Category Archives: Investment

Some thoughts on Clayton Christensens article on Social Innovation

Clayton Christensen, who has written extensively on a number of strategic ideas, recently opined in The Huffington Post about the potential role the White House Office of Social Innovation could play. (The article was co-authored by Vanessa Kirsch who founded New Profit – an interesting organization itself espousing a venture philanthropy model) Continue reading

A conversation on Microfinance

Couple of months ago we had the privilege to host Mr. N. Srinivasan in Boston. Mr. Srinivasan is the author of the ‘Microfinance in India: State of the Sector Report 2008’. He also capped off his 25 year career at National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) as Chief General Manager for his last 6 years.

Over an informal dinner with a number of interested locals, Mr. Srinivasan spoke extensively about the issues facing the current crop of Microfinance institutions (MFIs) in India. The recent focus on MFIs after Prof. Yunus got his Nobel Prize has increased the visibility for these institutions and has also accelerated the flow of funds to this sector creating almost another bubble.  From Boston, Mr. Srinivasan went to the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area where he met with Bhalchander (Bala) Vishwanath, who is himself a budding online micro lending entrepreneur. Continue reading

TIECON Social Enterprise Track Provides New Perspective

For the first time TIECON EAST – TiE Boston’s annual conference on entrepreneurship and innovation – had a dedicated track on Social Enterprise. The three panels in the track – ‘Healthcare Innovation in a Global Village’, ‘IT & Communications for the Developing World’ and ‘Feeding 9 Billion people’ – were all well attended and engaged the attentive audience with the incisive discussions. Here are some excerpts from an article I wrote for Lokvani about the sessions. Continue reading

The Blue Sweater a book by Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz

I had gotten a copy of Acumen Fund founder, Jacqueline Novogratz’s, book “The Blue Sweater” a couple of months ago and had kept promising myself that I would read it. Finally as I was leaving on a short trip to India, I threw it in my bag hoping to get to it during my visit. As the long 15 plus hour trip from Newark to Bombay stretched before me, I settled myself in as best as I could and opened the book expecting to read a few pages and then sleep as much as possible for the rest of the flight.

Once I started reading I was hooked. Before I knew it I had plowed through the entire volume. This is an extraordinary and powerful book. My personal interest in social entrepreneurship, particularly in solving issues in the developing world, had led me to peruse many books in the field – from the seminal one by David Bornstein to Jeff Sachs and Prof. Yunus. Each provided a perspective on development with solutions and suggestions. Yet somehow this book was different. Continue reading

The Increasing Focus on the Rural Indian Consumer

I have been in India for the past week and one of the trends I have noticed is the increased focus on the rural market. Perhaps it is the ongoing elections or maybe the global recession, but companies across the board seem to have a renewed emphasis on targeting the rural consumer.

Culling thru the headlines there are a few key facts that seem to stand out: Continue reading