TC-I Week in Review

First off there seems to be a lot of interest in our TC-I Changemakers profiles as that page on our website received a number of hits this week. For us here at ThinkChange India, interviewing people active in the field of social entrepreneurship in India is something that we truly love to do and we expect to bring you many more articles in the future on such agents of change. Check back tomorrow actually for another installment of the series.

Here are the top 3 posts over the last seven days.

  1. Vinay’s interview with TC-I Changemaker Kal Raman of GlobalScholar earned the top spot this week.
  2. Also written by Vinay, a post on GE’s new portable and affordable EKG for rural populations came in second.
  3. Finally, Prerna’s op-ed on whether or not SKS Microfinance should go public placed third.

Highlighted Jobs, Internships and Opportunities

  1. Oxfam’s job openings that we posted about a month back has received renewed attention.
  2. A similar resurgence was enjoyed by our posting of Source For Change’s internship opening.
  3. Finally, Deshpande Foundation’s Fellowship in NW Karnataka is still open for applications.

Reaching into the Archives

Building off of the highlighted post last week, which was written by Prerna, this week we will feature Shital’s very first post as a TC-I editor which spoke to the linkage between migration and remittances.

UNIFAD Seeks Innovative Remittance Proposals

The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development is looking for innovative remittance schemes to invest $13 million into. The initiative is labeled the Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) 2008 and the proposals need should focus on “[p]romoting innovative remittance systems and investment channels for migrants.” The objectives are the following:

* Improve remittance transmission and access to remittance services in rural areas
* Link remittances to financial services and products in rural areas
* Develop innovative and productive rural investment channels and opportunities for migrants and community-based organizations

The funding here will be substantial, and the first deadline is for proposals is May 30th.

Through a four-phase competitive process, the FFR will award grant financing of up to USD 250,000 per project to eligible institutions, to be implemented within a two-year period. Applicants must provide a minimum counterpart contribution of 20 percent of the amount requested (or 30 percent for projects in the Latin America and the Caribbean region), of which at least half should be in cash.


Financial Frontiers: Migration and Remittances

In an increasingly globalized and shrinking world, migration of human beings is becoming more and more common. Whether in pursuit of education, economic opportunity, or greater freedom, migrants are the modern adaptation of nomads. Of all the links created due to this phenomenon, migrants sending remittances home particularly has a large potential impact on the development of the origin country.

A NYTimes article follows Dilip Ratha, a World Banker who is credited for putting remittances on the policy map, as he returns to his village in India. Remittances involve a transfer of money, which is often much larger than amounts received through foreign aid, so these transfers obviously may have an impact on the involved economy. Nowhere is this seen more than in India, the country that receives the highest amount of remittances ($27 billion) from its 20 million migrants.

Most of the money is spent on consumption — food, clothing or a birthday bash — which leads some economists to discount its impact on development. But Mr. Ratha argues migrants would invest more if they had better options. And he regards higher consumption among the poor as a very good thing.

Now that the issue is taken seriously by economists, policy wonks, and governments alike, Mr. Ratha has future goals in mind:

Mulling a leap from thinker to doer, he has drafted plans for an “International Remittances Institute,” to provide cheaper ways to send money — fees often exceed 10 percent — and more options for investing it. Easier access to banks, for example, might improve migrants’ savings rates and expand local lending pools.

The financial services industry may have new frontiers to push with this issue…