Notes from Underground: Boosting livelihoods in the informal economy

Johannesburg — The vast underground economy around the world is characterized by below-the-radar flows of money, tax evasion, and poor labor conditions. Less obvious are the sector’s important lessons for self-regulation, new income streams and inclusive financial innovation. Rather than force food vendors, taxi drivers and small farmers to join the formal economy, new business models are

Abraaj sets sights on India’s debt investments

Dubai-based Abraaj Group is the latest in a line of institutional investors making a move on India’s debt markets. The $10 billion money manager has traditionally focused on private equity and real estate investing, but is reportedly considering structured credit deals, like corporate loans and bonds. Among several structured credit deals Abraaj is evaluating is one in

Accel Partners’ new India fund leads AgroStart’s $10 million raise

Accel Partners’ new India fund has led AgroStart’s $10 million raise. The Silicon Valley venture firm, which last year raised $450 million for its fifth India fund, teamed up with impact investor Aavishkaar and IDG Ventures to back the New Delhi agtech startup. AgroStart helps Indian farmers bypass middlemen to buy seeds, nutrients and hardware and provides

The global middle class is emerging even faster than we thought

The “next billion” may be more like the next two billion, or more. The faster-than-expected growth of the middle class, particularly in Asia, means the world could add 2.2 billion middle-class consumers by 2030, nearly one billion more than previous forecasts. A new analysis from Homi Kharas at the Brookings Institution suggests the world could

Samunnati raises $4.5 million to extend small ag finance in India

Chennai-based agriculture finance company Samunnati raised $4.5 million from Accel Partners, Elevar Equity and others. The company provides credit, loans, and other financial products to small and micro-agribusinesses, which have difficulty accessing services from banks. Samunnati looks at “cash flow patterns, seasonality and the nature of collateral in [agriculture] supply chains” and other nontraditional risk indicators.

Network Effects: Impact Seed Funds in Africa and Latin America Share Secrets and Struggles

Early-stage investing in emerging markets is hard. A commitment to serve low-income customers makes it even more challenging. Scaling that up around the world? Next to impossible. Capria Network thinks it has cracked the code. With its latest $2 million in investments in early-stage impact funds in west Africa, South Africa, Colombia and Brazil, the

RedCarpet raises $2.5 million for student microlending in India

RedCarpet has raised $2.5 million for student microlending in India. Lightspeed Venture Partners, fresh off the successful IPO of their portfolio company Snap, led the round. RedCarpet, based in Gurgaon, India, works with microfinance lenders and non-traditional lenders to offer students who lack access to bank credit loans of between 5,000 and 8,000 rupees ($75 to $120),