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, February 29, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Omidyar Network and ACCION Invest US $3.2 Million in Mobile Transactions International

Source: PR Newswire

Omidyar Network and ACCION International announced today that they have invested US $3.2 million in Mobile Transactions International, a Zambia-based company that leverages mobile technology and an agent network to enable financial transactions across the Zambian economy. The $4 million investment round also includes $500,000 in converted debt funding from Mennonite Economic Development Associates.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 — South Asia

Responsible lending key to microfinance

Source: Live Mint

Mumbai: Microfinance institutions (MFIs) are still struggling for recovery after a crisis triggered by an Andhra Pradesh law in October 2010 that reined in MFIs, which lend small sums of money to poor borrowers; the state is India’s biggest market for such loans. The MFI sector was the subject of a Mint Clarity Through Debate event in Mumbai last week. Responsible lending is is key for the sector’s revival, according to the participants. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor K.C. Chakrabarty; director of the Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning Usha Thorat; Basix group chairman Vijay Mahajan; chairman and managing director of Small Industries Development Bank of India Sushil Muhnot; International Finance Corporation’s regional manager, financial markets and private equity, Manoj Prashar; and Bandhan Financial Services Pvt. Ltd chairman Chandra Shekhar Ghosh were the panellists in the discussion. Mint’s deputy managing editor Tamal Bandyopadhyay moderated the discussion. Edited excerpts:
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Opinion: Bill Gates' Support of GM Crops is Wrong Approach for Africa

Source: The Seattle Times

Bill Gates' support of genetically modified (GM) crops as a solution for world hunger is of concern to those of us involved in promoting sustainable, equitable and effective agricultural policies in Africa. There are two primary shortcomings to Gates' approach.
Monday, February 27, 2012 — No Region Specified

Former Chairman of SKS Microfinance Akula Shares Lessons Learned

Source: Harvard Social Enterprise Conference

Vikram Akula, the former Chairman of SKS Microfinance, broke his silence today about the mistakes he made in his social venture, in a speech at the Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard. Akula acknowledged the legitimacy of the criticism he had received from Mohammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor and Founder of Grameen Bank, who had long taken issue with SKS’s deployment of private capital in microfinance and its profit orientation.
Friday, February 24, 2012 — South Asia

Micro-lender's Own Probe Links It to 200 Suicides

Source: The Seattle Times

First they were stripped of their utensils, furniture, mobile phones, televisions, ration cards and heirloom gold jewelry. Then, some of them drank pesticide. One woman threw herself in a pond. Another jumped into a well with her children.
Friday, February 24, 2012 — No Region Specified

The EzyStove Improves On Man’s Greatest Invention, Fire

Source: FastCo.Design

Can designers build a better fire? For developing countries, they had to.
Friday, February 24, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya: Total's Solar Kits Target Poor Households

Source: allAfrica

Total Kenya is banking on portable solar kits for lighting and charging of mobile phones to break into the Kenyan renewable energy market.
Thursday, February 23, 2012 — No Region Specified

The State and Future of Impact Investing

Source: Forbes

In a recent interview with Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO of Nonprofit Finance Fund, we discussed his new book about the impact investing sector, emerging trends and ideas in this space, challenges and opportunities moving forward, what the world would look like if the potential of impact investing were to be realized, and advice to traditional investors interested in becoming an impact investor.
Thursday, February 23, 2012 — South Asia

Anudip Foundation to Raise Up to Rs 3.21Cr from Omidyar Network

Source: VCCircle

This is Omidyar’s third funding deal in India in as many months after backing Teach For India and Aspiring Minds.
Thursday, February 23, 2012 — No Region Specified

Bill Gates to UN: Find new ways to help poor farmers; announces $200 million in grants

Source: AP/Washington Post

ROME — Current approaches to global agriculture are outdated, inefficient and don’t give small farmers in poor countries the help they really need, Bill Gates told U.N. food agencies Thursday as he announced nearly $200 million in grants. The Microsoft founder brought his campaign to fight poverty and hunger in Africa and Asia to a forum of the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), one of three Rome-based U.N. food agencies. Much of some $2 billion spent over the past five years to fight poverty and hunger in Africa and Asia by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has gone toward improving agricultural productivity.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 — Asia Pacific

Alliance Pushes Social Entrepreneurship Bill

Source: Manilla Bulletin Publishing Corporation

An alliance of farmers, workers, community enterprises, business associations and fair trade groups is pushing for the approval of a measure designed to institutionalize social entrepreneurship (SE) nationwide.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 — South Asia

Muhammad Yunus, IIM-A Set to Float Rs 50 Crore Fund to Seed Social Business

Source: The Economic Times

MUMBAI: Professor Muhammad Yunus, the father of microfinance and chairman of the Yunus Centre in Bangladesh, has finally found a taker for his brand of social businesses in India. He is joining hands with the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) to float a Rs 50-crore fund to seed social ventures.
Friday, February 17, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The Quiet Revolution in Social Impact

Source: PandoDaily

There are currently 30 million African migrants who have left their home countries to find work elsewhere. They support more than 300 million people in their home countries, remitting essential food and goods, and in aggregate represent more than $10b in annual economic activity. This is an economy without an infrastructure, however, relying on informal channels and bribes to function. South African entrepreneur Suzana Moreira is working to change that. Her startup moWozauses SMS to help African migrants order, pay for, and select a place for parcel pickup.
Friday, February 17, 2012 — South Asia

Indian MFIs Have Deviated From Idea of Micro Credit: Muhammad Yunus

Source: The Economic Times

Microfinance institutions in India have deviated from the idea of micro credit, Professor Muhammad Yunus, chairman of Yunus Centre and pioneer of micro-credit, has said. "They (MFIs) moved away from the idea of micro credit. That has created all the problems," said Yunus, in a media brefing in Mumbai. "MFIs based in Andhra Pradesh have drifted from their mission.
Friday, February 17, 2012 — No Region Specified

E+Co Announces Plans to Scale Up Clean Energy Investments

Source: Press Release

E+Co, the non-profit leader in clean energy investing in small and medium enterprises in emerging markets, announced today that it will phase out its innovations unit to solely focus on and scale up clean energy investments in developing markets.
Thursday, February 16, 2012 — South Asia

Community Workers Help to Bridge Treatment Gap in Mental Health

Source: The Guardian

Training lay people can play a crucial role in helping to deliver effective care for depression and anxiety in resource-poor, primary healthcare settings
Thursday, February 16, 2012 — No Region Specified

Commercial MFIs Can Make Markets Work for the Poor

Source: The Economic Times

Commercial microfinance institutions (MFIs) are an exemplification of making markets work for the poor. Are they indeed? A recent piece of research, comparing the lending performance of for-profit MFIs with not-for-profit MFIs, shows that though for-profit MFIs serve close to three-quarters of the market, the evidence does not seem to indicate that these MFIs lend indiscriminately when compared to their peers.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Truly Local Power: African Wind Turbines Built From Scrap

Source: FastCo.Exist

Wind power isn’t used much in the developing world, since a turbine is much more expensive than a solar panel. But Access:energy is flipping that equation by finding ways to build the turbines in the communities where they’re needed.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 — South Asia

Social Innovators Seek to Balance Economic Sustainability and Impact

Source: Business Standard

Bridging the digital-divide in India has long been a cherished dream. While much is yet to happen, IT industry body Nasscom has taken initial steps to identify business models that can change the access of technology at the bottom of the pyramid. This year too, Nasscom presented awards to six businesses that are trying to bring social innovation. The awards showcase the impact and learnings from the ideas of winners that have gained shape, acceptance and success.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 — No Region Specified

World Bank President Robert Zoellick Tells Board He Will Step Down June 30

Source: The Washington Post

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Wednesday he is stepping down, raising the possibility that a non-American might be chosen for the first time to head the 187-nation lending organization.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Accion MFB Considers Customers’ Plight, Out With Low Interest Products

Source: Business Day

Accion Micro Finance Bank has come out with cheaper and low interest rate products to meet the needs of its customers.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 — South Asia

Vikram Gandhi Sets Up Own Investment Bank


It will handle domestic and cross-border deals and advise high networth individuals and global institutional investors such as pension funds and sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) which are looking to increase their allocation to India
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 — No Region Specified

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever: Winning with Purpose - A message to members of Business Fights Poverty

Source: Business Fights Poverty

Business has been a powerful force in improving the lives of millions of people on our planet – whether through product and service innovation, job creation or new opportunities for suppliers and distributors. Yet, I believe business can do so much more.
Monday, February 13, 2012 — No Region Specified

The Future of mHealth: Mobile Phones Improve Care in Developing World

Source: Forbes

People in developing nations depend on mobile phones to access health services and prevent disease, as mobile technology creates a platform for improving healthcare in remote, underserved areas.
Monday, February 13, 2012 — South Asia

Microfinance Project Helping Low Income Group In Singapore

Source: Justmeans

An innovative MicroCredit Business Scheme (MCBS) has been launched in Singapore to help people from low-income backgrounds create a sustainable income by establishing or expanding their small businesses. The project is a pioneering initiative in Singapore that is being implement as a collaboration between POSBank (POSB), Tote Board, and the Social Enterprise Hub.
Monday, February 13, 2012 — South Asia

Brac Programme Lifting 'Ultra-poor' Out of Poverty in Bangladesh

Source: The Guardian

The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee is helping communities escape extreme poverty by providing individuals with livestock and a monthly payment for two years
Friday, February 10, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Mobile Phones Will Not Save the Poorest of the Poor

Source: Slate

Entrepreneurs, businesses, NGOs, and governments exalt mobile technology as a game-changing tool to fight global poverty. But what if our eagerness to connect the world is inadvertently exacerbating the global economic divide? The cost of cellphone-based services is hurting huge swaths of the developing world.
Friday, February 10, 2012 — South Asia

Students Learn a Trade in Afghanistan Hotspot

Source: PBS

Mercy Corps is working in southern Afghanistan to connect craftsmen with their countrymen and women so they can make a living and better their lives.
Friday, February 10, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Benin Makes Headway in Attempt to Reduce Deaths from Malaria

Source: The Guardian

Last year Benin announced free treatment for malaria, and has now followed up by cracking down on fake drugs and recruiting an army of outreach health workers
Thursday, February 9, 2012 — South Asia

Akhuwat: Making Microfinance Work

Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review

A groundbreaking microfinance model is bringing out the best in society and bucking the trend of giving out loans that could realistically never be paid back.
Thursday, February 9, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

U.C. Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley Lab Part of White House Poverty Push

Source: San Francisco Business Times

Both the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory above it on the hill are part of a public-private push to fight poverty around the world.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 — No Region Specified

Are Mobile Solutions Overhyped?

Source: CNN

Are mobiles just another high-tech solution to what are essentially systemic and deeply rooted problems? Are mobile solutions for combating global poverty overhyped?
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 — South Asia

Indian Eye Clinic Uses Tiered Pricing to Combat Blindness Among Poor

Source: The Guardian

An expanding network of eye clinics has found an innovative way of providing quality, affordable treatment to millions of blind and visually impaired poor people in India
Tuesday, February 7, 2012 — No Region Specified

Avoiding the “Hope Bubble”

Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review

We must invest in the financial literacy of social entrepreneurs and in the social literacy of investors.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Microfinance Services in Ghana Greeted With Hope, Concern

Source: Voice of America

Microfinance, providing financial services to low-income clients, has gained popularity in Ghana in the past 20 years and has played an important role in helping the poor - especially women - improve their lives.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012 — Latin America

Empowering the Haitian People

Source: UVU Review

Sustain Haiti is a non-denominational, independent group of Haitians, development specialists, students, social entrepreneurs, and concerned citizens based in Provo, UT. It was created and began sending volunteers and aid to the country of Haiti after a 7.0 earthquake rocked the country in January of 2010.
Monday, February 6, 2012 — No Region Specified

McGraw-Hill Research Foundation Policy Paper Shows How Social Entrepreneurship Provides Innovative Solutions to Global Education

Source: PR Newswire

In the last decade, social entrepreneurship has been touted as one of the most promising ways to solve some of the world's problematic issues. How Social Entrepreneurship is Helping to Improve Education Worldwide, a McGraw-Hill Research Foundation policy paper, outlines specific ways in which social enterprise is improving education in the U.S. and in developing countries.
Monday, February 6, 2012 — South Asia

IDA to Help Improve Irrigation System in Pakistan

Source: devex

The World Bank’s concessional lending arm is providing $250 million to help improve water and agricultural productivity in the Pakistani province of Punjab.
Monday, February 6, 2012 — South Asia

Unitus Seed Fund Launches with Three Social Enterprise Investments in India

Source: Press Release

New Unitus Labs Initiative Seeks to Accelerate Development of Innovative Startups Which Have the Potential to Significantly Benefit Families Living on Less Than $2 Per Day
Friday, February 3, 2012 — No Region Specified

A winning model of health insurance for the poor

Source: Economic Times

Access to healthcare in India has certainly improved over the past few decades. All indices point in this direction. However, India still languishes amongst the worst providers of healthcare. Out-of-pocket expenses are the primary cause of indebtedness for the poor. The key issue is how to reach out to the population at the bottom of the pyramid. Is there a model that is socially desirable, politically acceptable, technologically feasible and financially sustainable?
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Friday, February 3, 2012 — No Region Specified

Business coalition re-established in run-up to Rio+20

Source: The Guardian

The temporary coalition of the Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) has been re-established to coordinate the participation of the private sector to Rio+20 and enhance its contribution to sustainable and inclusive markets. Business is willing to step up its efforts to raise more awareness about its existing commitments and achievements already made. At the same time, industry will continue to broaden and deepen its thinking towards Rio+20 on key themes of the conference.
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Thursday, February 2, 2012 — No Region Specified

The Real Architects of Social Change: Live from Davos

Source: CSRwire

Everybody seemed to agree that the world is now facing some serious problems: Climate change, persistent poverty and inequality, the failure of financial systems, environmental degradation, the impeding exhaustion of cheap minerals and oil and so on. And everybody seemed determine to provide solutions to these problems. Prominent among these proposed solutions: Social entrepreneurship.
Thursday, February 2, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Is the Social Enterprise Bubble About to Burst?

Source: GOOD

Over the past two months, GOOD has profiled organizations in Africa using market solutions to solve water and sanitation challenges, improve agriculture, and promote public health. Social enterprises like these are transforming development work, and social entrepreneurs are being hailed as rock stars. But social enterprise isn’t the first trend to hit the development sector. From women’s empowerment to “sustainability” to microfinance, the aid community has moved through its stash of silver bullets. What makes social enterprise any different?
Thursday, February 2, 2012 — South Asia

BRAC puts Entrepreneurs to Work Providing Clean Toilets for Millions

Source: PRWeb

In Bangladesh, the development organization's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program gives millions of the rural poor a fresh start with latrines at prices fair to buyers and sellers alike.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 — No Region Specified

The Trouble With Impact Investing – Part 1

Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review

On its face, impact investing seems like a great deal—organizations get cheap money (er, “patient capital”) and investors get real impact. It’s great when it works that way, but the case for impact is often dubious, and there is a lot of confusion about when impact investing works and when it doesn’t.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 — No Region Specified

GSK's Andrew Witty on the Future of Pharma Collaboration to Help Poor Countries

Source: The Guardian

Just before the all-singing, all-dancing launch of the big initiative to control or eliminate 10 neglected diseases – starring 13 CEOs from Big Pharma, the WHO's director general, Margaret Chan, and Bill Gates – I grabbed a few words with Sir Andrew Witty, head of GlaxoSmithKline, who co-chaired the negotiations over the past year with Gates.
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