Nathan Wyeth

Weekly Roundup: Spotlight on Latin America

I’m still waiting to hear from participants in the Social Venture Capital/Social Enterprise Conference in Miami this weekend and especially the Sustainable Haiti side-event that was planned there after the earthquake in Port-Au-Prince. But in case you missed it, this past week NextBillion was all Latin America all the time.

Despite having the sister site, NextBillion en Espanol, our coverage tends to center on South Asia and Africa and it is great to delve into some of the factors distinguishing Latin America from other regions. Daniel Gonzalez of AVINA, Ben Powell of Agora Partnerships, Jimena Betancourt of NESsT Consulting, Paula Cardeneau of Ashoka, and Francisco Mejia and Luiz Ros of the IDB’s Opportunities for the Majority program described what their work entails and the specific opportunities and challenges that Latin America presents.

Personally, I was thrilled to find out that Guayaki, a yerba mate brand that I see on the shelves at groceries in San Francisco, is a venture supported by AVINA – blogging about development through enterprise is great but participating in it without even knowing it is even better.

More profoundly, Francisco, Luiz, Paula all touched on the role of community infrastructure and social capital in development in Latin America. IDB is thinking in terms of network platforms to extend its efforts from urban to rural areas, while Paula noted:

An asset we have as a region is Latin America’s strong tradition of community self-organization to address social issues, as well as our strong social capital at grass roots levels.”


Further on the topic of regional coverage by, China is a relative black box on this blog and the base of the pyramid space generally. Given that there’s conservatively 250 million people in China living close to $1 a day, and a much larger number within the broader “base of the pyramid,” I wanted to take the opportunity this week to highlight one of the markets where the base of the pyramid interacts most directly with wealthy segments worldwide – news coverage of the rising minimum wage in manufacturing center Guangdong. The fact that Chinese migrant laborers are going home from Guangdong to take jobs associated with economic stimulus infrastructure spending in China will likely have spillover effects into textiles and other manufacturing in Southeast Asia, Africa, and probably beyond.

A story that got less coverage than I would have expected is a partnership between SC Johnson and the Gates Foundation to identify a “consumer-level, market-based” solution to malaria. Perhaps the coverage will come at the point they have identified one.

And finally, the news that Elevar announced a $70M fund for investment in the microfinance sector prompted the Seattle Times to re-examine assumptions: “An equity fund focused on poverty? Sounds odd, I know.” The article gets better.