Monday, November 26, 2007

An Internet Story - India Rail tickets

Its much easier to make reservations for travel in India from US than from India. Sitting here in Silicon Valley, I could make reservations on Indian Railways that professional travel agents in Delhi could not! This past week, I have personally experienced internet power. We are planning an India trip and for various reasons decided to take an overnight train. We contacted friends; asked travel agents but no luck- either no tickets available or try later- then it occured to us to try the internet ourselves- from the land of unlimited bandwidth - we were able to log in right away to a friendly Indian Railways screen, get all information, reserve, make payments and were done in ten minutes. I found out later that the travel agents in India also try to do the same thing - but in India where only one in 3 computers is networked and bandwidth is unrelible - they could not do it and eventully they do it through a courier - just like the old days!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

From Knowledge to Creativity Economy

For ideas on the new economy - Check out the Business week article Get Creative!: "What was once central to corporations -- price, quality, and much of the left-brain, digitized analytical work associated with knowledge -- is fast being shipped off to lower-paid, highly trained Chinese and Indians, as well as Hungarians, Czechs, and Russians. Increasingly, the new core competence is creativity -- the right-brain stuff that smart companies are now harnessing to generate top-line growth. The game is changing. It isn't just about math and science anymore. It's about creativity, imagination". Social entrepreneurs need this skills more than ever a they ntegrate technology with new user experiences.

Monday, November 12, 2007

BiD - connecting investors, entrepreneurs

The mission of the BiD Network Foundation is to contribute to sustainable economic development by stimulating entrepreneurship in developing countries. Thierry Sanders and Koen Wasmus have created an online investment platform and community to tackle the key problems facing investors wanting to help stimulate economic development in emerging markets. This year the BiD Network received 3,400 business proposals from over 100 countries. It operates competitions in Kenya, Tanzania, Philippines, India, Argentina, Columbia and Peru. All of this happens online though In addition to the business plan, over 3,700 active members contribute to the online community to help entrepreneurs in developing countries. In the first year alone the BiD Network assisted the start-up of almost 20 companies in developing countries that help reduce poverty and employ over 500 people.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Looking for Some Capital- Tech Laureates

Annually, the Tech Museum in San Jose hosts tech laureates award where the best of the best "humanitarians with business plans" are recognised. This year, as every year since 2001, people with mind boggling innovations with a potential to eradicate poverty, solve the renewable energy crisis, bring education to all, not to mention make healthcare affordable and accessible were recognised and honored. Everybody who is anybody in the field of social entrepreneurship awaits this event. A quick look at the website told me that so far 175 of these incredible innovations have been recognised. But, here is the big BUT why has poverty been increasing at the global level? Why are we still deploying fossil fuel based solutions for electricity production? Why are these innovations reserved for the poor who can't pay? I wish I knew the answer! I attended the day long seminar at Santa Clara University today (Technology for Humanity) where the tech laureates, foundations and representatives of multinationals talked about the difficulty of scaling socially motivated businesses. With the billions of dollars being invested in all sorts of tech businesses (Tesla Motors raised something like $100M for a 100K electric car) how do we get capital providers to take more risk in socially motivated businesses? Can we think of it as R&D for social impact? R&D that will eventually pay off not just socially but also financially? Can social entrepreneurs band together - sort of like mergers- instead of each one being individually heroic?