(almost)Every week at Invested Development we scan the web for articles that relate to what we do and what we like. This week (ok, two weeks) we read a lot about… well, we read a lot.
Investing in Africa: An Interview with Todd Moss from the Center for Global Development
It is clearly a tricky path to navigate, but the opportunities are growing. Mr. Moss highlights the two sectors that make up our investment focus, Energy and Mobile. It is clear that from both development and investment standpoints, that is where money needs to go.
Few people understand mobile money and financial services for emerging markets like Ignacio Mas. This article might not be his most in-depth explanation of the sector, but he presents a good overview of the need and opportunities.
To consider yourself a domain expert, it takes much more than being knowledgeable about current events in your respective industry. As Michael Lewis is quoted in this blog post: “if you’re reading about something in the papers it’s already too late.”
Developing a thick skin is necessary for entrepreneurs, according to Chris Dixon. Even as a respected angel investor and tech entrepreneur, he admits being rejected on a daily basis but this allows him to be ambitious and bold without fearing criticism or failure.
Mobile technology is being utilized across the aid industry. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has dedicated $12 million to help village farmers in Tanzania, Cameroon and Rwanda save money through electronic mobile phone deposits. It has also launched a $10 million contest in Haiti to fund the best mobile banking ideas to channel earthquake relief to people who would otherwise stand in long lines at overwhelmed bank branches to collect cash.
Even the best products take time to get adopted. You can square that time for emerging markets where making a bad purchase can make the difference between eating and not. Seth Godin get to the real reason we need capital be patient, entrepreneurs to be committed.
Paul Polak is one of the favors of our field and a master of designing products/services for the poor in emerging markets. His advice should be taken seriously, but we would also caution against having too many “pilots” and not enough customers. Scaling is often a cash drain and investors like market penetration more than one-off pilots.