That’s a key question facing bankers these days, given the cost of establishing a mobile offering and the accelerated pace at which the mobile landscape is evolving.
The short answer is “yes”—if you go about it right.
||We often celebrate companies and individuals once they've achieved undeniable success, but shun their disruptive thinking before reaching such a pinnacle. Before Oprah was Oprah, before Jobs was Jobs, they were labeled as misguided dreamers rather than future captains of industry. You tend to hear about startups when they are successful but not when they are struggling. This creates a systematically distorted perception that companies succeed overnight. Almost always, when you learn the backstory, you find that behind every “overnight success” is a story of entrepreneurs toiling away for years, with very few people except themselves and perhaps a few friends, users, and investors supporting them.
The idea has a wonderfully simple and powerful appeal: Give a tiny loan to a poor person in a poor nation.
Watch her start a small business – whether hawking tomatoes or fattening goats – that puts her and her family on the first rung of a ladder that will elevate them out of poverty and into the middle class. Repeat across the planet.
||Western Union's (WU) business model remains sound.|
With market fears on this issue driving a low valuation on the stock, investors have a good opportunity to invest in a fundamentally attractive business.
||Is mobile banking worth chasing? |
That’s a key question facing bankers these days, given the cost of establishing a mobile offering and the accelerated pace at which the mobile landscape is evolving.
The short answer is “yes”—if you go about it right.
Microfinance has largely become a city-based endeavor, but one example suggests it would be more useful if focused on rural communities. Microfinance -- the practice of personal small loans to spur creativity in developing nations -- has well-known rural roots.
Famine is not simply caused by a lack of food in the global supply. We must -- and can -- do better.
||From changes to the curriculum to getting Transitional University status or by making the financial case for energy savings, we share the best bits from some experts' sustainability live chat
|Investment in innovation is needed to secure the UK's future, which is why we are launching the Big Innovation Centre|
It is time for the academic community to come to the aid of an old and ailing friend — the “science” of technological knowledge. In other words, rather than relying on individual fields of study to come up with new bits of “technology”), we must study technological advancement as a process itself, across disciplines. The time is right; recent advances in the management of technology have laid the necessary groundwork to do so.
|Lynne Maher can see the NHS entering a new phase in its development of IT. National programmes are becoming less of an issue, and there will be a stronger emphasis on new ideas coming from the ground up.|
Competition among financial institutions is intensifying in Africa as more governments relax barriers to entry and open their countries' banking sectors to new players. The flurry of fresh entrants in some countries is credited with helping to drive down banking charges, improve access to banking services and spark off a wave of new products and services.
The Sun is reporting that animal behavior experts have kindly handed out iPads to Gorillas. Amazingly not a SINGLE one of the five tablets which download apps has been broken since being given out at Port Lympne wild animal park three weeks ago.
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman gave a speech today about how entrepreneurs can “invent the future”. Speaking at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, he recited a list of 10 rules of entrepreneurship.
Do you have women in key positions? If you’re planning on targeting female customers, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to have great women on your team. Women are the routers and amplifiers of the social web. And they are the rocket fuel of ecommerce. The ongoing debate about women in tech has been missing a key insight. If you figure out how to harness the power of female customers, you can rock the world.
The ageing global population will be what will drive market for sophisticated domestic robots, which have hitherto been lacking, according to the founder of Microsoft's robotics division. Tandy Trower has a vision to design a socially assistive robot to help the elderly or infirm.
A day after U.S. assistant secretary of state for south and central Asian affairs Robert Blake appealed to the Bangladeshi government to reconsider its dismissal of 70-year-old microfinance guru Muhammad Yunus from the Grameen Bank, IPS spoke with the president and CEO of Women's World Banking (WWB), currently the most comprehensive network of microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the world. She dismissed the notion, which is swiftly gaining momentum in many quarters, that microcredit is ineffective as a sustainable method of poverty alleviation and must be replaced.
The wisdom in development finance has long been that lending to and saving by poor micro-entrepreneurs and farmers is doomed to failure: costs are too high, the poor are not creditworthy and they are not able to save and insure, and so on. Bold experimentation with new institutions in microfinance, supported by public action, have resulted in a number of success stories and changed this pessimistic assessment during the past fifteen years or so. In this paper, a number of arguments are put forward that call for a continuation of the support towards institutional innovation and bottom-up adaptation of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in developing countries. Published in 2001 by Manfred Zeller
Understanding modern programming languages is much easier when you know about the languages that influenced their design. David Chisnall looks at some languages that have shaped the modern computing landscape. The series begins by examining ALGOL, the language that launched the structured programming revolution.
Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer argues that the tablet computers (aka slates, media tablets or iPads) are PCs. Steve Jobs argues that they are post-PC devices. There are analogies to trucks, cars and various metaphors for what these new devices symbolize. Some argue that because the iPad needs a PC, it’s not a post-PC device.
The suggestion that we might partially turn back the clock has been described as a call for “Hovis banking”, referring to an advertisement that plays on nostalgia. The commercial succeeds because we believe the bread our grandparents ate, before innovations in technology and marketing, was nicer and more wholesome. Perhaps that is true in banking as in baking.
Financial inclusion is a generic problem that affects most developing countries, where the proportion of unbanked is very high. It is, therefore, unsurprising that inclusion models have been deployed in various forms in many countries. Some, of course, have done better than others and we shall also subsequently explore a few models abroad to learn from what they have done right. India has had a fair number of initiatives in the Financial Inclusion space, and we cover a select few of them that are involved in m-banking and cards-issuance.
Microfinance was once a darling of international economics. Small loans between $50 and $500 to low-income individuals and small businesses were believed by many to offer a ladder out of poverty. But recently, microcredit has come under heat, often for inaccurate reasons. Here are five myths we need to overcome.
Microfinance has taken a beating lately for shifting far afield from its humanitarian origins, originally funding tiny businesses run by poor women in developing countries to feed their families. It's become a good idea gone bad, a charitable enterprise spoiled as profit surpassed people as the rationale for investment. It sickens the soul. But all is not lost. A new concept in which the interest charged on a microloan isn't a percentage, but rather an improvement to a community, has seen early success in Haiti. Although small in scale, this model might be just the thing to help microfinance rebound as an effective, credible and responsible method of funding small businesses lacking capital that don't qualify for loans from traditional banks. The concept comes from Zafèn, an online microfinance initiative approaching its first anniversary on April 1.
The backlash against microcredit questions the myth that the poor can easily climb out of poverty with some credit; or that microcredit can be financially self-sustaining. Microcredit is supposed to be a lifeline for borrowers, a winner for investors, and a self-funding route out of poverty for the world. The reality is far more complex. Thus, microcredit requires a delicate and ongoing balancing act between undesirable extremes. It's no wonder then that accusations fly when balance is lost.
Last week's report from the Environmental Audit Committee : "Embedding Sustainable Development across Government" confirms that sustainable development has not been fully embedded across Government because the political will to do so has not been maintained. However, it does not go far enough in calling for urgent institutional reform to make this the "greenest government ever", say WWF-UK and FDSD.
Services called Microfinance plus services can be regarded as interesting in the framework of integrated development. Since these services include social and sanitary dimensions, indeed we can reasonably consider Microfinance to have a great potential as a powerful social and sanitary tool. Nonfinancial services can be powerful development tools in many environments and communities, provided they are designed with the populations and with care to respond to the real needs of the populations served; they can even be of greater importance to rural women via whom, their families and their whole communities can benefit from them and be empowered.
Food prices hit a record high last month, outstripping levels that prompted riots in 2008, and key grains could climb even further as weather patterns give cause for concern, the UN's food agency said on Wednesday. Record high food prices are moving to the top of policymaker agendas, driven by fears it could stoke inflation, protectionism and unrest and dent consumer demand in key emerging economies.
While it's sometimes hard to quantify success, one thing is certain – the ripple effect and long-term effects of good development work impact more people for generations to come than any of us will know.
Many GCC businesses are struggling during these tough economic times and are even missing an opportunity to grow, because they are not focusing sufficiently on Innovation Management says an expert in the UAE.
Former US vice-president Al Gore took part in the 2011 Global Urban Development Forum in Beijing. Gore said Thursday China and the United States -- the world's biggest polluters -- should work on designing greener cities as part of their efforts to tackle climate change.
The West is overly discounting Asia's growth potential. Innovation has never been more accessible. We're on the verge of a golden age of innovation. The human side of innovation must be addressed. More focus must go to solving the first mile problem... Written by Scott Anthony from Singapore
Top emerging economies are forging research collaborations to help the less well-off. The idea that poorer countries should catch up economically with wealthier ones before spending heavily on R&D was challenged by a report released last week. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report contradicts theories widely held by development professionals and international organizations such as the World Bank.
One of the most popular programs for helping the world's poor has gone sour in India. Microcredit, the practice of making small loans to very poor people, grew into a multibillion-dollar business. But microfinance companies have been accused of predatory lending and collection practices so harsh that they drove some borrowers to suicide. One state government in India has enacted legislation that will, in effect, put the microlenders out of business.
Our biggest ally will be lost if we do not protect and enhance biodiversity in forests and other systems. Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the media and many organisations have pursued as separate narratives the issues of climate, biodiversity and sustainable development. One of the changes this year, at a UN level, has been recognition that this does not make sense.
IBM unveils its fifth annual "Next Five in Five" -- a list of innovations with the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years. The Next Five in Five is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as emerging technologies from IBM's Labs around the world that can make these innovations possible.
Microfinance has lost its soul. Six fundamental shifts in the practice of microfinance have left it operating more like a for-profit bank and less like an innovative pro-poor movement.
Debate over the value of microfinance in the developing world appears to be long overdue. Arguments against microfinance center around the claim that it is a development strategy increasingly forced on the poor, and that those who are claimed to benefit from it the most--poor women--are actually its chief victims. Critics have long sought a platform to reveal the weaknesses and explode the myths supporting microfinance.
64.6% of black Americans and 32.7% whites will face poverty, study says
Cascadia Capital, an investment bank serving both public and private growth companies around the world, has published its predictions for sustainable industries in 2011. One of the four predictions is that waste-to-energy technologies will grow and become part of mainstream society.
A meta-evaluation on microfinance released by the Evaluation Cooperation Group of international financial institutions reports that microfinance operations have had difficulty in reaching the very poor.
The recent controversy surrounding the microfinance sector has entirely eclipsed the fact that it is the first effort in India to have delivered financial services to remote corners of the country in a self-sustaining manner. The stakes are high for India’s poor, and we have to pave the way for orderly growth in the sector. Here is our view on some key issues that have featured in the current debate.
The European Union (EU) wants stronger privacy rules to give Internet users more control over how social-networking sites such as Facebook, or search engines such as Google use their personal information.
rise of entrepreneurial innovations that use mainstream financial instruments to facilitate social development.
Corporate social investment (CSI) experts predict that a growing merger between social entrepreneurship and CSI will be one of the world's top trends in the future.
Microfinance programs geared toward African women can actually help heal victims of rape the same way that psychological counseling does – by restoring self-respect.
A significant number of people using new technologies such as mobile phones to access financial services in developing countries are completely new clients for the financial services industry, according to new research by CGAP. The growing interest of so-called branchless banking in recent years has, until now, largely lacked data showing whether it delivers on potential to bring the poor into the formal economy.
In their book "Sustainable Excellence", Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell make a compelling case for why a focus on sustainability -- whether it concerns, for example, climate change, energy consumption or labor relations -- is now a form of enlightened self-interest for businesses. For starters, commodity prices have been soaring as investors wake up to a world marked by rapid population growth and overstretched resources.
Microfinance has had a quick slide down the popularity charts— from being celebrated as a magic wand against poverty to being condemned as a business riddled with loan sharks.
Why the time is right for sustainable thinking by pension funds and institutional investors:
When Roger Urwin, global head of investment content at Towers Watson, the investment consultant, turns his mind to a subject, the pensions world listens. Urwin, one of the most influential investment advisors around, has worked with many of the world’s largest retirement schemes. His recent attention to the theme of sustainable investing is notable because of his experience in the reality of pension fund practice and governance.
Confirmation that Cambodia’s largest micro-lending organisation Prasac will start to accept deposits represents the latest sign the Kingdom’s microfinance sector is booming.
But MFIs need to be weary of straying too far from their original mandate – notably, to financially assist the country’s rural poor.
On August 30, 2010, Brian Cox, the president of MFX Solutions LLC, a company which offers currency hedging instruments, highlighted several emerging challenges that microfinance institutions (MFIs) face as they expand such as currency risks, tighter regulation, and tougher capital adequacy requirements.
Microfinance doesn’t help the very poor.
While the argument that all the attention the microlending industry attracts sometimes diverts funds from reaching programs that need it more is not new, we were surprised to see it outlined by Vikram Akula, the founder of SKS Microfinance Ltd.
Residents in sub-Saharan African countries report a wide range of awareness about the availability of microfinance lending in their communities, suggesting these institutions remain locally inaccessible to many who would benefit most from using them. Malawians (65%) and Ugandans (63%) are the most likely to say they are aware of these institutions in their communities, while respondents from Ivory Coast (18%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (16%), and Zimbabwe (15%) are the least likely to say the same.
This AfricaFocus contains a diverse selection of recent books likely to be of interest and new to AfricaFocus readers. You will find, for example, new books by Africa's distinguished elders, such as Achebe, wa Thiong'o, and Mandela. Selected new books from publishers such as Africa World Press, HSRC Press, and Aflame Books. Books on topical themes such as SMS activism and other ICT developments, on India and China's relations with Africa, and on xenophobia and migration. And more.
He would have been a hardcore banker had he not branched out to microfinance. And that was because “it is a business with a social mission offering double bottom line satisfaction to all stakeholders”. Udaia Kumar, MD Share Microfin Limited Interviewed by Pranab Ghosh, Hindustan Times.
Matthias Omeh, president, National Association of Microfinance Banks (NAMB), on Monday advised microfinance banks to partner with credit bureaux to ascertain the status of their customers.
The second day of ‘Microfinance Cracking the Capital Market’ Conference began with an insightful perspective on future Institutional Investments in the Indian microfinance space. Victoria White, Vice-President and Director, India, ACCION and Alok Prasad, Country Manager-Microfinance, Citi India welcomed the audience with a brief remark on the need and future prospect of institutional investments which the industry requires.
Microfinance is going mainstream as international investors look to boost the value and the reach of small microlending institutions. As a result, the industry is likely to attract mainstream scrutiny from the press.
With hundreds of fledgling entrepreneurs ready to change the world and maybe make millions while they do it, the buzz around the microfinance industry looks a bit like the dot-com boom at the end of the ’90s.
As world leaders gather for the G8 summit in Canada, Machrine Birungi visits Francis Kamara at his farm in Uganda to see if the promises made at Gleneagles in 2005 have benefitted him and his country.
Private equity investments have put a premium on the valuation of microfinance companies when maybe they should be giving them a discount. By Eric Bellman
As Dr. Evil learned in the Austin Powers movies, $1 billion isn't quite what it used to be. The upcoming G8 and G-20 summits in Toronto are expected to top $1 billion in costs. At such a large price tag, it's reasonable to ask if the meetings are worth it. But former top White House aides say that even with the hefty price, the meetings more than pay for themselves in both tangible and intangible ways.
Motivations and initiatives should not be judged on how much or how little they can do. These remain the single most visible sign of a society that is alive.
Microfinance — making tiny loans to poor people or groups of poor people — has soared in India in the past few years. Before long, it could reach more people in India than the regular banking system.
Grassroots people identify easily with developmental banking, which is the reason they set money aside daily (Esusu) that would be used to grow their business as well as finance their families. So, it becomes a plus for them to have a private institution that provides funding for their business as well as refinance it in case there is misfortune that could prevent them from repaying their loans.
Ghana is on test as it prepares for oil production. But oil endowment itself is not a doom. How it is managed could make it a boom or a doom.
While it requires a lot of sacrifice and patience to make the boom work for the economy, the country cannot equally ignore the higher price to pay if the oil resources are not managed well.
Business confidence fell unexpectedly in the second quarter of this year, led by a plunge in retail trade and the vehicle industry and suggesting that economic growth has slowed, a leading survey showed yesterday.
Lack of sufficient capital to support Small Medium Enterprise (SMEs) is said be responsible for the failure of microfinance banks in the country, just as the management of TechnoGlass Industries Limited(TGI) lamented the huge monthly electricity bill paid to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) without getting the desired services from PHCN.
Despite the challenges that the board and management of Integrated Microfinance Bank, IMFB, have been faced with, it is determined to come out stronger and bigger. In this interview, IMFB's Managing Director, Mr. Adamu Ibrahim, takes us through the events of the past 9 months, steps being taken to regain public confidence and the recent injection of funds by an investor.
Ten years ago, it was not fashionable for social enterprises to take loans. Even if they wanted to, nobody would lend them money... Many small social investment firms have emerged recently.
Even as financial inclusion emerges as one of the top goals of government and Reserve Bank of India, Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), which are the pioneers of financial inclusion, are finding themselves in a bit of soup, strangely enough for fats growth and for big profits. So are MFIs doing too much too fast?
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for future generations. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Microfinance is a term for the practice of providing financial services, such as microcredit, microsavings or microinsurance to poor people. By helping them to accumulate usably large sums of money, this expands their choices and reduces the risks they face. Suggested by the name, most transactions involve small amounts of money, frequently less than US$100.
Kiva President Premal Shah on the company's mission to fight poverty by lending to entrepreneurs. Video at Forbes.com
The ubiquity of the credit card and the impact of the recession mean the move to use a mobile phone to make payments and conduct banking is likely to be a slow and tortuous affair in Europe.
Will regulating the microfinance market in Egypt help breach a gap between supply and demand? Sherine Nasr seeks answers
Microfinance, perhaps best known as a means of helping small business owners in developing countries move out of poverty, is one source already in place in the United States. These organizations make small loans and other financial services available to low- and moderate-income businesses.
MicroRate is the first rating agency dedicated to measuring the performance of microfinance institutions ("MFIs"). MicroRate's rating teams visit MFIs and "kick their tires". Statement of Damian von Stauffenberg Chairman and Founder MicroRate. Committee on House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade.
Is Mobile Banking Safe: Redefining Mobile Security through App Verification
Author: Eric Everson, Founder MyMobiSafe.com
Time to market has been a well-worn mantra of the electronics industry. Unfortunately it’s been elevated to the level of panacea – and it’s not. Don’t get me wrong. Getting to market early is a good thing. It’s just not the stepping stone to success that it used to be. Today it’s just part of a much more complex equation. Electronics companies and designers need to solve the whole equation in order to survive and remain competitive as a new generation of electronics products begs for creation.
The aim of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation is to promote creative and innovative approaches in different sectors of human activity and contribute to better equip the European Union for the challenges ahead in a globalised world. During this Year, a series of seven Brussels debates are jointly organised by the European Commission and the EPC in Brussels.
Jacqueline Novogratz interviewed by David Serchuk (Forbes). Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and chief executive officer of Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to combat global poverty.
Be sure to read Founder, Dana Dakin’s Story of how she traveled to Ghana in 2003 on the occasion of her sixtieth birthday to find a village and start a microlending program.
The urgency with which the Obama administration, members of Congress, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have been working to keep credit available reminds us how critical credit is to the economy. These folks know that without widely available credit, our economy would descend into a debilitating depression.
Africa's economy of cash handovers and stowed-away savings has long been a hindrance to the continent's economic growth, as well as a cause and excuse to deny credit to its poor.
But now, at a time when 10 million Ghanaians own a phone, the world's banks, cell phone networks and aid agencies are coming here to flip one thing into the other — to tweak a few features on a sim card, circumvent some regulations, and voila: The ordinary pre-paid cell phone becomes something not unlike a checking account - a way to text money from person to person throughout this intricate economy.
India should work towards empowering women economically -- through microfinance programs -- and also encourage greater participation of women leaders in panchayats, or village councils, writes author Shoba Narayan in this opinion piece.
Innovation is helping to bring safe financial services to the doorsteps of Africa's poor.
Religion can play a part in delivering us from the illusion that money is the measure of all things.
The former prime minister is attracting wealthy donors to back his health and harmony projects. "The Blairs are using all their resources to tackle things they care about," said Sue Wixley of New Philanthropy Capital, a think tank that connects charities to donors. "In this case, the Blairs' resources are their contacts."
The challenge of meeting future water needs under the impacts of climate change and rapidly growing human demands for water may be less bleak than widely portrayed, according to the study published in the May issue of the journal Water Resources Research. The current approach to water management considers only "blue water," that is river discharge and groundwater, said the study conducted by a team of Swedish and German scientists from Stockholm University, Stockholm Environment Institute and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Microfinance has proven itself so far to be very resilient to what is happening globally, and its clients are not necessarily experiencing anything that is correlated to the events in the US, Bob Annibale, Global Head of Microfinance at Citigroup said on Tuesday.
A fresher, integrated approach to workplace learning can have a positive role in India's ability to turn its unique demographics into a dividend writes Angie Taras
For centuries, Britain has been a leader in finance and banking. Today we are setting out how we can remain world leaders. Not at the expense of others, but in partnership with them. And not by returning to business as usual, but by reforming, renewing and championing our financial sector so that it is ready and able to seize future opportunities.
The World Bank estimates that half of the world lives on $2.50 a day or less. As global leaders scramble to stabilize the financial systems of the world's largest economies, they have an unparalleled opportunity to include the world's poorest households. Meaningful and inclusive reform expands financial access to those who need it most.
At the end of December last year, Nigeria had 815 licensed MFBs, putting itself in the first position globally on the number of practicing MFBs. However, the Managing Director, Elim MFB, Mrs. Ifeoma Ana, said that in spite the number of licensed MFBs operating in the country, micro financing would remain a mirage to the people except positive steps were taken to ensure that the sub-sector was effective in alleviating poverty.
Sound policies and regulations for microinsurance in Nigeria will encourage innovation, investment, sustainability and growth in the insurance sector, while protecting consumers and the soundness of institutions. The overall objective, according to the author, is to provide value-for-money products on a massive scale to the low-income population.
Parminder Bahra, Times' correspondent finds doubts raised about the effectiveness of one of the big ideas in the fight against poverty.
Welcome to this blog about Microfinance, Innovations and Sustainable Development