Poverty-Fighting Mobile Transaction Systems (Part 4): Social Capital

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
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Can Lagging Ethiopia Reach African Mobile Penetration Standards?

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
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Poverty-Fighting Mobile Transaction Systems (Part 3): Information Exchange

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

Poverty-Fighting Mobile Transaction Systems (Part 2): Mobile Money Transactions

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
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Poverty-Fighting Mobile Transaction Systems (Part 1): Leveraging Mobile Ubiquity at the BoP

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

EGG-Energy Development Innoventures Salon

A few months ago, we highlighted EGG-energy’s innovative pricing and distribution strategy for the Base of the Pyramid. If you like EGG-energy‘s business model or discussing BoP strategies in general, then we recommend attending EGG-energy’s upcoming brainstorm session in Cambridge, MA, hosted by the Development Innoventures Salon. The session will open the conversation around three main topics:

  1. Pricing Strategy
  2. Marketing and Sales Strategy
  3. Growth and Distribution Strategy
It’s important for EGG-energy to grow
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WANTED: The World’s Most Unreasonable Entrepreneurs

Convinced you have the entrepreneurial mettle to improve the lives of millions of people around the world? Accelerate your venture with mentorship from 50 seasoned entrepreneurs and practitioners, ranging from a Time Magazine Hero of the Planet, to the CTO of HP, to an entrepreneur who’s lifted over 19 million farmers out of poverty. In the process, form relationships with 20 impact funds including Invested Development and our friends Acumen Fund, Good Capital, read more

Good News in the Portfolio

As we wrote about in a recent post, Cents and Responsibility, investors have a responsibility to entrepreneurs. The Weekly Review prior to that post highlighted the close relationship an entrepreneur must have with the investor to enable productivity and progress. We live by our own words. We have a close relationship with each of our portfolio companies and stand by them on both the highest of highs and lowest of lows.  Although we don’t
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Cents and Responsibility


Every week we speak to entrepreneurs who are eagerly seeking financing for their start-ups. Despite the start-up moniker, many have been struggling for months and even years. They have probably passed up jobs, ended significant relationships, faced the ridicule of family and friends, and lost sleep over bills and bank accounts. They are, in a word, desperate.

It’s important for investors to recognize this. Look past the calm exterior, the confident pitch face, the … read more


SOCAP11 was the inspiration for last week’s Weekly Review and the conference is finally here. The Invested Development team has had good experiences at SOCAP in the past, including our first introduction to social entrepreneur Femi Akinde and his company, SlimTrader, now an ID portfolio company. This year we’re hoping to meet new entrepreneurs and learn about their exciting new technological solutions to poverty. We’ll also be contributing to the conversation; you’ll find Invested
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“The (Not So) Dangerous Promise of Impact Investing” on NextBillion

“The (Not So) Dangerous Promise of Impact Investing” by Miguel Granier and the Invested Development team on Next Billion
Nilima Achwal recently detailed a conversation with Felix Oldenburg of Ashoka Europe in an article titled “The Dangerous Promise of Impact Investing” on Next Billion. The post was billed as a “radical critique of the current hype surrounding impact investing” in which Oldenburg not only attacks the hype, but the industry as a whole. As
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Innovation for BoP: EGG-energy’s Pricing and Distribution Model

In a recent post, we discussed an innovative pricing model for the Base of the Pyramid with the example of Simpa Networks. This post introduces another innovative pricing model that demonstrates affordability a little differently, along with an innovative distribution model. EGG-energy, Simpa Networks, and the other companies in our portfolio understand that the customers they serve need basic affordability and accessibility.

EGG-energy has a growing number of charging stations and distribution

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BoP Pricing Models

Social entrepreneurs face many challenges: finding the right impact investor, working with government regulations in emerging markets (or lack thereof), meeting the needs of citizens at the Base of the Pyramid, designing products and services that are profitable and scalable. Most importantly, social entrepreneurs must make their products and services affordable. The world’s poorest citizens have no savings and little access to formal credit, but that is not to say that they do not have … read more

Put your innovative idea into action with BETA


We’re looking for innovative, social-minded, and forward-thinking innovators with exceptional ideas that will change the lives of the world’s poorest citizens in emerging markets. It may seem like a difficult task, but we’re confident that innovative technology is the solution.

Our latest initiative is the Boston Emerging Technology Accelerator (BETA). Together with the BSP Fund and the Blue Sky Foundation, we have created BETA to support and commercialize technology focused on alternative energy and … read more

“Impact” Investor and “Social” Ventures

by: Miguel Granier

There has been a lot of talk recently about what makes a “social” entrepreneur or an “impact” investor. It’s an appropriate conversation at this stage of the game. Neither term is well defined. Unfortunately, ID has neither the resources nor the clout to move the needle on the bigger debate, but we can (and do) define both for ourselves.  More importantly, we put our money where our mouth is. 

We invest in … read more

The Professionalization of Impact Investing

A long-time impact Angel Investor recently told us that he thought firms like ID and First Light Ventures are helping professionalize the field of seed-stage impact investing. His comment was based on the more systematic diligence and portfolio management that comes with paid investment management. In his experience, the only people funding high impact start-ups where individuals that lack the time, focus, and (let’s face it) personal motivation to make sure each investment has real … read more

The Power at the Base of the Pyramid


by Christina Tamer

We recently talked about the softer side of impact investing in our Weekly Review. This post is inspired by Booz&Co’s report “Understanding the Forgotten Billions: Meeting the World’s Least Advantaged Consumers Where They Live,” by Sudipta Bhattacharya, Ganesh Panneer, Vikas Sehgal, and Edward Tse (2010). The report discusses the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) – a segment with underestimated buying power and the dire need for social
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ID Welcomes SlimTrader


Invested Development is excited about the latest addition to our portfolio:  SlimTrader.
by: Miguel Granier

For many Africans, having to walk for hours then stand on a crowded street corner and hope that they can push their way onto a bus is all too common. Worse still is when that bus is held up by gunmen for the cash the driver holds from ticket sales. Luckily, many Africans already have the technology they need
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How App Developers Can Change the World

>by Sean Smith

There is no longer any doubt that mobile phones are a groundbreaking tool in the fight against poverty. Today, mobile phones are enabling credit and financial transactions for the unbanked, increasing the efficacy of HIV medicines, providing access to markets and enabling long-distance communications from previously unconnected rural areas.

Yet most of these solutions are currently focused on utilizing traditional cell phone technology to bring about social change: namely SMS and … read more

The Unreasonable Institute Empowers the Public to Choose the Next Wave of High‐Impact Social Entrepreneurs


The Unreasonable Institute Empowers the Public to Choose the Next Wave of High‐Impact Social Entrepreneurs

Global donations will determine which entrepreneurs gain admission to esteemed mentorship program
BOULDER, Colo. –– Starting Jan. 20, 45 social entrepreneurs will showcase their ventures in an online platform called the Unreasonable Finalist Marketplace (http://marketplace.unreasonableinstitute.org/). For 50 days, people from around the world are invited to vote with their wallets on the most viable ventures. The first … read more

Welcome Back

>Twenty eleven might have started nearly a month ago, but the real work for ID has just begun. We started our 3rd calendar year in a BIG way; launching the BSP Fund with our partner Blue Sky Projects and kicking off two multi-month research projects with MIT’s SEID program and a group of student interns from Northeastern. We are also welcoming three new key players to the ID team: Christina Tamer as Marketing Intern, Serrano … read more

Bees Do It for the Honey


At a recent social entrepreneurship forum we were amazed by the ideas and technologies being presented; mobile phone based eye diagnostics, safe and affordable infant incubators, and even affordable sanitary pads. Inspiring stuff.

What was less inspiring were the business models. Despite a clear realization of the high-impact each product could have, the massive market potential, and the obvious lack of large distribution networks, each technology was coupled with a non-profit designation and an
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Leveraging Mobile Ubiquity to Improve Life at the Base of the Pyramid


This post is the second of a series on mobile phones and the Base of the Pyramid. You can find the first of the series here.
In our previous post we explored the explosion of mobile phone access and the innovative businesses that enabled it. In the next two posts, we will look at companies and trends that are leveraging mobile access to provide valuable services to the poor in emerging markets.
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Truly Patient Capital – How We Can Create Systemic Change – Part 2

In our last post we introduced our Pareto Holdings concept. Pareto is a socially oriented holding company that swaps Preferred Stock shares in nescient (but profitable) impact ventures for its own Common Shares. The thought is that a large holding company’s Common Shares will be increasingly more liquid than a single investors Preferred Shares in an early stage company.

If you missed that post, here’s the link. We ended the last post before fully … read more

Truly Patient Capital – How We Can Create Systemic Change – Part 1

Over the last few posts we have been sharing our thoughts on the industry in general.  We started ID last year because there was a need in the market for seed investment capital for impact-oriented startups. We thought the solution was simple. Let’s do what they did in Silicon Valley! Then came reality.

Silicon Valley has throngs of experienced industry executives with deep pockets fresh off their latest IPO. They not only throw money at … read more