A quick update to my MicroFinance in Marco Economies article -- I read an article in the WSJ this weekend that chronicled 13 year old non-profit Endeavor, which provides VC-like services to entrepreneurs in poor countries and communities. They leverage their Ivy league educations, business connections, and savvy to incubate successful businesses. They focus on building larger, scalable entities (as opposed to microfinance which focuses on the $1/day market) such as the "Latin America etrade" and a Turkish version of Cisco. They've had IPOs, and their entrepreneurs accounted for 135,000 jobs and $3.5B in sales last year (the bulk in Argentina).
Kudos to Linda Rottenberg and her team. This is a great effort that leverages capitalistic methods to complex societal problems. It also illustrates that free market philanthropy doesn't only work on the "bottom of the pyramid", but can work to build large startups and could even work in mature economies like the US.