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
Thursday, May 31, 2012 — Asia Pacific

Little Impact Seen From China Private Capital Push

Source: Wall Street Journal

SHANGHAI—China's pledge to give private capital real access to the nation's lucrative banking sector has triggered more skepticism than excitement, with analysts saying entry barriers remain firmly in place.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Should Fighting Hunger Be a Franchise Business?

Source: GOOD

The idea of a business franchise is more likely to conjure an image of a Happy Meal than a famine food ration, but what if the same system that makes McDonald’s globally omnipresent could do the same for food aid or poverty-fighting?
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Escaping poverty on the back of a chicken

Source: The Guardian

In the dusty Nigerian village of Nwangele, a 13-year-old girl, Eziuche Chimdi, has escaped a life of oppression. She has only one tool - a chicken. Her life could easily have been very different. Poverty and traditional values dictate the lives of many young girls who will be forced to become child brides. 40 per cent of girls in Nigeria are married by the age of 15, and marriage puts an end to education. Once wedded, she will be subject to a life of servitude as the second or third wife to a man more than twice her age. Disobedience results in violence and young girls are sexually vulnerable and susceptible to HIV/AIDS - the biggest killer of women in Nigeria.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012 — North Africa and Near East

Middle East Social Entrepreneurship Faces Challenges, but No Shortage of Volunteers

Source: Arabic Knowledge@Wharton

The Arab Spring brought tumult to the Middle East, but the demonstrations have also ushered in new aspects to civil life in Arab society. Egypt this past week saw its first free presidential elections in its history as a result, and Arab youth across the region have used new media as an unfiltered way to express themselves and organize as they never could before.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012 — No Region Specified

Why Companies Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Their Social Responsibilities

Source: TIME

In 1970, the economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman published an article in The New York Times Magazine titled, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.” In the article, he referred to corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs as “hypocritical window-dressing,” and said that businesspeople inclined toward such programs “reveal a suicidal impulse.” Even four decades ago, at a time of growing public concern for the environment, his views represented the general skepticism and contempt with which many in Corporate America viewed CSR.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 — Europe & Eurasia

What Exactly Is Social Entrepreneurship?

Source: Forbes

We’re talking about success and social value. Today many people lump this in a special category: social entrepreneurship. We’re not sure exactly what that is, so we’re interested in learning more. As it turns out, so were two Tuck class of 2013 students, Christopher Halstedt and Brad Callow. This past spring they did an independent study Senior Associate Dean Bob Hansen and Gregg on exactly this topic. They set out to see if they could understand what exactly is social entrepreneurship and how it creates social value. Here are some excerpts from what they found:
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 — South Asia

Young managers from top firms barter fat pay checks to join political system

Source: The Economic Times

MUMBAI: Come June, Vaibhav Lodha will swap his pinstripes for crisp white khadi. The 27-year-old manager with Bangalore-based analytics company Mu Sigma is set to leave a high-paying job, where he is serving his notice period, to work as a consultant for parliamentarian Anurag Thakur in Himachal Pradesh.
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Friday, May 25, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Can Funding Entrepreneurs in the Developing World Create 1 Million Jobs?

Source: Mashable

Big Idea: The Adventure Project is an alternative funding organization that supports entrepreneurs in developing countries, with the goal to produce one million jobs within the next ten years.
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Friday, May 25, 2012 — South Asia

Rural women in Gujarat get energy-efficient products

Source: Times of India

AHMEDABAD: International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is helping Ahmedabad-based Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) provide energy-efficient cook stoves and solar lanters to its members. IFC will provide a partial credit guarantee for a $5 million loan that an Indian private sector bank is providing to SEWA-sponsored Grassroots Trading Network for Women.
Friday, May 25, 2012 — South Asia

Yes, Microfinance Does Work. Here's How...

Source: Huffington Post

By now, anyone with an interest in microfinance or poverty alleviation has read the criticism. There are tragic crises in Andhra Pradesh, the regrettable stepping-down of Muhammad Yunus from Grameen, and provocative headlines in the media claiming to refute microcredit's effectiveness. However, I feel strongly that if readers listen only to the white noise, they'll do themselves and the microfinance industry a disservice and, more to the point, they'll be misled.
Thursday, May 24, 2012 — Latin America

A Middle Man Could Bring Smartphones to Millions of Mexicans for the First Time

Source: GOOD

After two years of intentionally losing money in a very smart way, a Mexican cell phone company is set to change the way the country’s consumers use mobile phones to access the internet. If their plan works, it could transform not only the Mexican phone industry, but consumer finance systems in developing countries around the globe.
Thursday, May 24, 2012 — Latin America

Brazil's historically poor northeast finally gets its boom

Source: Los Angeles Times

RECIFE, Brazil — The Brazilian state of Pernambuco was once known for its vast plains of parched dirt and roving bandits called cangacos, who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. For later generations, escaping the widespread poverty of the northeast customarily meant moving to livelier southeastern cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, though many migrants still ended up living in favelas, or slums.
Thursday, May 24, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

FXB International Releases Graduate Tracer Study

Source: FXB

(New York, NY) – Today FXB International released a Graduate Tracer Study. Among the exciting results include findings that, from their starting point as the poorest households in their communities, FXB-Village participants in Rwanda and Uganda show greatly increased income and savings. Additionally, the study shows that FXB-Village participants have vastly improved access to clean drinking water and are more likely to own their homes, and children are much more likely to be enrolled in school than they were at the beginning of the program. In each of the three study areas, the results show that the FXB-Village program significantly improves the lives of these participants.
Thursday, May 24, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

'Explore cocoa potential,' ICCO urges manufacturers

Source: Daily Times

The International Cocoa Coordination Organisation (ICCO), on Wednesday, urged Nigerian manufacturers to explore the potential of cocoa, so as to produce more cocoa-based goods.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Scaling up the fight against poverty and hunger in Africa


Agriculture is a powerful tool for reducing poverty and hunger. Events of recent years – such as food price increases, droughts, growing climate change impacts and other emergencies – have put agriculture high on the international agenda. We should be clear that agriculture is the solution. Economic growth generated by agriculture is more than twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other sectors. Agricultural development is also an effective means of assisting developing countries in building capacity and infrastructure as well as introducing innovation and technology.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 — Asia Pacific

The ‘Grandfather’ of Social Enterprise, Steve Lawrence Dies

Source: Pro Bono Australia

The man described as the the grandfather of social enterprise in Australia, Steve Lawrence has died after a long battle with cancer aged 60.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 — South Asia

Reality Check at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Source: Harvard Business Review

Most companies trying to do business with the 4 billion people who make up the world’s poor follow a formula long touted by bottom-of-the-pyramid experts: Offer products at extremely low prices and margins, and hope to generate decent profits by selling enormous quantities of them. This “low price, low margin, high volume” model has held sway for more than a decade, largely on the basis of Hindustan Unilever’s success in selling Wheel brand detergent to low-income consumers in India.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Grameen Foundation, KfW and CARE's Access Africa Fund Invest in World's First 100% Mobile Microfinance Institution

Source: PR Newswire/Market Watch

Grameen Foundation, KfW and CARE's Access Africa Fund announced they have each purchased a 25 percent stake in Musoni Kenya, the first microfinance institution to provide financial services to the poor entirely via mobile phones. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, it provides microloans largely to people who are underserved by the formal financial sector. This investment will help Musoni Kenya grow its operations, deepen its penetration in rural areas where financial inclusion is lowest, and pave the way for it to receive a license to accept savings deposits from the Central Bank of Kenya.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 — No Region Specified

India Government Introduces Bill to Regulate Microfinance

Source: Wall Street Journal

NEW DELHI – The Indian government Tuesday introduced a bill in Parliament that will give power to the country's central bank to regulate the microfinance sector, where companies lend to small borrowers. Introduced in the lower house of Parliament by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the Microfinance Institutions (Development and Regulations) Bill will give powers to the Reserve Bank of India to set the maximum interest rate that can be charged by micro lenders. The RBI will also set performance standards for the institutions and ensure that they use "fair and reasonable methods" for the recovery of loans.
Friday, May 18, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Owning a mobile phone does not move you to the middle class

Source: New Vision

James Ogule, who lives in Namugongo, a Kampala surburb, thinks the vendors selling matooke (plantains) by the road to his house should not be considered middle class. The vendors spend more than $2 (sh5,200) a day and Ogule who works with a government regulatory body thinks equating a middle class to sh5,200 a day is a pity.
Friday, May 18, 2012 — South Asia

Hope springs a trap

Source: The Economist

THE idea that an infusion of hope can make a big difference to the lives of wretchedly poor people sounds like something dreamed up by a well-meaning activist or a tub-thumping politician. Yet this was the central thrust of a lecture at Harvard University on May 3rd by Esther Duflo, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology known for her data-driven analysis of poverty. Ms Duflo argued that the effects of some anti-poverty programmes go beyond the direct impact of the resources they provide. These programmes also make it possible for the very poor to hope for more than mere survival.
Friday, May 18, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Obama turns to private sector to feed world's poor

Source: Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Friday reached out to the private sector in hopes of lifting 50 million people in the developing world from poverty, as wealthy nations grapple with a budget crunch.
Thursday, May 17, 2012 — South Asia

Lok Capital and Acumen Fund announce Rs. 7 crore investment in Hippocampus Learning Centres

Source: Acumen Fund Blog

Bangalore, May 2012: Lok Capital, one of the largest dedicated funds in India for businesses focused on serving the lower income and base of the pyramid (BOP) customer segments and Acumen Fund, a pioneering nonprofit global venture firm addressing poverty in South Asia, East and West Africa, today announce Rs. 7 crore investment in Hippocampus Learning Centres (HLC), a for-profit rural education service provider in India. This is Lok Capital’s and Acumen’s first investment in Education and marks the launch of their respective education portfolios. Based in Karnataka, India, HLC provides affordable, quality education by employing and training local female teachers who coach students between the ages of 3-12 in both pre-school and primary instruction.
Thursday, May 17, 2012 — Europe & Eurasia

Social Edge to Merge with Skoll World Forum

Source: Skoll Foundation/Press Release

The Skoll Foundation today announced the merging of Social Edge and Skoll World Forum into a new year-round platform, Skoll World Forum Online:
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 — South Asia

Genpact to buy VentureEast-backed Atyati Technologies

Source: VCCircle

Business processing outsourcing major Genpact Ltd has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Atyati Technologies, a technology platform provider for the rural banking sector in India. The terms of the transaction, including the stake acquired and the deal value, remain undisclosed. The deal is expected to close in 3-4 weeks.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Can mobile banking boost financial inclusion in Nigeria?

Source: How We Made It in Africa

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with around 167 million people, mobile banking has been relatively slow to take off. This is, however, changing. Last year the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued the first operating licences to 11 companies to provide mobile banking services.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 — South Asia

Nachiket Mor: The Business Of Morality

Source: Forbes India

In India, businesses and businessmen, particularly from the private sector, have always been viewed with some suspicion. Given our underlying socialist ethos, this is perhaps not surprising, but in recent times, this has worsened with reportage about the various means that some businesses have used to gain an advantage, be it bribing government officials and elected representatives, indulging in coercive practices with their customers, misusing monopoly power, concealing information, or ill-treating employees.
Monday, May 14, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Uganda's Middle Class Grows As Poverty Dips

Source: AllAfrica

Kampala — The number of absolutely poor Ugandans has dropped to 7.5 million (24.5%) from 8.5 million (31.1%) as of 2010, a Ministry of Finance status report released in Kampala shows.
Monday, May 14, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Social Innovators in Africa Awarded

Source: Justmeans

Five African social innovators have been included in the World Economic Forum's list of Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2012. The awards were announced at the Ethiopian summit of the WEF by Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman of WEF.
Monday, May 14, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Growth Isn't Meeting Needs of Young, Poor: Report

Source: Wall Street Journal

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—Foreign investment and increasing exports are propelling high economic growth rates in Africa, but haven't established enough jobs to substantially reduce poverty or meet the high expectations of the continent's large number of youths and poor, according to an annual economic progress report released Friday at the World Economic Forum's meeting here.
Friday, May 11, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Progress Panel calls on African governments to drive towards MDGs

Source: The Guardian

African governments and donor countries should launch a "big push" this year towards meeting the millennium development goals (MDGs), according to a high-level panel.
Friday, May 11, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Emerging markets forecast to drive dairy industry boom

Source: BusinessDay

AT A time when SA’s dairy industry is losing milk producers because of the sector’s limited viability, an international index has forecast growth for the industry from an expected rise in prosperity and buying power among consumers in emerging markets including Africa.
Friday, May 11, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The bank of SMS

Source: The Economist

AFRICA is the continent where “mobile money”—monetary transactions on mobile phones—is by far the most advanced. According to a new survey of financial habits by the Gates Foundation, the World Bank and Gallup, in 20 countries more than 10% of adults said that they had used mobile money at some point in the previous 12 months; 15 of those countries were in Africa.
Thursday, May 10, 2012 — South Asia

India Needs to Liberalize Further to Combat Poverty: Pitroda

Source: India West

The U.S.-India Business Council, in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, held the first annual U.S. India Business Summit-West, titled “Building Bridges, Fostering Innovation,” at the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel here April 26 and 27 (Read: India-US N-Deal 'One of My Proudest Moments': Condi Rice).
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Thursday, May 10, 2012 — South Asia

New Apps for the Bottom Billion

Source: Technology Review

When it comes to mobile communications, there's still a lot of room for innovation at the bottom. In Bangalore, India, researchers from the University of Toronto and Microsoft are now imagining new business models for the world's poorest phone owners by adapting a little-known protocol that can receive pictures as bitmapped text messages. The technology could readily be used in the roughly 1.5 billion low-end Nokia and Samsung phones in circulation.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 — No Region Specified

World Bank unit, MasterCard Foundation boost crucial small loans in Africa

Source: Associated Press

A World Bank partner devoted to developing the private sector and The MasterCard Foundation will spend millions of dollars so more impoverished Africans can get loans and other financial services, officials said.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Shopping for a Better World

Source: New York Times

To be successful in business today, a company must do more than just sell a good product. According to a recent study (pdf), 80 percent of Americans are likely to switch brands, if comparable in price and quality, to one that supports a social cause.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012 — Asia Pacific

Omidyar Network Executive Forum Unites Business Leaders Investing In Social Change

Source: Huffington Post

One network of top executives is proving that good business means wise investments -- specifically investments in people who have the power to create global change but may simply lack opportunity.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012 — Asia Pacific

5 Clever Hacks for Becoming a Social Entrepreneur

Source: Forbes

Social entrepreneurs create innovative solutions for tackling the world’s most vexing social problems. Whether they’re solving hunger, improving the environment, or fighting for political freedom, these entrepreneurs place social missions at the center of their business activities — aiming to maximize social value instead of profits, though both are important for maintaining a sustainable organization.
Monday, May 7, 2012 — No Region Specified

Accion International launches $10 million investment vehicle, Venture Lab

Source: Economic Times

BANGALORE: In a further boost for social venture investing in India, microfinance and investment firm Accion International has launched its $10 million investment vehicle, Venture Lab, which is focused on providing seed capital to organisations that promote financial inclusion.
Friday, May 4, 2012 — No Region Specified

Clinton, Yunus inspire Hult Global Case Challenge competitors

Source: Asian Journal

NEW YORK—“This is such an exhilarating experience. We’re very excited to meet President Clinton and Dr. Yunus. Win or lose, we are already winners,” Abhinav Chanakya, an MBA student representing the Asian Institute of Management in Manila told the Asian Journal while on the sidelines of the Hult Global Case Challenge’s final round of competition.
Friday, May 4, 2012 — No Region Specified

Tech majors HP, Google and Microsoft reach out to local start-ups to gain foothold in SME sector

Source: Economic Times

Large technology companies have a clear target group in mind when they design initiatives to promote entrepreneurship. Start-ups that engage in these programmes are typically led by founders set on building the next big technology service product. But not Vanajakshi Raveendra Lokhande, the owner of a small business that makes pickles and noodles in the north Karnataka district of Bagalkot.
Friday, May 4, 2012 — No Region Specified

The Hapinoy Program - Social Development with a Smile

Source: CNN iReport

A multi-awarded program in the Philippines leads the innovation of solutions for the Base of the Pyramid. From the words "Happy" and "Pinoy" (a slang word for Filipino), Hapinoy continues its mission to empower more women micro entrepreneurs - and they do it with a smile.
Thursday, May 3, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

This Man Can't Stop Innovating

Source: Inc.

Nothing beats the economics and ingenuity of a great dual-use product. On a scorching February day, Moses Kizza Musaazi stands behind the latrines at Mpigi UMEA Primary School, describing the features of his portable incinerator. The mud at his feet is red. So are the uniforms of the children who surge and subside in waves as he delivers his tutorial.
Thursday, May 3, 2012 — No Region Specified

What Impact Investing Could Do For Health Care

Source: Fast Company

In his TedMed talk last week, where he called for a renewed focus on improving root causes of health problems rather than waiting until they cause full blown illnesses, Sandeep Kishore noted this somewhat startling statistic: Of the 30 years of average life-expectancy gains the United States made in the last century, a surprisingly small amount of that average increase--just five years--stems from improvements in the sort of medical care we get in hospitals. The rest of those gains came from other sources, like improvements in water quality and sanitation, vaccinations, and other improvements in public health.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012 — No Region Specified

Looking to Frontier Markets for Next Big Thing in Investing

Source: New York Times

The difficulty with investing in the next big thing is that it is often not recognized as that until after it has become a current or former big thing. Before its arrival, it tends to be seen only as a crazy, risky thing or nothing at all. Emerging-market portfolio managers specialize in finding the next big thing. But after the transformation of many economies in Asia and Latin America in the past two decades and the strong returns and mainstream popularity of their markets, what’s left to be found?
Tuesday, May 1, 2012 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Scaling Social Enterprises

Source: The Huffington Post

At the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, we focus on helping social entrepreneurs build ventures that scale. My colleague and mentor Jim Koch, founder of the Center and one of the founders of both our signature Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) and The Tech Awards, returned from the Unite for Sight's Global Health and Innovation Conference effusive about his airplane reading. Jim's praise was for the Monitor Group's recently released report, From Blueprint to Scale: The Case for Philanthropy in Impact Investing.
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Tuesday, May 1, 2012 — South Asia

Singapore's Social Enterprise Stock Exchange to Launch Soon

Source: Forbes

For impact investors and social enterprises looking for ways to link up, the ultimate dream is to have a stock exchange aimed solely at mission-driven companies. That’s a difficult feat to pull off, to put it mildly. You need a critical mass of investors and stock-exchange ready companies, not to mention the wherewithal to meet all manner of red tape and regulatory hurdles, as well as establish the technology capable of supporting the venture.But such an exchange is well underway in Singapore.
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