Safaricom backs FarmDrive to improve small farmers’ access to credit

The dominant Kenyan mobile provider Safaricom provided a small convertible loan to FarmDrive, which helps small-scale farmers access loans. FarmDrive analyzes income streams, expenses and crop yields and assigns farmers a credit score. Credit enables farmers to invest in farming equipment and practices to boost productivity and income. Safaricom’s investment came from its $1 million Spark Fund, which

Silicon Valley aims to democratize individualized education

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen predicts two kinds of jobs in the future: some people will tell computers what to do, others will be told what to do by computers. The difference may be education that emphasizes individuality, a long-time privilege for affluent families, reports the Financial Times. The Emerson Collective, backed by Laurene Powell Jobs,

Calvert Foundation and U.S. Bancorp back $20 million fund for small business lending

Calvert Foundation and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation have backed a new $20 million fund for small business lending in U.S. communities. Greenline Ventures, a minority-controlled and employee-owned firm in Denver, will manage the fund. The fund leverages New Markets Tax Credits, a federal program that incentivizes business and real estate investment in low-income U.S. communities

The Holberton School raises $2.3 million to train techies

The Holberton School raised $2.3 million to train more techies. The two-year old San Francisco school helps meet demand for software engineers and programmers by training adult student for careers in tech. Holberton raised new funds from Paris venture capital firm Daphni, Reach Capital and Jerry Murdock, co-founder of Insight Venture Partners. At Holberton tuition is free

Agora Partnerships stocks the pipeline of Latin American social business startups

The incoming class for Agora Partnerships’ accelerator program includes 31 companies from 12 countries in Latin America and Caribbean, including one from Haiti. Major themes include urban innovation, health access, ethical fashion, water and sanitation, clean tech, education for all and sustainable food and agriculture. This year Agora is adding training around the UN Sustainable Development

Billion-dollar firms tap talent

San Francisco-based Impact Community Capital, a $1 billion investment firm backed by leading insurers including Allstate, MetLife and State Farm made interim chief Jeff Brenner its permanent chief executive. ICC finances housing, community healthcare facilities and childcare centers in low-income communities across the U.S. Global impact investor Oikocredit, the Dutch lender to microfinance institutions worldwide with

Direct cash transfers show promise as anti-poverty tool

The evidence base is growing for the effectiveness of giving cash directly to the poor. A new report from Britain’s Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) found the U.K.’s cash transfer programs delivered “increasing incomes and consumption levels for the poorest households, with modest but positive effects on savings, asset accumulation and debt reduction.” In East