Rob Katz

News Roundup: Wal-Mart, SCJ, Acumen, Marketplace

Extra!I’ve been busy lately, partly because I’m trying track a slew of recent BOP news stories appearing in the mainstream media.? (For readers who subscribe to the main NextBillion RSS feed, you may want to consider subscribing to the News Feed for daily updates).? Four stories set themselves apart from the group for the depth and breadth of coverage:

Acumen’s New Model for Third-World Aid: BusinessWeek innovation editor Jessi Hempel profiles the New York-based investment fund and its founder, Jacqueline Novogratz.? There’s a special focus on Drishtee, an Acumen portfolio investment that’s launching entrepreneur-owned and -run kiosks in rural India. ?Chasing the ’Base of the Pyramid’: Fortune senior writer Marc Gunther focuses on SC Johnson’s entry into the Kenyan BOP market by way of Stu Hart’s BOP Learning Lab and the six-person team they sent to Kenya last summer.? He reports that the team has seeded businesses operating in Kibera, Kenya that sell pest control, cleaning, and garbage collection services.? Inevitably, there have been bumps in the road, but Gunther reports that both SCJ and Hart have taken a long-term, strategic approach.

In Mexico, Banco Wal-Mart: Another BusinessWeek article, this time about Wal-Mart’s pending banking license in Mexico.? Government approval would allow the superstore’s 850-plus Mexican stores to offer financial services, from checking accounts and credit cards to home mortgages.? Despite a less-than-stellar reputation based on reportedly exploitative labor practices, Wal-Mart stands to help low-income consumers in this case.? BW reports that the Mexican banking sector tends to price out risky, low-income customers and is ripe for competitive change that Wal-Mart brings–especially its low prices.

Microvending in Kenya: National Public Radio’s Marketplace program carried an interesting report by Kitty Felde on Monday.? It it, Felde tells of Kenyan entrepreneurs borrowing the sachet selling model of Unilever.? The story’s short and mostly anecdotal, but it’s good to see a BOP report making an evening radio show.

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