Gram Vaani: Social Networks for the Global Poor

Unfinished health care clinics and schools being completed across India. Widows of deceased migrant workers receiving their due compensation. Farmers accessing information to increase productivity. Fishermen sharing weather information. India’s poor are finding a voice—or more accurately, a social media platform to share it—on Mobile Vaani, the largest voice-based social media platform in the world. Mobile

Beartooth Capital: Conserving Wide Open Spaces

Western ranches present iconic American images of cowboys and cattle, homes on the range and purple mountains majesty. Those images have been fading for decades, as the West’s wide open spaces have been degraded, encroached and subdivided. Now, investors in Western ranches are finding another way to make money: conservation. Beartooth Capital, based in Bozeman,

Progreso Financiero: Banking on the Unbanked

Payday lenders, who sometimes charge more than 400 percent in annual interest, are a big fat juicy target for a new breed of mission-driven financial institutions. Short-term payday loans and other “alternative” financial services, such as check-cashing and money transfers, cater to the one-quarter of U.S. households that don’t have bank accounts. The 68 million

Living Goods: Selling Health Door-to-Door

Living Goods is a global health strategy wrapped in a retail distribution business wrapped in a nonprofit company. In Uganda and, since last year, in Kenya, more than 1,000 Living Goods “community health promoters” in bright blue T-shirts make their rounds through urban slums and rural neighborhoods, peddling an assortment of malaria medicine, fortified cereals,

Kuli Kuli: Taking an Impact Food Venture to the Crowd

Phrases like “food startup with a social mission,” “a 20-something female CEO only a few years out of the Peace Corps” or “supplied by women farmers in West Africa” are likely to land your business plan in a traditional venture capitalist’s polite-rejection pile. But the same factors that initially turned off many VCs resonated with

Trilinc: Impact Opportunities for Retail Investors

Gloria Nelund is bringing impact investing to Main Street. Her TriLinc Global Impact Fund, with individual investments as low as $2,000, is among only a handful of financial vehicles available to “retail” investors,” the approximately 50 million U.S. households who don’t qualify as high net-worth, or “accredited,” investors. That gives a broader group of individual investors

Giving Voice, and Business Advice, to African Fish Farmers

The ‘aha’ moment came during a simple phone call from Alloysius Attah’s aunt. If Ghanaian women like the cassava farmer who raised him were using basic mobile phones, Attah realized Farmerline could help them increase their yields and their incomes. Since the spring, Attah and Farmerline have used simple voice messages — in Twi, Ga,