrepreneur's record of bringing quality vision care to the poor and underprivileged, especially in rural India, and the phenomenal work done by his team with the support of local communities is an inspiring healthcare model. It is easy to get overwhelmed, even depressed, by statistics that tell a dark tale about India's millions living miserable lives. Rural India has been left far behind in India's story of growth and development, oft trumpeted from international...
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Monday, September 26, 2011 — Europe & Eurasia

Social Enterprise: Summit Says that the Geography of the World's Poverty Has Changed

Source: Justmeans

It is clear that our changing world needs new approaches, flexible thinking and more social enterprise. Recent global factors such as the financial collapse, the food and fuel price crisis, and the increasingly rapid burn of climate change has been a challenge for the current model of international development. To find innovative solutions, the largest gathering of its kind with over 800 specialists organised by the Development Studies Assoc...
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Monday, September 26, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dies at 71

Source: The New York Times

NAIROBI, Kenya - Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who started out by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, died late on Sunday after battling cancer. She was 71. Mrs. Maathai, one of the most famous and widely respected women on the continent, wore many hats - environmentalist, feminist, politician, professor, rabble-rouser, human rights advocate and head of the ...
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Monday, September 26, 2011 — No Region Specified

The Big Save

Source: The Economist

TWO years ago Sabina sold flowers on the street from a shopping trolley. Today she has her own storefront in Queens, thanks to a $1,500 loan from Grameen America, a microfinance institution based on Grameen bank, which was founded by Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh. Since opening its first American branch in January 2008, Grameen has found fertile ground. It has lent more than $25m to 7,300 borrowers. At 15%, interest rates are high, but far less than a loan shark or payday lender would charge (...
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Friday, September 23, 2011 — South Asia

Solar-Powered Water ATMs Provide Clean Drinking Water to the Thirsty

Source: Fast Company

Clean water is a luxury; one in eight people around the world lack access to supplies of the stuff, and unsafe water is responsible for 60% to 80% of all disease in India alone. There are plenty of possible solutions--new wells, pricey community water filters--but an organization called Sarvajal has devised a fix that is rapidly spreading across India: solar-powered water ATMs. Sarvajal was honored...
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Friday, September 23, 2011 — No Region Specified

Bill Clinton Gets 194 Pledges to Tackle World Woes

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - Pledges to train 40,000 Tunisian youths to open businesses, give a million poor U.S. students access to broadband and teach 600 Indonesians a trade were among the commitments made at former U.S. President Bill Clinton's philanthropic summit, which ended on Thursday. With a focus on creating jobs, programs for women and girls and sustainable consumption, heads of states, business leaders, humanitarians and celebrities at the seventh annual Clinton Global Initiative made 1...
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Friday, September 23, 2011 — No Region Specified

Walmart Targets Women-owned Businesses

Source: Business Day

Walmart says it has decided to access services and goods from women, including Africa, after being accused of gender discrimination in the US. The US Supreme Court threw out the gender-discrimination lawsuit against Walmart, but the bad press it generated has led the US retailer to change some of its buying rules. In 2001 a number of previous female employees of Walmart decided to sue the retailer. The world's biggest retailer opposed the action which after a decade, eve...
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Thursday, September 22, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

African Forest Policies Crowned Best in World

Source: AfricaNews.com

The prize is awarded annually by the World Future Council, a foundation that brings the interests of future generations to the centre of policy making. The jury which decided on the winning policies was composed of experts on sustainability and forests from all five continents. Runners-up were forest policies from Bhutan, Nepal and Switzerland. The US Lacey Act's 2008 amendment, which bans the import of illegally harvested wood, received the second Silver Award. Rw...
Thursday, September 22, 2011 — Latin America

Loan Ranger

Source: The New York Times

On a hot summer day in Manaus, Brazil, Diana Taylor, the former banking superintendent of New York and longtime companion of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, was strolling through a slum. A city of about two million in the middle of the Amazon, Manaus is where the Boston-based microfinance group Acción International started an ambitious lending operation in February, and Taylor, who is chairwoman of the group's board, had flown down with a delegation...
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Thursday, September 22, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Thriving Social Enterprise Empowers Rural Poor in Philippines

Source: Justmeans

Gandang Kalikasan, Inc. of Philippines has emerged as one of the sterling examples of how social enterprises can make a difference while being profitable at the same time. GKI is a unique social enterprise that was established four years ago by two sisters in Philippines, Anna Meloto-Wilk and Camille Meloto. It is now making a meaningful difference to the lives of thousands of rural poor in Philippines, while running an internationally successful business. Sisters Anna Meloto-Wil...
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 — No Region Specified

Global Impact Investing Ratings, Analytics Platform Launches

Source: PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting -- Today B Lab announces at CGI the launch of GIIRS Ratings & Analytics, and the commitment of 15 GIIRS Pioneer Investors who declare as part of their impact investing strategy an investment preference for GIIRS-rated funds and companies. GIIRS Impact Ratings provide investors for the first time with a comprehensive, comparable, and third party verified assessment of companies' and funds...
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 — South Asia

Coca-Cola India Rejigs Ops to Push Growth

Source: The Times of India

MUMBAI: In a bid to accelerate growth in key categories, Coca-Cola India has introduced changes to its management structure. While on the one hand, the world's largest non-alcoholic drinks maker has created a new vertical to push growth in rural markets by catering to the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) consumers, on the other it has introduced a ...
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 — No Region Specified

Matt Bannick of the Omidyar Network on Philanthropy, Social Enterprise, Technology and More

Source: Forbes

Recently, I interviewed Matt Bannick, Managing Partner of the Omidyar Network -a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. They invest in and help scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic, social, and political change. eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and wife Pam established Omidyar Network based on their conviction that every person has the pow...
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 — Latin America

Grameen Foundation and USAID Providing $3 Million for Peruvian Microfinance Institutions

Source: MarketWatch

Grameen Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced that they are jointly providing a $1.5 million credit guarantee to the Peruvian savings and credit cooperative Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito (ABACO) to support approximately $3 million for local currency financing to two socially-focused Peruvian microfinance institutions (MFIs). Peru has an established microfinance sector, with mature institutions having relatively easy access to internationa...
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Safe Toilets Could Prevent Sexual Assault and Sickness, Say South Africa's Poor

Source: Guardian.co.uk

"Sorry. I was delayed - a woman was raped on her way to the toilet this morning," said Alakhe Mbuku. Distressed and arriving late, Mbuku, from Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, had been due to deliver her speech at the sanitation summit on Thursday called by the Social Justice Coalition. But that was all she said. The SJC had brought together religious leaders, trade ...
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011 — Latin America

In Pockets of Booming Brazil, a Mint Idea Gains Currency

Source: The Wall Street Journal

SILVA JARDIM, Brazil-After school and on weekends, Carlos Leandro Peixoto de Abril sells ice cream made by his grandmother from a stoop alongside the family's cinder-block home. Instead of Brazilian reais, though, the 11-year-old prefers payment in capivaris-a local currency emblazoned with the face of a giant rodent. Bills in hand, Carlos then heads to a local grocer and buys ingredients, at a special discount, for another batch of grandma's goods. The capivari circulates...
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Potential, Poverty, Politics & Parties: Why Kenya Attracts the Brightest Social Entreprepreneurs

Source: The Huffington Post

They flock from America's top universities, grad programs and consulting firms to the pulsing heart of a new Africa. From glass towers and Ivied halls to cramped garages, cooperative work hubs, and overflowing makeshift live/workspaces, these young, talented and driven entrepreneurs are riding a new wave of social enterprises, crash landing into a rapidly rising east African capital. The most populated city in east Africa, and one of the fastest growing, Nairobi, Kenya has become an...
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Monday, September 19, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Zambikes Bamboo Bikes Turn Heads In U.S., Fight Poverty In Africa

Source: Fast Company

In Zambia, bicycles grow on trees, or rather bamboo, the primary building material for many Zambikes . Groves of it grow outside the company's factory, which is run by two Zambians and two Americans on a quest to build a local bike for Africans, and employ the "uneducated and underprivileged" to make them for the rest of the world. So far, Zambike has cranked out at least 8,000 metal bicycles and 900 bicycle ambulances and cargo carts i...
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Monday, September 19, 2011 — No Region Specified

The Girl Effect

Source: CNN

By Maria Eitel - Special to CNN Investing in a girl stops poverty before it starts. That's the simple premise of the powerful force we call " The Girl Effect ." This week, The Girl Effect is on the global stage at the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Bank Annual Meeting . Take it from World Bank President Robert Zoelli...
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Monday, September 19, 2011 — Latin America

A Lesson in Social Entrepreneurship: Fundacion Paraguaya

Source: Forbes

Recently, I interviewed Martin Burt, founder and CEO of Fundación Paraguaya , an NGO devoted to the promotion of entrepreneurship among the world's poor. A pioneer in microfinances and youth financial literacy in Paraguay, Burt developed one of the world's first financially self-sufficient agricultural schools for the rural poor - creating a radical new model for education. In ad...
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Friday, September 16, 2011 — South Asia

Lok Capital Invests $3 million in Rural BPO

Source: Economic Times

Lok Capital venture fund on Thursday said it has invested $3 million (Rs.1.44 crore) in RuralShores Business Services Ltd, a rural business process outsourcing (BPO) firm. "RuralShores will use the second round of funding to expand its operations in the rural BPO space for business development," Lok Capital partner Ganesh Rengaswamy said in a statement here. With 10 back off...
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Friday, September 16, 2011 — No Region Specified

Gates Foundation Taps Novartis Executive

Source: Wall Street Journal

A senior executive at the pharmaceutical company Novartis AG will join the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as president of the philanthropy's global health group, a position that can influence the health of millions of people worldwide. On Tuesday, the foundation said that Dr. Trevor Mundel, 51, will join the foundation in December as head of the group, which funds methods to combat inf...
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Thursday, September 15, 2011 — No Region Specified

London to Deliver Prahalad Conference Keynote

Source: William Davidson Institute

WDI Senior Research Fellow Ted London will deliver the keynote address on Sept. 16 at a conference honoring C.K. Prahalad, one of the world's top management thinkers and a distinguished University of Michigan professor. London, director of WDI's Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Research initiative, will give the keynote at the conference, C.K. Prahalad's Legacy: Business for Poverty Alleviation. It will be hosted by the University of San Diego's Center for Peace and Commerce, a...
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Thursday, September 15, 2011 — South Asia

From No Doctor to E-Doctors in Rural India

Source: MIT Technology Review

There aren't too many doctors in the village of Hari Ke Kalan, in the Punjab region of northern India. But for $1, residents who bicycle to a new health clinic in town can get an appointment with a physician who appears on a large-screen television, beamed in over broadband Internet. The clinic, built by a startup called Healthpoint Services, is one of a network of eight "e-health points" that the for-profit company has built in India as part of a growing effort by entrepreneurs to ...
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 — No Region Specified

Acumen Fund Announces Sixth Class of Global Fellows

Source: PRWeb

Acumen Fund , a nonprofit venture firm addressing poverty in South Asia and East Africa, announced its 2012 class of Global Fellows today from a highly competitive pool of 550 applicants in 65 countries. The program addresses a talent gap in the social sector, cultivating the next generation of global leaders by fusing the operational and financial skills of its young professional recruits with moral imagination to create new solutions to global poverty...
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Citi Increases its Microfinance Work Across the Region

Source: FinanceAsia

While most banks across Asia seem to be focusing on the high-net-worth market in Asia, some are also concentrating on the promising mass market. Most view licences in China as an opportunity to capitalise on the China Dream; others see microfinance as a means to build long-standing relationships across the region. According to the India Development Foundation, nearly 9 million Indian households that had access to microfinance moved above the $1.25 a day consumption threshold between 199...
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 — South Asia

G20 Faces Obstacles in its Efforts to Spread Good Farming Practices

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Spreading good ideas and practices in farming sounds like a simple enough goal, but can be immensely complicated not just on a global level but also locally. Ahead of the G20 meeting in Montpellier, France, on agricultural research and development , which begins on Monday, Mark Holderness gives a telling example from his time working in Bangladesh. He urged female farmers to plant cleaner rice ...
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

UN Helps Expand Tanzania's Economic Growth, Poverty Reduction Plans

Source: Devex

Tanzania expects to receive some $777 million from the United Nations as support for the implementation of two of the country's economic growth and poverty reduction strategies. The funds will finance the second phases of Tanzania's national strategy for growth and poverty reduction, or MKUKUTA II, and the Zanzibar strategy for growth and poverty reduction or MKUZA II, the East African Business Week rep...
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya: Survey of Female Farmers Uncovers Challenges

Source: Microfinance Focus

In Kenya, a gender-disaggregated agricultural survey targeting 2,500 households and 5,000 individuals in eight regions, seeks women's input and data to inform agricultural policy. The survey shows that female farmers have limited access to finance, as few women own property they can use as collateral for loans. Another observation is that as agriculture becomes 'feminized' and men abandon farms to work in cities. The survey was conducted by Egerton University's Tegemeo I...
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Plan Farms for Climate Change: Minister

Source: Times Live

Adapting agriculture in Africa to accommodate drastic climate changes will reap benefits for future food security and the poor, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says. "Food security is important to Africa's economy as it impacts heavily on a country's poverty alleviation and sustainable development plans," she said at an African ministerial meeting on climate change in Johannesburg. "It is critical that governments and nations should...
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Monday, September 12, 2011 — South Asia

India?s 'Biggest Entrepreneurial Event' Set to Take Off Sept 30

Source: Northern Voices Online

New Delhi: The power of entrepreneurship and innovation to transform India into one of the leading economies of the world will be visible in full measure at the TiEcon Delhi 2011. The entrepreneurial event, among the biggest in Asia, begins on September 30 at Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi. The annual flagship event of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Delhi-NCR chapter, will see over 1500 attendees listen to the first CK Prahalad Memorial Lecture, set up in memory of the renowned Michigan Uni...
Monday, September 12, 2011 — South Asia

Report Stresses Need to Identify the 'Poor' in India

Source: Medindia.net

In India the poor are visible everywhere in villages, hamlets, in forestland or degraded lands, along coastal regions, in the mountains, in urban centres and in industrial areas. For all the visible signs of poverty, there is a huge chunk of these which are invisible. It comes back to the question of what makes the poor, poor. This is the question that should plague those who are at the forefront of polic...
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Monday, September 12, 2011 — South Asia

Microcredit and Lamia Karim's 'Women in Debt in Bangladesh'

Source: The Financial Express

Taj Hashmi in the first part of his two-part review A report by the Government of Bengal in the 1930s revealed that a poor peasant from Mymensingh district in eastern Bengal (Bangladesh since 1971) had told a land revenue official in 1929: "My father, Sir, was born in debt, grew in debt and died in debt. I have inherited my father's debt and my son will inherit mine." Following the introduction of microcredit, glorified as microfinance by its local and international promoters, ...
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Monday, September 12, 2011 — No Region Specified

Citi Microfinance Supports Microfinance and Nonprofit Institutions

Source: CNW

TORONTO, Sept. 12, 2011 /CNW/ - Toronto International Microfinance Summit announced today that Citi Microfinance is providing $25,000 to enable the attendance of select representatives of microfinance and nonprofit institutions at its 2011 conference, taking place at Toronto's Allstream Centre this month. In its third year, the Summit is comprised of two events: a fundraising Gala on September 16, followed by the micro way Conference and a new MicroMarketplace on September 17. Th...
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Friday, September 09, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The Birth of a Virtuous New Asset Class

Source: The Economist

"BACKING someone to live," is how Leapfrog Investment's first deal is described by Jim Roth, the co-founder of the "profit with purpose" private-equity firm. That was two years ago, a $6.7m stake in AllLife, a South African firm that provides life insurance to people with AIDS and infected with HIV, subject only to the condition that they submit to regular blood tests to prove they are taking their life-saving anti-retroviral drugs. "This provides cover to people whom other insurers...
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Friday, September 09, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Surfing the Radio Waves for Sustainable Agriculture

Source: allAfrica.com

While the use of mobile phones is rapidly surging across Africa, access gaps persist between urban and rural users. But a new generation of social entrepreneurs is remedying this problem by combining new and old media to reach rural populations. Twenty-nine-year-old Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu is one of such entrepreneurs who sees the mobile telephony gap as a call to innovate. His organization connects rural farmers with the information they need through a combination of mobile telephony and ra...
Thursday, September 08, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Could Donkey Ambulances Save Lives in Poor Countries?

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Professor Chris Lavy, an orthopaedic surgeon who spent years working in Africa, gives a vivid example of inappropriate medical technology for the developing world. One of the newest hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa, he points out, was built with infrared sensors to turn the taps on in the operating theatres. "Wonderful idea, but is it really appropriate in a country where there are no other infrared controlled taps and no engineer to fix them," he asks rhetorically. "Within a year most o...
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Thursday, September 08, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Citi Gives New Funds to Microfinance Group

Source: The Asset

Citi has committed new funding for the Banking with the Poor Network (BWTP), the only pan-Asia microfinance network, as part of its continued commitment to promoting financial inclusion globally. Citi Foundation grants worth USD200,000 will enable the BWTP Network to provide secretariat services to the APEC Business Advisory Council's Advisory Group on Financial Inclusion and also build its capacity to support BWTP members consisting of microfinance institutions, commercial banks, c...
Thursday, September 08, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The Gates Foundation Uses Genetic Modification for Good

Source: Fast Company

It's easy to demonize genetically modified crops. After all, we don't exactly know what their long-term health effects are, and they have the nasty habit of cross-pollinating with non-GMO crops. When new stories come out about advances in the field, many people react with anger and fear. But the Gates Foundation (and Bill Gates himself) has ...
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Wednesday, September 07, 2011 — Latin America

Omidyar Network and IGNIA Lead $13.75 Million Series B Round in Finestrella

Source: PR Newswire

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Sept. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Omidyar Network and IGNIA announced today they are leading a $13.75 million Series B round of financing in Finestrella, a provider of innovative mobile telephony services to low-income and unbanked populations in Mexico. Finestrella will use the funding to rapidly expand the availability of its current offerings while developing new products and services, including smart phones and data plans that address the needs of its customers. Th...
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Wednesday, September 07, 2011 — South Asia

Health Tests at Your Doorstep

Source: IBN Live

KOCHI: At daybreak, around 40 women in the city set out on their rounds to do medical tests. They conduct routine tests for over 750 persons that are quite cost-effective. These women are part of the Saantwanam project, a poverty-alleviation as well as health-oriented programme organised jointly by the Health Action by People (Thiruvananthapuram), Kudumbashree, and State Bank of India. The women visit houses and take instant readings of blood glucose(...
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Wednesday, September 07, 2011 — Asia Pacific

Show Me Your Pricing Data: Transparency Helps Philippines Lead Global Microfinance

Source: Justmeans

"The Philippines receives a perfect score...for the way it regulates the microcredit activities of established financial institutions." -- Economist Intelligence Unit,"Global Microscope on the Microfinance Business Environment" [1] The microfinance industry has taken a beating lately. In March, Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunnus was ousted from his position as managing director of the microcredit lender Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which he founded in 1983, by the ...
Tuesday, September 06, 2011 — South Asia

IIT Fest to Focus on Environment, Rural Aid, Empowering Rural Folk

Source: The Times of India

CHENNAI: This year, Shaastra, the annual technical festival of the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras, will be all about saving the environment and empowering people in rural areas to do the same. It will be held from September 28 to October 2. The Shaastra Social Innovation Challenge, a new event, is expected to have a direct impact on rural India. The problem statement includes designing a solar cooker to replace traditional wood-based cooking and designing a fully autonomous rob...
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Tuesday, September 06, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Beer Could Provide Lifeline for South Sudan's Small Farmers

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Husband to three wives, father of 10, Joseph Yekisuk, is nothing if not persistent as he detains visitors in a muddy cassava field just as they are about to head back into town. With the noonday sun beating down, the heat and humidity steadily rising, Yekisuk is making a pitch for money, hoes and gumboots. Especially the wellies. Gumboots here denote status in much the same way as the latest iPad does in London or New York. Yekisuk, with his stick-thin legs, is more likely to wear rubber boot...
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Tuesday, September 06, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

A Famine-proof World Requires Investment in Farm Research

Source: DesMoinesRegister.com

Once again the Horn of Africa is suffering a hunger crisis of dizzying magnitude. Nearly 12 million people are in the need of humanitarian assistance, despite more than $1.5 billion in emergency aid efforts to date. It is easy to get lost in these mind-boggling statistics. However, we must urgently act in support these efforts. Relief agencies, community organizations and governments are providing much needed support to save more lives from being lost. But with the America's e...
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Friday, September 02, 2011 — No Region Specified

Innovative Financing

Source: Knowledge@Wharton

Besides looking for the most commercially viable, innovative enterprises to invest in, Geneva-based Bamboo Finance also looks for another trait - investment targets that bring a direct, positive benefit to low-income communities by providing access to health care, sanitation, clean water, housing and the like. Having a socially positive impact while making a profit can be a huge challenge for a private equity (PE) firm like Bamboo. But it looks like it has scored an early success throug...
Friday, September 02, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Google Launches Affordable Wi-Fi Product in Kenya

Source: Microfinance Focus

Google in collaboration with African cable and internet services provider, The Wananchi Group has launch a new high-speed wireless broadband network 'Wazi WiFi' in Nairobi, Kenya with Aptilo Networks. This launch is a part of Wananchi's commitment to bring high speeds and low cost Wi-Fi in emerging markets. The company sees big opportunities in using WiFi technology for mobile data offloading and providing high speed unmetered access away from home. "The internet is a ...
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Friday, September 02, 2011 — No Region Specified

Want to Make Aid More Effective? Bring in the Private Sector

Source: Guardian.co.uk

The question of aid effectiveness has moved to the centre of development debates. If donors want to make their aid more effective, then they need to engage strategically with the private sector . We know that development of the private sector is probably the most ...
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Thursday, September 01, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Social Innovation Putting Hope in the Hands of Kenya's Starving

Source: Justmeans

As the severe drought continues taking lives in Kenya and the rest of east Africa, Concern Worldwide is turning to social innovation to try to save lives. The international humanitarian organisation has created a programme that enables people to make cash transfers to buy food. It is hoped this initiative will help 20,000 people over the next five months. Earlier this year, Concern began noticing a disturbin...
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Thursday, September 01, 2011 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Facing Up to the Global Water Crisis

Source: Guardian.co.uk

With rising population growth and changes in the earth's climate putting stress on the consumable 1% of the planet's water , the global water crisis risks becoming a source of cross-border conflict. Sub-Saharan Africa is especially vulnerable given its dry climate, which is exacerbated b...
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