Editor’s Note: This is the last post in Sean Smith’s series from the Nairobi office. Catch up on anything you missed by clicking the links below. 

The Kenyan Context 

These groups of Rich People and Nerds are slowly beginning to identify each other.  They are slowly feeling each other out and gaining a better understanding read more
Editor’s Note: This post is the second installment in Sean Smith’s series on Rich People, Nerds, and the Kenyan Context. Click here if you missed Part 1.

The Rich People

The most important kind of Rich Person a startup hub can have is successful technology entrepreneurs that are looking to support new startups.  Often, this is subject to a chicken and egg dilemma. Without support, introductions, and investment from successful industry veterans it is a … read more

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a series from Sean Smith, who recently moved to Nairobi, Kenya to open Invested Development’s East African office. 

Having recently moved to Kenya to establish ID’s first international office, I am often asked by friends, family, and colleagues a simple question, “Why Nairobi?” My answer is often just as simple, “Because Nairobi is positioning itself to become the Silicon Valley of Africa.”  What isn’t so simple … read more
This is the fourth post in our series, “Leveraging Mobile Penetration at the BoP for Poverty-Fighting Mobile Transaction Systems.” Click the links below to catch up on anything you might have missed.

Social Capital – Networking and Participation

As we introduced in the first post, the key to a successful mobile technology applications to read more

Adding 55M

Ethiopia is infamously lagging behind the African standard of mobile penetration rates. Currently, mobile penetration in Africa is around 50% and climbing, but Ethiopia’s mobile penetration is around 12%. The Government of Ethiopia, who controls the telecommunications industry in the country, has set some ambitious goals for the next five years to increase mobile penetration rates. While there are many benefits that come along with a mobile phone in the hands of the … read more

This is the third installment in our series on mobile transaction systems and their contribution to the fight against poverty. First, we introduced this series with an overview of mobile penetration rates and the mobile phone’s power for impact. Then, last week, we highlighted the first transaction system– mobile money – and the benefits such transactions offer to users. This week, we will look at the different ways mobile phones facilitate exchanges of information … read more

This week, we’re stepping back and looking at the explosive developments in the ICT industry and their effects in emerging markets.  In case you missed it, check out our ongoing series on how mobile transactions systems can fight poverty, Part 1 and Part 2.
Image Courtesy of SlimTrader
Ethio Telecom launches credit transfer service” Press Release from Ethio Telecom
Ethiopia is infamous for its lagging mobile penetration rates. The Government-led telecom released ambitious … read more

Last week we introduced this series that will highlight the different ways mobile phones can combat poverty. This week, we will discuss the first example of a poverty-fighting mobile transaction system. Mobile money transfer services provide financial inclusion benefits for the unbanked, and are the most heralded impact of mobile penetration.

Mobile Money Transactions

Perhaps the most well-known mobile transaction systems that engage the base of the pyramid are mobile money transactions. The various flavors read more

The ID team spends a lot of time discussing and studying the mobile technology industry. The driving force behind our focus on mobile technology in emerging markets has been the explosive growth of mobile phone penetration rates and the potential for mobile transaction systems to reduce poverty.

Our most popular post on this blog is “Mobile Phones at the Base of the Pyramid: Accessibility and Affordability” published in June 2010. In that post, … read more

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This week we’re highlighting the importance of enterprise level development and impact investing in India. Several newsworthy excerpts describe the myriad opportunities emerging from the growth of social enterprises, impact investing, and the use of technology in the region.

Could impact investing help India’s poor” by Shilpa Kannan on BBC News, Delhi
A massive existing population in India coupled with robust economic growth expectations and a changing investor appetite for … read more

A cornerstone of Invested Development’s strategy is that mobile phones facilitate information, participation, and transactions in emerging markets.  This week’s articles demonstrate examples of how mobile phones can do so.

Mobiles: The Hub of a Global Information Society” by Melissa Ulbricht on Mobile Active
Like us, Mobile Active is a proponent of the basic feature phone’s potential for impact by distributing information. A new report, “News on the Go: How Mobile Device read more
People often ask us why we chose technology as our investment focus. The answer is quite simple: technology has the greatest potential to create impact in the developing world. The following articles for this week share our sentiment and speak to mobile technology’s power for social impact (be sure to check out next week’s Review to see how alternative energy is creating impact).
Mobile Broadband in Kenya” by Patrick Munyi on iHub read more

Banks and mobile network operators are working in an environment that is constantly evolving with the addition of new competitors, new regulations (or lack thereof), and new markets. The mobile payments world in emerging markets is experiencing explosive growth and widespread support, as evidenced in the following articles.

First universal mobile payments platform goes live” on Mobile Money Africa
Luup is now providing universal mobile payment systems through a combination of Microsoft … read more

There’s never a shortage of news surrounding mobile technology. This week we read about new applications and smartphones, mobile money launching in Liberia and Zimbabwe, and the changes in the relationships between banks and telcos because of the growing popularity in mobile payments globally.

Samsung launches Galaxy S II in Kenya” by Stewart Chabwinja via IT News Africa

There has been speculation that smartphones, which are coming down in price, will penetrate the … read more

In response to the slow but steady increases in smartphone adoption and data usage in Africa, developers are releasing mobile applications to increase interoperability in the mobile money industry. This week, we read about new mobile apps appearing in emerging markets that increase access to financial services. We also read about mobile Internet access throughout Africa that allows for the adoption of such services. Africa is leveraging mobile technology for social change.

Kenya: Tech read more

Title: Mobile Application Developer
Start/End Date: Immediately – November 2011
Schedule: Flexible/15-20 hours per week
Pay: Stipend/Transportation Expenses
Location: Boston, MA

Invested Development is looking for a skilled undergraduate/masters student or recent graduate with expertise in creating mobile applications targeting a variety of devices to join our team as a Mobile Application Developer.

The ideal application should have:

  • Strong Java/JavaCard development skills
  • Experience using SIM and USIM Application Toolkits and SyncML
  • Experience performing design
read more

Title: Algorithm Developer
Start/End Date: Immediately – November 2011. Potential for full-time position
Schedule: Flexible/15-20 hours per week
Pay: Stipend/Transportation Expenses
Location: Boston, MA

Invested Development is looking for a skilled undergraduate/masters student or recent graduate with expertise in applied graph theory and/or social network analysis to join our team as an Algorithm Developer. Applicants should have strong Java development skills and be comfortable working in a start-up environment with minimal resources and supervision. … read more

As the mobile money industry grows and evolves, we are seeing new business models emerge. More and more mobile phone users around the world are finding access to financial services through branchless banking. Here at ID, we’re working to stay on pace with the ever changing risks and opportunities.
The proof that the mobile payment industry is … read more
This week we reviewed how mobile commerce can help rural African farmers rise out of poverty.

Our portfolio company, Slimtrader, has partnered with Notore, “an agro-allied and chemical company ….supporting local food production.” Together, they’re piloting SlimTrader’s mobile commerce platform, MoBiashara. MoBiashara allows farmers read more

At ID, we often discuss the benefits of mobile phones for those at the Base-of-the-Pyramid. Access to mobile phones is proven to increase financial inclusion and accessibility to basic goods and service. This Weekly Review examines the benefits of mobile phones specifically for migrant workers.

Forty million Indonesians do not have access to formal financial services. This lack of financial inclusion stunts growth and … read more


This Weekly Review includes stories on a key industry trend: mobile penetration in Africa lending itself to financial inclusion and economic and social development. 
via Afrographique 

Mobile phones in Africa” by Ivan Colic via Afrographique 
We recently came across the blog Afrographique by Ivan Colic. Colic collects data from reliable sources like the World Bank or the IMF, and presents the information in aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-understand format. Check out
read more


This week at ID, we read about progress and developments in mobile technology around the world. 

SlimTrader Lets Africans Shop via Text” by Ciara Byrne of Venture Beat via The New York Times
Our portfolio company SlimTrader was featured in The New York Times. Byrne used SlimTrader as an example of a company working in developing countries to facilitate customer transactions via SMS text messages. Founder and CEO Femi Akinde experienced firsthand read more


This week’s Weekly Review contains articles on mobile technology in emerging markets. Articles include mobile money success stories, challenges, and ways to develop the industry by offering more services, addressing key issues, and expanding access to Internet.  
Before the articles, we’d like to acknowledge the Sankalp Forum in Mumbai, India that ended today. Working to enable the flow of capital between impact investors and social entrepreneurs, Sankalp Forum focuses on five high impact … read more
BETA offers funding BETA offers funding and support for exceptional innovators each year. As a precursor to seed-capital, BETA support is intended to push each innovator from idea to enterprise.
Exceptional mobile tech and alternative energy innovators with creative technological solutions for the underserved in emerging markets.
Innovators selected by BETA will spend six months prototyping their innovations and co-creating the new enterprises with Invested Development (ID). ID manages a successful seed-stage … read more


Via NextBillion

Every week at ID, we read about what we do and what we like. This week we read a lot about mobile technology.

In the Philippines, Global Telecom runs the GCASH mobile money service and is starting a program to support the government’s poverty alleviation programs. The platform, GCASH REMIT, … read more