Venture capital for low-income markets

February 26, 2009
Investing in housing, healthcare, education, basic utilities and nutrition can not only fulfill a social mission, but it can also be a profitable business venture. This is the concept of IGNIA Fund, which will channel venture capital resources to fund commercially viable growth companies serving the “base of the pyramid,” those persons in Latin America and the Caribbean earning less than $3,260 a year. The IGNIA Fund selects projects with the potential to be expanded on a larger scale, thereby increasing the social and economic impact.

Empowering poor people to create wealth

June 23, 2006
When asked by IDB President Moreno what advice he would give to a newly elected Latin American President, Bill Clinton said that the most important thing would be to carry out microeconomic reforms to help people become entrepreneurs and move into the middle class, without getting bogged down in yesterday’s debate over fiscal responsibility versus unbridled social spending, neither of which have managed to lessen the world’s largest income gap.

Jamaica’s New Prime Minister Committed to Reaching the Majority

June 19, 2006
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, the first woman to lead her country’s government, plans to invest more in early childhood education, basic shelter and job training to help improve the lives of the disadvantaged in her island nation.

Laptops for the Majority

June 16, 2006
What’s the best way to move entire towns from poverty to the middle class? Buy each and every child in the community a $100 laptop computer, said MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte at a recent conference launching the IDB’s new Building Opportunity for the Majority initiative. Negroponte is also founder and chair of One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a non-profit organization that is working on developing these $100 laptops for low-income children around the world. 

Expanding access to financial services for the poor

June 16, 2006
Financial institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean have traditionally catered to the elite few, leaving the vast majority of the region’s population without access to credit, savings accounts and other financial services. This pattern of exclusion not only results in lost opportunities for asset creation on the part of low-income families and would-be entrepreneurs, but also in missed business opportunities for banks to tap into a huge market with great growth potential. 

Reaching the Majority: Promising Steps, Future Actions

March 06, 2006
Social programs have at worst downplayed the interactions between program requirements and rates of underdocumentation, or at best fashioned awkward solutions to get around these problems (such as inventing a new identification code for each family in each project). However, there are some promising trends in the region as private, public and international entities take steps to reach those who have been invisible to the system.