Posts tagged ‘Microfinance’

Carnival of Carnivals Aug. 31, 2009

Cirque Rider, from Rae Belkin

Carnival is the current festive term for a news roundup, particularly if it’s participatory. It’s much happier than news in brief. Here are three I enjoy.

Have a carnival or roundup you like? Add your favorites in the comments.

Carnival of the Mobilists

Writers on mobile and wireless take turns hosting Carnival of the Mobilists. This week’s (#189) is on MSearchGroove, and is heavy on market trends rather than usage scenarios. I did enjoy the host’s new podcast for the inside scoop on SpinVox. SpinVox promises to automate transcription of voice mail messages to readable text. This is understandably attractive to mobile users and venture capitalists alike. However, human transcription is still a big part of the system. If that problem remains, SpinVox is left with cheap data entry based in developing nations, an operation that doesn’t scale, and questions about financial management.

The Weekly Sift (Politics)

(OK, I know the Sift doesn’t travel or rotate authorship. But it’s still an excellent blog roundup. So I’m sneaking it in under the Carnival tent.)

I used to read a lot of US political blogs. Now I rely on The Weekly Sift. Doug Muder chooses his sources for their insight, and adds much of his own as well. Doug is a skillful explainer – he started out as a mathematician before writing computer guides, and now blogs on politics and religion. Each Sift includes two or three in-depth stories plus a collection of short notes. I’ve known Doug for years, and his calm, humane, and sometimes bemused tone shines through his clear prose.

In the Short Notes from today’s Sift:

You’d expect the people who study visualization methods to have a really kick-ass way to visualize their subject matter. They do. Move your mouse around and watch for the pop-ups.

Amidst the forests of cone trees and decision trees I encountered the hype curve.

Gartner hype cycle

Incidentally, I’ve seen that curve recently in CGAP’s article on the hype cycle in mobile banking, and I keep hearing that microfinance in general is moving through its Trough of Disillusionment phase.

Encephalon (Brain and Mind)

For neuroscience and psychology, Encephalon is your source. Edition #74 is hosted at Neuronarrative and is enlivened by Python (Monty) humor. The topics are anything but lightweight, however! Free will, emotion, and intention… criminal behavior… brain fitness software… schizophrenia…

…and a spirited defense of flowcharts!

August 31, 2009 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

August 19 microfinance events, SF

Two microfinance events in San Francisco on Wednesday evening, 8/19. Almost close enough that you could think about going to both. But I expect discussion to be lively at each one, so how could you pry yourself free?

Girls in Tech presents How Microfinance is Changing the Way We Live. The panel discussion features prominent women from Kiva, Wokai, Microplace, PayPal, and TMC Working Solutions. Admission is $10.

The Silicon Valley Microfinance Network hosts Sun’s Stephen Goodman on
Emerging Engagement Models: Lessons from the intersection of emerging technologies and emerging economies. Admission, which includes dinner, is $20 in advance or $30 at the door.

August 3, 2009 at 7:06 pm Leave a comment

Mobile phones in microfinance

Missed an excellent Twitter #MifiMon (Microfinance Monday) on July 20. Fortunately there’s a summary.

Microcredit began as character lending. People with no collateral banded in small groups and became jointly responsible for paying back loans. This is the village model of microcredit most familiar to the public.

But when is technology erroneously substituted for human contact, that face to face accountability which ensures timely loan repayment? And when is it used effectively to connect and empower clients? Credit SMS is about to launch a pilot program in which microloan officers receive weekly payments via SMS, rather than traveling to meet all borrowers.

Lively #MifiMon discussion continues on Facebook,  July 27, starting at 8:30 AM Central.

Also, I enjoyed Tapan Parikh’s lecture [iTunes movie] on appropriate technology for the developing world. In his experimental system, paper procedures for microcredit loans are augmented by mobile phones, which are used for data capture through keypad entry and camera image capture. (Mobile phone + wooden box to stabilize phone above paper = scanner!)

Mobile phones work in environments where people are only intermittently connected to the network and to electric power.

Key elements of Parikh’s system:

  • Paper based, using forms with scan codes.
  • Uses numeric input. Intermediaries read and write on behalf of the village borrowers, but the borrowers themselves are numerate. They can recognize that the number in “their” cell of the paper worksheet is accurately recorded.
  • Provides audio feedback in the local language. This fosters group participation, and also reassures the borrower that their transaction was correctly recorded in the system.

There’s good video of the system at the 32 minute mark, and a summary starts at 42 minutes.

July 24, 2009 at 6:53 pm Leave a comment


Twitter Updates

Recent Posts

Feeds


%d bloggers like this: