Our blog has moved!


You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New ID Website and Blog

With the new year upon us, it's the perfect time to launch our new website and accompanying blog at Invested Development. 

Update your bookmarks and RSS feeds!  Thanks for following Invested Development. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weekly Review January 1-7

Since we wrapped up the year with a Weekly Review on Africa’s prospects for prosperity in 2012, this week we’re taking a look at India. In renewable energy news, the common trend is the focus on India – this week was no exception. We think (and it seems the media agrees) that the clean tech industry will present significant opportunities for investment and development in India.

Photograph: Rafiq Maqbool/AP via The Guardian
 Rural India Turns to Solar Power” by Sonia Narang on PRI’s The World NPR
India enjoys over 300 sunny days each year. Business solutions are increasingly allowing residents in rural, off-grid areas to take advantage of this renewable and natural resource. This article illustrates a simple example of how lighting extends working hours for a rural Indian silk farmer, and increases his productivity and income.

Solar ATMs Bring Change(s) to Rural India” by Jaymi Heimbuch on TreeHugger
An interesting intersection of solar energy and branchless banking, rural India is highly receptive to solar-powered ATMs. Vortex Engineering (whose tagline is “helping banks reach out”) created a solution called “Gramateller” (gram meaning “village”). A Gramateller requires just five hours of sunlight a day to keep the solar ATM charged. The State Bank of India bought 400, allowing for the disbursement of government payments in remote areas.

How solar power can help the billion people without electricity” by Carl Pope on The Guardian Environment Network
Following last month’s Durban climate change talks, the mainstream media is catching onto the demand and need for renewable energy in emerging markets. Even better, news stories are also capturing the benefits of energy’s contribution to poverty reduction. The Guardian highlights “pay-as-you-go” business models, as Simpa Networks is making famous, for their hand in moving the adoption of clean, reliable energy forward in India.

CleanTechnia assesses forecasts from Pike Research, determining that the future is bright in emerging markets. In India particularly, solar is now cheaper than diesel. Research shows that the declining cost of solar will promote distributed energy and rural microgrids. Most importantly, CleanTechnia acknowledges that private investment will “help spur growth and demand” and push the adoption of innovative energy infrastructure, accelerating economic development. 

Follow us on Twitter.
Like us on Facebook 
Learn more about BETA

Friday, December 30, 2011

Weekly Review December 25-31

It’s the last week of the year, and we are surrounded by reflections on 2011 and resolutions for 2012. Here at Invested Development we have both. Our main ambitions for 2012 are to open our third office in India and test some innovative investment structures tailored especially for the techies in Nairobi. While we are excited about the prospects in India, Africa has made the biggest leaps and grabbed the headlines this year, notably from hopeless to hopeful.

Wealth and poverty in Africa – interactive” by Claire Provost and the Guardian interactive team on The Guardian Global Development
Wrapping up 2011, The Guardian posted several interactive charts highlighting Africa’s development. In addition to pulling World Bank Indicators, the charts also show which other world economies grew at similar rates to the African countries. For example, South Africa and the United States both experienced GDP growth of about 3%. Ethiopia and China both experienced GDP growth of about 10%. Check it out for projected GDP growth in 2012, economic inequality, stats on the growing middle class, and more.

Source: The Guardian
Africa’s quest for prosperity” by Calestous Juma on The Guardian Poverty Matters Blog
Local Harvard professor Calestous Juma writes in The Guardian on Africa’s transition from hopeless to hopeful. Professor Juma cites the two most important trends to watch are expanded regional markets and “improved strategies to harness the continent’s diasporas as source of technical expertise and business networks.” Initiatives such as the “Cape-to-Cairo grand free trade area” and heavy investment in infrastructure (particularly new fiber-optic cables) will make the continent stronger. Despite the challenges and large capital requirements for development goals, the diaspora and regional integration has the potential to foster sustainable regional growth in 2012.

12 Predictions for Africa Tech Scene in 2012” by Mbwana Alliy on Afrinnovator
Looking back on 2011, Mbwana Alliy offers his predictions for Africa in 2012. Originally from Tanzania and currently working in Silicon Valley, his predictions for 2012 are valid and we hope he’s right. Smartphone adoption, the evolution and maturity of mobile money, and mobile commerce are trends that we have watched closely in 2011 and we are confident in continuing to pursue them in 2012. As we are already seed stage, impact-focused technology investors, we do not doubt that many others will be following this trend. Alliy’s predictions are worth the read as they offer valuable and candid insights not found in The Economist or the Guardian.

Follow us on Twitter.
Like us on Facebook 
Learn more about BETA

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Weekly Review December 18-24

This week, we took a look at technology stories that will improve the African lifestyle. 

Well done to Ushahidi on raising a $1.9 million round from Omidyar Network. However, as we know, not every Kenyan techie success story is carried with the same glory and ease demonstrated by M-PESA.  Ushahidi’s experience is a great example of the efforts that go into the technology, the pitch, and the business model, and the repeated revisions and improvements. Afrinnovator offers insights into three lessons Ushahidi learned and how future innovators can learn from them.

Dispelling the Top Five Mobile Money Myths” by Ignacio Mas on NextBillion
Interestingly, there are still some doubts about the effectiveness on mobile money (not everywhere is a “Kenya”). Ignacio Mas on NextBillion clarifies the myths that the unfamiliar may assume about mobile money. Measures are in place to prevent money laundering. It’s easy to learn on a familiar tool. It’s safer than hiding cash under mattress. In short, mobile money is useful in its simplicity and that is what makes it so effective.

MTN, one of Africa’s largest mobile network operators (MNOs), has signed an MOU with Fortis to provide mobile money services to its customers. Fortis is a leading provider of microfinance in Nigeria. The combination of the extensive agent networks should lead to a successful rollout of mobile money in Nigeria.

Airtel Ghana is now providing mobile commerce services. The Airtel Money platform will allow customers to pay bills, transfer money, and withdraw money from ATMs.

ICT tools such as mobile phones, mobile broadband, and tablets can provide real time information to rural farmers. We’ve seen such agri-mobile application as mFarm, showing that innovation is coming from the bottom up. Now the idea is supported by the Technical  Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation, who is calling for the distribution of ICT tools to rural African farmers. African governments should be spending 3.5 percent of GDP on agricultural extension services, as agriculture generally accounts for 30+% of the continent’s GDP.

Follow us on Twitter.
Like us on Facebook
Learn more about BETA.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Weekly Review December 11-17

This week, headlines on technology and mobile phones in India caught our attention. The innovations and solutions to existing problems in the market continue to inspire us.

India’s ‘missed call’ mobile ecosystem” by Katie Fehrenbacker on Gigaom
This article called a missed call “the poor man’s text message” in India. The missed call is a great example of users in emerging markets taking advantage of the resources available to them. Although it means extremely low average revenue per user (ARPU), every telecom’s nightmare, it presents significant opportunities for innovation from social entrepreneurs.

The World’s Cheapest Tablet, Finally on Sale” by Margherita Stancati on WSJ India Blog
We first reported on this back in October, and now it is officially on the market. Aakash, the US$35 Android tablet made by DataWind is now available for sale. An upgrade is coming in the New Year, but this tablet should make a significant splash in India. You can order one here.

Pursuing a world of mobile wallets” on Times of India
Mobile phones are integrated into almost every aspect of daily life in India, yet there is still more room for mobile phones to provide valuable services.  For example, mobile banking seems to be playing a critical role in the quest answer for mass financial inclusion. This article in Time of India points to trends that would lead to the mobile phone and mobile wallets being in all facets of business and government.

The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia is pushing for increased broadband and mobile penetration in India. Ahluwalia believes this will ultimately promote financial inclusion, while lowering the cost of doing so. This will eventually enable all citizens to receive the benefits of financial exchanges.

Thanks to everyone who came out to CleanTechThatMatters on Wednesday! We were delighted with the turnout and excited about all of the projects we heard about. Keep an eye out for the next one! 

Follow us on Twitter.
Like us on Facebook 
Learn more about BETA