LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

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Seeding startups to serve the BOP with money and knowledge

We’ve been of the opinion that the only way to sustainably serve the poor is to see them as customers. Our research supported this conclusion. Here is a story from HuffPost about some people who are putting USD 8 million behind this idea. There is actually more.

A team of technology veterans has raised $8 million for one of the first funds making early-stage investments in companies meeting the basic needs of low-income customers at the base of India’s economic pyramid.

The commitments, including from billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, will launch the Unitus Seed Fund, which is looking for start-ups providing products and services such as early childhood education, preventive health care, affordable necessities and income-generating opportunities.

Money is essential, but it isn’t enough. Few years back we developed a proposal that sought to provide m apps innovators with knowledge about users at the BOP (we wanted to develop innovator briefs, based on our T@BOP findings). For reasons unknown the money went to some Pakistan govt body and then they did not do the work. But happily, the ideas lived on. The results, for Kenya and S Africa, are at


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