Nathan Wyeth

Weekly Roundup: Trickle-Up Innovation, and More

Much of the action covered by this blog take place in places that are far from the spotlight, both globally and in their own nations – in rural communities, the invisible poor in megacities, and more. I wanted to highlight a few places where this work at the ground level is directly interacting with global politics and international relations:

This week the Acumen Fund blog covered their work building a community of local patient capital investors in Pakistan. And I have heard murmurs from friends in D.C. about ideas for incorporating social innovation into the broader U.S.-Pakistan relationship. This would be a welcome addition to Predator drones.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, microfinance funded by Britain is enabling individuals to leave their current employment – the Taliban.

And finally, Dubai is getting bailed out and depending on what you read, European and American expats are either ditching their cars at the airport as they leave, or getting their kids on the waitlist for the right elementary school next year. Its migrant laborers are mostly staying put.

As we get close the end of the year, year-in-review articles are starting to proliferate. We just posted a Business Week article on innovation in 2009, which highlighted “trickle up” innovation – product design starting at the base of the pyramid and then being adapted to more wealthy market segments.

The phrase “trickle up” would seem to be preferable to “reverse innovation,” which showed up in another news item on Next Billion recently and provoked the ire of Gunjan Bagla on his blog. However in terms of accurately describing geographic reality as well as illuminating how multinationals can conceive of the challenge of catering to consumers with broadly different income levels, I have to go with polycentric innovation.

And that is the year in innovation semantics.

Some events and opportunities this week:

The lineup for the Social Venture Capital/Social Enterprise Conference focused on Latin America, March 17-19 in Miami, Florida is now online. This is your chance to see NextBillion’s own Francisco Noguera in person, along with many others.

If you’re in New York next month, on January 27 Endeavor will be hosting an informal event at their office highlighting some of its high-impact entrepreneurs from around the world. RSVP’s are required. I know Endeavor to be a great organization for helping people with business skills put them to use in this sector through its placements with its entrepreneurs’ companies, so if you’re looking to break into this kind of work this might be a great opportunity.

And in case you missed them, on our Take Action and Jobs pages, we’ve added links to LeapFrog Investments’ Global Fellowship and to the Deshpande Foundation’s Sandbox Fellowship. You have until January 4 for the latter and January 15 for the former.