Startup challenges in emerging markets

This week, we read several articles discussing the challenges that early stage startups and investors face in emerging markets.

Distribution equals development:  Announcing the D-Prize” by Andrew Youn, Founder and Director of One Acre Fund on Skoll World Forum
Distribution is one of the biggest challenges that companies working in emerging markets face. Even the most innovative and affordable technologies may struggle to find their way into the hands of the customers who need them most. Andrew Youn, the founder of One Acre Fund, has developed the D-Prize, which will award $10,000 to $20,000 prizes to five social entrepreneurs tackling the distribution for development challenge. Check out the article to read about the genesis of the D-Prize and how to apply.

Early Risks, Big Returns” by Paul Breloff on Stanford Social Innovation Review
One of the biggest challenges for impact investors is the perceived lack of high quality deal flow. Finding companies that are “investment-ready” and also meet strict sector and impact criteria makes the challenge greater. In response to this, Accion Venture Lab has implemented a new strategy to improve and increase the quality of its deal flow. Accion Venture Lab is committed to “investing earlier, tolerating more uncertainty, and concentrating on big picture priorities over returns.” Read Paul’s article to find out why Accion Venture Lab is taking this approach and how it’s going so far.

EcoZoom on Building a Market for Clean Cookstoves” by Emily Youatt on Next Billion
Social enterprises will often develop innovative products for underserved markets that can save money in the long run. However, it’s usually quite difficult for customers to afford the upfront cost, no matter how valuable the product will be in the long run.  EcoZoom has developed clean cookstoves that can dramatically reduce the use of open fires or biomass.. To distribute, EcoZoom builds a passionate sales team to sell the benefits that matter to the customer.  Read the article linked above to find out how EcoZoom is trying to overcome this challenge and market the benefits of its product to customers.

GSMA MDI Case Study – Tiendatek
GSMA’s Mobile for Development Intelligence featured our portfolio company Frogtek in a recent case study. Frogtek’s Tiendatek is software designed to help small shopkeepers in emerging markets control and improve their business. Frogtek is currently operating in Latin America. Check out the case study to learn about the challenges Frogtek has faced, and how they overcame them.

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