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, March 30, 2012 — No Region Specified

Is Microfinance an Engine of Development? Finca Says Yes

Source: The Guardian

The jury is still out on whether microcredit makes a difference to the lives of the poor, but stories of its success are compelling
Friday, March 30, 2012 — Asia Pacific

BoP Boom in Japan Part I

Source: CSR Asia

The year 2009 was referred to as “The first year of BoP in Japan”. Not only did the Japanese translation of the late Prof. Prahalad’s “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” received much attention, BoP market analyzation that focused on emerging markets in Asia and African countries gained wide recognition too.
Friday, March 30, 2012 — Asia Pacific

All Wrong On Poverty & Aid


IT is our claim that the debates on poverty and aid have gone off the rails. On poverty, it is too narrow, quibbling about a few percentage points above or below some historical number.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 — No Region Specified

Is Sustainable Local Development A Persuasive Alternative to Microfinance?

Source: The Guardian

Milford Bateman has made a cogent case for community-based financial institutions that prioritise sustainable local solutions
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Cape Town's Women Take the Lead in Farm-Focused Social Enterprise

Source: GOOD

Abalimi’s profitable social business, Harvest of Hope, relies on a community-supported agriculture model that provides customers (who pay in advance) a box of fresh, organically grown produce harvested from community gardens each week.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 — South Asia

Angel Deals May Get Tax Breather

Source: VCCircle

Individual investment up to Rs 5 crore and total deal of Rs 10 crore may be exempted.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 — No Region Specified

Microcredit Is Expanding to New Products for the Poor

Source: Voice of America

We spoke to Ghiyath Nakshbendi about changes in the world of microfinance. He is an expert in international business and teaches microfinance as a business model at the Kogod School of Business at American University.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Investing in Agriculture Most Effective Way to Eradicate Poverty in Africa – UN

Source: UN News Centre

With the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) just three years away, a senior United Nations official today emphasized that spending on agriculture is the most effective type of investment for halting poverty in Africa.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 — Europe & Eurasia

The Argidius Foundation and ANDE Announce Finance Challenge to Stimulate Small Businesses in Emerging Markets

Source: Press Release

Competition aimed at providing entrepreneurial finance will award up to two million euros
Monday, March 26, 2012 — Asia Pacific

Microfinance Experience in PHL Shows the Poor Can Be Insured

Source: BusinessMirror

The Philippine success in extending microfinance credit to the poor shows that this sector at and below the poverty threshold could also become worthy of insurance coverage, the Insurance Commission here said.
Monday, March 26, 2012 — South Asia

World Bank Chief in India, Focus on Poverty Alleviation

Source: Business Standard

World Bank Group President Robert B Zoellick begins an official visit to India tomorrow, to see what more it can do to support government efforts to overcome poverty, as India embarks on its 12th five-year Plan and global recovery remains fragile.
Monday, March 26, 2012 — No Region Specified

How the Developing World is Using Cellphone Technology to Change Lives


In Nigeria, a young girl can ask questions about sex discretely through SMS and get accurate information. After the earthquake in Haiti, survivors in remote towns could receive money for food straight to their cellphone. In Senegal, election monitors sent updates on polling stations through their mobile phones, revising an online map in real time with details about late openings or worse. Projects like Learning about Living in Nigeria, MercyCorps in Haiti and Senevote2012 in Senegal are just a few examples of how the rapid spread of mobile technology has changed life in the global south.
Friday, March 23, 2012 — South Asia

Omidyar Network Backs Two More Indian Firms


Omidyar Network started funding projects in India about two years ago with plans to invest up to $200 million in five years
Friday, March 23, 2012 — No Region Specified

How Jim Yong Kim Could Change the World Bank

Source: The Washington Post

Jim Yong Kim, President Obama’ssurprise pick to lead the World Bank, will become the first physician, the first Asian-American and the first person who has devoted his career to helping the poor to lead the more than 60-year-old organization.
Thursday, March 22, 2012 — Asia Pacific

Economists Demonstrate One Size Does Not Fit All for Microfinance Programs

Source: MarketWatch

New Study Reveals Wide Variance in Results from Thai Million Baht Village Fund Large-scale microfinance programs are widely used as a tool to fight poverty in developing countries, but a recent study from the Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty suggests that they can have varying results for participants and may be the most cost-effective use of funds only in limited situations.
Thursday, March 22, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

One Acre Fund Helps Africa's Small Farmers Keep in Their Fields

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

The One Acre Fund provides access to microloans, training, insurance, and other hard-to-get help that boosts farmers' incomes and curbs flight from farms into cities.
Thursday, March 22, 2012 — South Asia

Growth Busts Poverty

Source: The Times of India

Poverty estimates between 2004-05 and 2009-10 show a sharp reduction in the absolute number of the poor by 52.5 million to 354.7 million.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 — South Asia

A Changing Innovation Landscape


At a time when the global economy continues to be in a state of flux and the emerging economies are also beginning to feel the impact of this uncertainty, my mind races to the proverbial thought of viewing the glass as half empty or half full. I choose the latter.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 — North Africa and Near East

GroFin Expands Pool of SME Funding to $323 million, Enters Three New Countries

Source: Press Release

GroFin, the multinational pioneer of growth finance working to create real impact through the support of small and medium businesses, has announced a growth in funds under management from $260 million to $323 million.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 — South Asia

Is India Misrepresenting Its Poverty Numbers?

Source: The Washington Post

India’s poverty figures fluctuate wildly, anywhere from 300 million people to 800 million people, depending on whom you ask.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 — South Asia

Symbiosis Project to Help Light Up Village Homes

Source: The Times of India

PUNE: Students from the Social Entrepreneurship and Consulting Cell of Symbiosis Institute of Business Management ( SIBM) have come up with a project to provide low-cost lighting units to rural households without electricity.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 — Latin America

Tigo Helps Remittances Go Mobile

Source: Fast Company

In countries like Guatemala, remittances from migrant workers in the U.S. are critical to the economy. Tigo, an international telecom, has a unique plan to use mobile banking to simplify a trying process.
Monday, March 19, 2012 — No Region Specified

Jeff Raikes, CEO, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: A Message to Members of Business Fights Poverty

Source: Business Fights Poverty

We spend a lot of our time trying to convince skeptics that they should care about development. Bill Gates made the case very convincingly in his report to the G20 delivered last November. He argues from the supply side: successfully developing countries can keep the price of key commodities low by boosting production – important in ensuring food security. And he argues from the demand side: successfully developing countries can keep markets humming by boosting consumption. In the U.S., exports to developing countries are growing six times faster than exports to developed countries.
Monday, March 19, 2012 — Asia Pacific

Facebook-style Microcredit Site Helps China Farmers

Source: NewStraitsTimes

BEIJING: Dairy farmer Deligeerma needs 642 to buy fodder for her cows during the harsh winter months in northern China. So far, she has received 149 in pledges from four people around the world.
Monday, March 19, 2012 — South Asia

Start-ups to be Taxed on Funds from Angel Investors


Start-ups raising money from angel investors will have to pay income tax from April on the funds they receive after the national budget on Friday proposed to treat the capital received as income from other sources, if the consideration received for issue of shares exceeds the face value of such shares.
Friday, March 16, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Namibia: Chinese Enterprise in the Country - Panelised House Manufacturer

Source: allAfrica

It goes without saying that Chinese companies, be it a trade company, or a construction company or a service provider, or a manufacturer, are one of the contributors to Namibian socio-economic development with respect to poverty reduction, infrastructure improvement, employment creation, business vision, technical know-how, market and commodity competition system and working ethics among others.
Friday, March 16, 2012 — Europe & Eurasia

Finding the Line Between Technical and Political Solutions to Water Challenges

Source: The Guardian

Technology can increase access to water and sanitation; other solutions seem to hinge on policy. But are the two areas distinct?
Friday, March 16, 2012 — No Region Specified

Need Blind: Vision Spring and Warby Parker Shake Up Eyewear With Impact

Source: GOOD

Social enterprises Warby Parker and VisionSpring are finding innovative ways to bring glasses to people who can’t afford huge markups. VisionSpring, a nonprofit social enterprise, focuses on selling low-cost glasses to people earning between $1 and $4 per day. Warby Parker, a for-profit B-Corp, sells affordable eyewear in the domestic market while donating a pair of frames to VisionSpring for each pair it sells.
Thursday, March 15, 2012 — South Asia

Organic Farming Promises to Yield a Sustainable Future for India's Rural Poor

Source: The Guardian

Organic agricultural practices are improving prospects for India's farmers by providing greater profit and sustainability
Thursday, March 15, 2012 — No Region Specified

UN: Soaring Demands Will Add More Stress to World Water Supplies

Source: Voice of America

Despite recent good news that millions more people now have access to potable water, a new report finds sharply rising demands for water threaten a myriad of development goals.
Thursday, March 15, 2012 — South Asia

Tara Thiagarajan Wants the Poor to Get More Out of Their Micro Borrowings

Source: Forbes India

Tara Thiagarajan believes that microfinance institutions (MFIs) have been pursuing the wrong goal. Instead of scale, they should be looking to make loans more effective. That means borrowers should get more out of their borrowings. Along with credit, they should also get the tools and the benefits of a large network to make the most of the credit.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 — South Asia

For a New Highway, from Rio to Delhi

Source: The Hindu

Brazil and India can benefit from each other's experience for an inclusive development agenda.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 — No Region Specified

What Went Wrong with Microfinance?

Source: Time

Long before “99%” became a symbol of Occupy Wall Street, the microfinance industry used the number to describe the share of its clients — poor entrepreneurs shunned by traditional banks — who repaid their micro-loans on time. It’s a number used less and less in microfinance these days — not because of Occupy Wall Street, but because many micro-borrowers are starting to default.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 — South Asia

N Sundaresha Subramanian: Why the SME Exchange Needs a Big Hand

Source: Business Standard

For the third time in the Indian stock market history, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) now have a new platform to access funds from people other than friends and family in the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) SME exchange that completed its first initial public offer (IPO) in February.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 — No Region Specified

Selling to the World's Poor Offers Huge Potential

Source: Canadian Business

It might seem counterintuitive, but setting your sights on the world’s four billion poorest people can be remarkably lucrative. Just ask Suneet Singh Tuli. The CEO of wireless-device manufacturer DataWind Ltd. says his Montreal-based company’s revenue could soar from less than $10 million last year to more than $300 million next year, thanks to the stripped-down tablet computer it developed to sell in India: “It’s an astonishing rate of growth.”
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 — No Region Specified

Citi Leads Investment in SJF's New Fund

Source: The Wall Street Journal

he team at SJF Ventures had to undergo federal background checks, submit fingerprints and provide 20 references each in order to obtain a license from the Small Business Administration for its new nationally focused impact investment fund, SJF Ventures III LP. The fund could be a potential new funding source for some start-ups with a social good focus.
Monday, March 12, 2012 — No Region Specified

The Right Entry Point for Emerging Markets

Source: Bloomberg

Scott Anthony recently participated in a spirited panel discussion with Bruce Brown, Procter & Gamble's Chief Technology Officer, and Erich Joachimsthaler, Vivaldi Partners' managing director and CEO. The topic — part of a series on innovation sponsored by Singapore's Economic Development Board and coordinated by Harvard Business Review — was "What's the Right Entry Point for Emerging Markets: Target Customers at the Bottom or the Middle of the Pyramid?"
Monday, March 12, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Enterprise Sets Up Service Centres for Livestock Farmers

Source: Business Daily

A social enterprise has opened 16 livestock service centres to help farmers improve production through better extension services.
Monday, March 12, 2012 — South Asia

Interest-free Microfinance Hope for Poor Muslims

Source: The Times of India

Making headlines in the recent past for crushing interest rates claiming lives of debtors, microfinance is now being offered with a more humane approach. The Human Welfare Foundation will now offer loans in the form of interest-free microfinance to the poor across the country including Hyderabad, said vice president of Jamat-e-Islami Hind Prof K A Siddique Hassan here on Saturday.
Monday, March 12, 2012 — North Africa and Near East

Kiva and Silatech Launch Online Entrepreneur Micro-loans


Online micro-lending platform Kiva has announced a partnership with Qatar's Silatech to develop an online funding programme for young Arab entrepreneurs.
Friday, March 9, 2012 — South Asia

Using Microfinance to Bring Clean Water to India's Poor

Source: The Huffington Post

A unique public-private partnership involving private sector giants like Unilever and Heinz is improving the health of Indian children. Two hours outside India's tech hub Bangalore is Krishnagiri the Integrated Village Development Project (IVDP) is using interest-free microfinance loans to increase access to products people could not afford on their own.
Friday, March 9, 2012 — Asia Pacific

IFC To Start $100M Microfinance Debt Fund

Source: VCCircle

International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector investment arm of the World Bank Group, along with two other investors, will set up a $100 million debt fund called Micro Finance Initiative for Asia (MIFA), to address the funding needs of microfinance institutions in developing and underdeveloped economies.
Thursday, March 8, 2012 — No Region Specified

SC Johnson and Cornell Kick Off New Business with a WOW!

Source: Press Release

Cornell University's Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and SC Johnson today announced the launch of a new product concept developed in partnership that hopes to generate a "WOW" from rural consumers in developing markets. Recently unveiled in the village of Bobikuma, Ghana, WOW™ is a membership-based club whose products and services help low-income homemakers care for their homes and families.
Thursday, March 8, 2012 — No Region Specified

The Time to Empower Women is Now

Source: devex

The world celebrates the 101st International Women’s Day on March 8. But how have women’s empowerment and gender equality improved over the past years? Certainly, there have been advancements. The United States, for instance, has been able to incorporate gender issues in its first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and its Feed the Future and Global Health Initiative foreign aid programs.
Thursday, March 8, 2012 — No Region Specified

How Mobile Technology Can Help BoP Women Get Ahead


“Portraits: A Glimpse into the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid,” a report released at last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, is the first to survey the wants, needs, aspirations and mobile uses of women living at the base of the pyramid (BoP), defined as those living on less than $2 a day, according to the GSM Association.
Thursday, March 8, 2012 — Latin America

Tiny Loans, Tremendous Returns: Tales from the Microlending Frontier

Source: DailyFinance

Sometimes, small gestures can make huge differences in people's lives and livelihoods. That's the premise -- and the power -- of microlending.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 — No Region Specified

Cash Transfers Do Not Address the Underlying Causes of Women's Poverty

Source: The Guardian

Women need more than just small amounts of cash to escape poverty – the limited 'empowerment' of income support should be coupled with training and employment
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 — No Region Specified

B Lab Releases First 'Best for the World' List of Businesses Creating Most Overall Positive Social and Environmental Impact

Source: CSRwire

'Best for the World' businesses score 50% higher than nearly 2,000 other sustainable businesses in most comprehensive assessment of overall corporate impact
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 — Asia Pacific

ADB Plans to Invest $100M in Environment Fund

Source: Inquirer Business

The Asian Development Bank is expected to invest about $100 million in a multinational fund that will be put up to boost investments in environment-related technologies and projects in developing countries like the Philippines.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 — No Region Specified

UN Meets Millennium Development Goal on Drinking Water

Source: BBC

The Millennium Development Goal for access to clean water has been reached, ahead of the target date of 2015.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 — No Region Specified

Why the Global Economy Needs Businesses to Invest in Women

Source: The Daily Beast

Businesses are starting to understand what development experts have long known: investing in women pays dividends. Women are more likely than men to put their income back into their communities, driving illiteracy and mortality rates down and GDP up.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 — No Region Specified

A Fall to Cheer

Source: The Economist

For the first time ever, the number of poor people is declining everywhere
Monday, March 5, 2012 — South Asia

Solar-Powered Micro Grids Change Lives of Indian Villagers

Source: Treehugger

In Uttar Pradesh, one of India's poorest states, a pair of US-born entrepreneurs is creating a new model for energy delivery to villages far from the grid. The founders of Mera Gao Power build and operate solar-powered micro grids to provide low-cost lighting and mobile phone charging to village houses, giving many rural people access to both light and power for the first time in their lives.
Friday, March 2, 2012 — No Region Specified

Now for some good news: Two books argue that the future is brighter than we think

Source: The Economist

The lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is a small device with a huge potential. It can run dozens of diagnostic tests on human DNA in a few minutes. Give the device a gob of spit or a drop of blood and it will tell you whether or not you are sick without any need to send your DNA to a laboratory. In poor countries LOCs could offer diagnostics to millions who lack access to expensive laboratories. In the rich world they may curb rising medical costs.
Friday, March 2, 2012 — South Asia

Pathbreakers: Harish Hande, MD of Solar Electric Light Company (SELCO)

Source: Economic Times

Unable to ignore the poorest of the poor who live in abject darkness, Harish Hande decided to put his Master's in solar power to good use. Today, the 44-year-old MD of Solar Electric Light Company or SELCO, retains the same inclusive elan while reminiscing how his company continues to light up lives at the bottom of the pyramid.
Thursday, March 1, 2012 — South Asia

Creating an impact

Source: Malaysia Star

FOUNDER and chairwoman of Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX) in Singapore Durreen Shahnaz is seeking to create the Impact Exchange a social enterprise exchange. “By investing through the Impact Exchange, impact investors can significantly lower their market research and due diligence costs, as well as have liquidity in their investments thus allowing for more impact and wealth to be created and brought into the space,” she says.
Thursday, March 1, 2012 — No Region Specified

CGAP, Grameen Foundation, and MTN to Invest in Mobile Money Products for the Unbanked

Source: PR Newswire/Market Watch

Today at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, CGAP, Grameen Foundation, and MTN Uganda announced plans to introduce a new initiative to research and develop mobile financial products for the poor. CGAP, an independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world's poor, together with MTN and Grameen Foundation will provide US$1 million in financing to this initiative. The aim is to build upon the extensive research already conducted through Grameen Foundation's Application Laboratory (AppLab) in Uganda and to leverage MTN's successful Mobile Money service.
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