Rich People, Nerds, and the Kenyan Context: Thoughts from the Nairobi Office Part 4

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
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Rich People, Nerds, and the Kenyan Context: Thoughts from the Nairobi Office Part 2

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
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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

Weekly Review October 30 – November 5

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
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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

Weekly Review October 17-21

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
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Weekly Review October 10-14

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
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Weekly Review September 26-30

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
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Weekly Review September 5-9

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

Mobile Application Developer

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
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Algorithm Developer

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

Weekly Review July 25-29

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
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Weekly Review June 20-24


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
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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

Introducing BETA

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
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Weekly Review February 21 – 25

>Every week at ID we scan the web for articles that relate to what we do and what we like. This week we read a lot about the use of and mobile technology for the development of emerging markets.

Image via

New Resource: CGAP Launches Branchless Banking Database” Next Billion’s Interview with Mark Pickens, CGAP
Mark Pickens is a Microfinance Specialist at The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). The
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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

Weekly Review for January 31-February 4


Every week at Invested Development we scan the web for articles that relate to what we do and what we like. This week we read a lot about mobile technology in emerging markets, new applications for homeowners to monitor energy use, solar energy, and social entrepreneurship. 

Using Mobile Manners” by Abby Callard
In their latest post, Beyond Profit discusses the ways entrepreneurs are using the growing number of mobile phone users to
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Weekly Review for January 24-28


Every week at Invested Development we scan the web for articles that relate to what we do and what we like. This week we read a lot about… well, we read a lot.  

Greetings from Davos, Switzerland” by Neal Keny-Guyer
This week the World Economic Forum is meeting for the annual discussion of the world’s economy in Davos, Switzerland. There are a lot of issues on the agenda this year, but
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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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