Focus on Africa

Continuing on the theme of the Labs Global Award 2011 categories, this week I’d like to highlight a couple of ventures related to African entrepreneurs. By now, I think everyone’s heard of and perhaps been involved in, the micro-lending organization that seeks to “connect people…for the sake of alleviating poverty.”  According to their website, Kiva organizes an average of one loan every ten seconds, with a repayment rate of almost 99%.  Their success is also reflected by the fact that, on average, on Kiva user makes 6.46 loans, meaning users are very happy with the service and willing to loan repeatedly.  Readers interested in Africa specifically (especially for readers in Cape Town where an initiative has been started focusing on finding micro-lenders) should look at Kiva’s extensive list of Field Partners, here. I also came across an organization called JamiiBora (“good families”), which is the largest micro-lending institution in Kenya (as of 2007; see this excellent New York Times article).  JamiiBora is using a mobile phone-based system which allows loan recipients in rural areas to receive payments, make payments, and do other business electronically.  They no longer have to go to urban areas to get access to more formal banking arrangements or ATMs.  The company also recruits its staff from members who were once loan recipients – a great model for sustainability.


Lastly, I wanted to call your attention to a recently-released database of social enterprises called iuMAP.  It is an initial attempt at cataloguing these businesses in order to aid investors, entrepreneurs, and others in connecting and learning from one another.  It was created by Allyu, an organization focus on “putting social enterprise on the map.”  IuMAP has about 450 “bottom of the pyramid” organizations catalogued currently, in addition to various related information and resources.  Another useful tool for identifying African-focused social enterprises.

-Terra Curtis