Business ideas worth spreading

Ok, so I’m still procrastinating with TED.

But  here’s an interesting one (not many that aren’t…) on simple designs that could save millions of childrens’ lives.

These are the kinds of ideas that need to be spread to the entrepreneurs of the world.  I’m sure that VCs can contest that there are enough ‘bad ideas’ out there.  I think that entrepreneurs often have the guts and the motivation to get something moving, but they aren’t always the best innovators and vice versa, the innovators don’t always have the market experience to push something forward.

So, business people take note: these are ideas worth capitalizing on.   

We can argue that the business people are out for money and there’s no money to be made with these low income people. But, there’s plenty of research that says otherwise (i.e. it’s the Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid).

And, I hope that whoever decides to use their energy on these kind of ventures get rewarded for it.  If you can get rich while solving an actual problem, all the power to you:)

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One thought on “Business ideas worth spreading

  1. Jay Godse says:

    Amy has some great ideas for producing more efficient fuel for 3rd world poor folks. These ideas are implementable by local people (good) using low-tech (good) and local materials (good). An investment in any of these will probably yield a positive ROI because inputs are easy, ideas are easy, and it is at the ability of the people, and the savings in fuel “costs” are high enough to show a positive ROI. Great so far…

    VCs would probably not invest in these ideas. Why? VCs want businesses that grow revenues much faster than the rate at which you add people to the business. That is what enables a lucrative flip in 4 years. Alas, these technologies have no such appeal. The source of money is poor (3rd world poor no less). Each deployment of the technology takes a fixed number of people. Distribution and education of the market will be slow. Even if these weren’t slow, intellectual property rights (from which you can collect monopoly rents) are hard to enforce. From a VC perspective, this has all the marks of a “loser” business.

    However there is hope. In the last 15 years a network of micro-finance providers (e.g. kiva.org or Grameen Bank) has crept into the 3rd world and has converted the strong social network ties of these poor 3rd world folks into tangible collateral for micro-loans. This has enabled micro-finance to actually make money lending money to poor 3rd world folks at non-usurious rates. i.e. The poor folks benefit too.

    These technologies from Amy et al at MIT have a natural distribution network in these micro-finance networks. For example, kiva.org could be a marketing and distribution channel for one of these charcoal briquet micro-plants. Everybody benefits…the poor folks have their lives enriched, kiva.org funds another successful project, and the producers of the charcoal briquet micro-plant makes a bit of money…not much though, but enough to justify improving products.

    It would be cool to see this happen…

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