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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,

Exits: Method and GoodGuide Deals Offer Evidence

One of the enduring raps against impact investing is the scarcity of exits that return capital to investors. The acquisitions this summer of green cleaning brand Method Products Inc. and GoodGuide, a consumer products rating service, may help to allay such concerns. Both of the private-equity backed companies delivered solid cash-on-cash returns to their financial

SevaMob: Convertible Loan to Replicate Health Care Model

Shelley Saxena used capital and intellectual property from his Atlanta-based tech startup to bootstrap the launch of SevaMob, which is building a distribution system for low-cost preventive health services in Lucknow, the Uttar Pradesh district where he was born. Now the Cornell MBA has taken his first outside investment, a $50,000 convertible note from Village