Microfinance

The Economist writes:

Microfinance is in vogue thanks partly to the IFIs, which provided grants, loans and training to untested microcredit institutions. The private sector shunned the riskout of ignorance, a lack of expertise and fears that making money from the poor would look predatory. The pioneering work of donors means there are now some 10,000 microfinance institutions lending an average of less than $300 to 40m poor borrowers worldwide.

Only a fraction of the world’s 500m impoverished micro-entrepreneurs have access to the financial system. There is not enough donor or socially responsible money in the world to meet the demand. That’s why microfinance needs private-sector capital. Aid agencies, philanthropists and well-meaning social investors can help attract it by investing only where commercial outfits will not. When the children come of age, the best parents step aside.

Microsoft and Wireless

Ed Sim writes following Microsoft’s acquisition of Tellme:

I remember when I started in the VC world over 11 years ago, the question we always had to ask ourselves before we made an investment was “what is Microsoft doing or going to do?” As I reflect on the last decade, I never really did think that as an investor in software and the Internet that the question would become almost irrelevant and would change to “what is Google doing or going to do?” Given all of the discussion about Microsoft being dead, I must say that while they are still a distant third in the search space, they did make a brilliant move in acquiring TellMe. While most of the revenue does come from TellMe’s hosted speech applications for customer service, the big value in the long run will be Microsoft’s ability to incorporate TellMe’s mobile search and voice-driven search through the mobile handset. In other words, it seems that while Microsoft is not conceding to Google in search, that it does recognize that the mobile opportunity is potentially much larger and that this acquisition will clearly give it a big lead in the mobile space. Think about it – when you leave home, you grab your keys, wallet, and cell phone. The opportunity to reach and market to this third screen is huge and just in the first inning.