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Sheldon Rampton's blog

Country Case tudy: Scaling Up India - Formalization of Microfinance Institutions

Vineet Rai, co-founder and director, Intellecap

Intellecap stands for "intellectual capital."

60% of the company is owned by Vineet, friends and employees.

Microfinance and india is an exciting market. Estimated market size is between 57.9 and 245.7 million clients. (57.9 million households are below the national poverty line.)

Together there have been disbursals of around US$3.7 billion, addressing "almost seven percent of our demand estimates of US$51.4 billion).

The Future of the Microfinance Industry

Louise Westerlind, CGAP:

Five big things in 2007:

  • Exponential growth of socially responsible investment (SRI): (>US$4 trillion)
  • Investors made big strides in addressing the need for local currency products
  • Compartamos IPO triggered healthy discussion about investors' motivations. (Stock ticker BMOSF).
  • THe handful of IFIs and the 95 MIVs investing in microfinance are doubling their aggregate portfolio

Global Microfinance Investment Congress

The following are my notes from the Global Microfinance Congress, which I'm attending today with Emily Allred from the Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua. I'm catching these notes on the fly, so I can't promise that I'm quoting everyone accurately or fully.

Comments by Arnaud Ventura, vice president, PlaNet Finance

Banks and international finance institutions are becoming important players in microfinance. It's more than just the talk and noise about it; it's concrete actions in the field.

Stairmaster desk, phase one

Here's a photo of my "Stairmaster desk," which I've developed as a Stairmaster alternative to the Treadmill desk.

The idea of a treadmill desk stems from research done by Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic. Levine studies "non-exercise activity thermogenesis" (NEAT), which is medical lingo for "activities that aren't strenuous enough to be considered exercise but still burn calories." He finds, for example, that just walking at a casual pace burns about 100 more calories per hour than sitting. He's therefore worked with a company called Steelcase to design a "walkstation" that consists of a treadmill attached to a desk, where people can walk at a slow pace throughout the workday.

The only problem is, the Walkstation costs about $4,000, so hacker ingenuity is stepping in to develop cheaper solutions. Jay Buster (see link above) added a desk surface to a used treadmill, using $49 in materials. I don't own a treadmill, and I'm not sure I have the space for one, but I do own a Stairmaster (which I bought used a few years ago via eBay). I wanted to see whether a Stairmaster desk would work as well as a treadmill desk.

Testing iTunes link

This should produce a link to the tune, "Night Passage," on Joe Zawinul's album, "Brown Street," which features my brother Kenny on flügelhorn:
Joe Zawinul - Brown Street - Night Passage

I created it using Apple's iTunes Link Maker.

Kudos to Mike and Gini

The Madison Capitol Times had a story today about my friends Mike and Gini Zirkel who have done some volunteering to help victims of Hurricane Katrina:

http://www.madison.com/tct/mad/topstories/index.php?ntid=62740

I first met Mike and Gini through my involvement with the Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua. They're the sort of people who look for ways to help others. It's good to see it recognized.

Dead and Loving It

I'm not a fan of country music, but I saw a music video on Country Music Television today that caught my attention. Sung by Trace Adkins, it's titled "Arlington," and it is written from the point of view of a soldier buried in Arlington National Cemetery:

I never thought that this is where I'd settle down.
I thought I'd die an old man back in my hometown.
They gave me this plot of land,
Me and some other men, for a job well done.

There's a big White House sits on a hill just up the road.
The man inside, he cried the day they brought me home.
They folded up a flag and told my Mom and Dad:
"We're proud of your son."

Congratulations, Walter

This weekend I was exercising at home with the TV on for company, and when I started flipping channels, all of a sudden the face appeared of Walter Kirn, one of my old Princeton classmates. He was on CSPAN talking with Brian Lamb about his life as a novelist and literary critic and his recent adventures blogging on Andrew Sullivan's website.

It turns out that Walter also has a new novel coming out this October, titled Mission to America. And, one of his previous novels, Thumbsucker, has just been made into a movie.

What's the "proper way to grieve"?

Jon Friedman, who writes for MarketWatch, posted some thoughts about Cindy Sheehan in his latest column that seem, well, stupid. They're the sort of remarks that I might critique on a blog post at the website of the Center for Media and Democracy if there were more of a connection to the Center's mission (exposing spin and propaganda), but instead I'll comment on them here.

Friedman seems to think that USA Today's reporter Judy Keen is devoting too much attention to the "Sheehan circus," so he interviewed Keen and peppered her with questions, asking for example whether Sheehan "had begun to enjoy the massive media attention" or whether "the media are distorting the Sheehan story out of all proportions."

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