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EKO India Financial Services Named A 2011 Tech Awards Laureate by the Tech Museum

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Eko India Financial Services is One of 15 Innovators from Around the World Recognized for Applying Technology to Benefit Humanity

(SAN JOSE, Calif. and New Delhi, India) Sept. 15, 2011 – Eko India Financial Services (Eko), was today named as a laureate of The Tech Awards 2011, one of 15 global innovators recognized each year for applying technology to benefit humanity and spark global change. The Tech Awards, a signature program of The Tech Museum, and presented by Applied Materials, Inc., selected Eko from among hundreds of nominations representing 54 countries.

The Tech Awards: Technology Benefiting Humanity is one of the premier annual humanitarian awards programs in the world, recognizing technical solutions that benefit humanity and address the most critical issues facing our planet and its people. The awards program honors 15 scientists and innovators annually alongside the recipient of the Global Humanitarian Award. Laureates are selected by a prestigious panel of international judges organized by the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University, and made up of Santa Clara University faculty as well as leaders from educational and research institutions, industry and the public sector around the world.

“The Tech Awards is an outstanding honor, recognizing individuals and organizations whose ideas and their execution are changing the world,” said Abhishek Sinha, Co-Founder and CEO, Eko. “We are ecstatic to receive this recognition at such a prestigious global platform. It is a proud moment for us to be amidst those recognized for their contributions, and we will continue to develop solutions that improve the overall well being of people worldwide.”

“The global challenges of the day have become increasingly strident, more deeply rooted,” said David Whitman, Vice President of Signature Programs at The Tech Museum. “Still, there is hope. These incredibly impressive Laureates have all proven to be equal to, or better than, the challenge to make the world a better place. By celebrating their accomplishments today, we are encouraging future innovators to work toward solutions to make the world healthier, safer and more sustainable.”

Established in 2000, The Tech Awards recognizes 15 Laureates in five universal categories: education, equality, environment, economic development and health. These laureates have developed new technological solutions or innovative ways to use existing technologies to significantly improve the lives of people around the world. One laureate in each category will receive a $50,000 cash prize during the annual Awards Gala in Santa Clara CA. on October 20.

This year, the laureates represent the truly global vision of the program, spanning countries such as India, Honduras and Ethiopia. Their work impacts people in many more countries worldwide.

The Tech Awards collaborates with humanitarian, educational, and business partners through global outreach efforts, giving people around the world the opportunity to benefit from the successful technologies recognized through The Tech Awards. The selected laureates’ projects address multiple humanitarian efforts including developing alternate ways to generate electricity, creating free educational tools, and improving literacy among children.

Key sponsors supporting The Tech Awards include Applied Materials, Inc., Intel Corporation, Nokia, Microsoft, Swanson Foundation, Flextronics, Polycom, Skoll Foundation, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Accenture, eBay, Qatalyst, Google, Wells Fargo, Xilinx, American Airlines, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Bain & Company, NBC11, San Jose Mercury News, Forbes, Stanford Social Innovation Review, TIME, Xfinity, MEMC Electronic Materials, Brassfield Estate Winery, Hilton San Jose, Convention Plaza Hotel, and Hayward Quartz Technology.

For more information about The Tech Awards, visit The Tech Awards

About The Tech Museum

The Tech Museum is a hands-on science and technology institution designed to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in experiences that educate, inform, provoke thought, and inspire action. Ensconced in the heart of Silicon Valley, the museum captures the spirit of the region through innovative content and programs such as The Tech Challenge, our annual team design competition for youth, and the internationally renowned The Tech Awards, which recognizes technology to benefit humanity. Daily, The Tech Museum celebrates the present and encourages the development of pioneering ideas for a more promising future. For more information about The Tech Museum, visit The Tech Museum

About Eko 

Eko India Financial Services Private Limited (“Eko”) is a leading Business Correspondent (“BC”) and mobile banking technology provider in India. As a BC of the State Bank of India and ICICI Bank, Eko converts every retail shop into a low-cost distribution and payment infrastructure, extending the reach of banks to enable small value financial transactions instantly.

Eko presently serves over 900,000 customers across over 1,300 outlets (grocers, pharmacies, stationery shops, small cyber cafes, telecom shops etc.) across Delhi-NCR, Bihar and Jharkhand. These outlets have bank and Eko branding where customers can obtain a no-frills savings and other bank accounts in a matter of a few minutes. Eko also enables deposits, withdrawals and remittances for customers. Using any mobile phone and simple text messages, the agent or the customer may transact with core banking systems on a real-time basis, anywhere.

Additionally, Eko enables instant disbursal of payments to Accredited Social Heath Activist (ASHA) workers employed under the National Rural Health Mission in Sheikhpura, Bihar. Eko has also initiated a pilot for a small ticket over-the-counter Micro Life Insurance product.

Eko has served 998,135 customers through its 1,300 customer service outlets and employs 90 people. Recently, Eko crossed $245 million USD (1,100 crore INR) of transactions processed across 2.5 million customer transactions. Eko is headquartered in New Delhi, India with operations in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), Bihar and Jharkhand and supporting other BCs operations in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

Eko hopes to reach out to millions of financially excluded people over the next few years and extend formal financial services at their friendly neighborhood store.

For more information about Eko, go to:

www.eko.co.in

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CONTACTS:

Mugdha Bhargava

Eko India

mugdha@eko.co.in

+91 9717492959

Roqua Montez

The Tech Museum of Innovation

(408) 795-6225

lcroel@thetech.org

Anne Heise

Ogilvy PR

(415) 677-2731

anne.heise@ogilvypr.com

Impact Investing: Happy Returns – Economist.com

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The birth of a virtuous new asset class

Sep 10th 2011 | NEW YORK | from the print edition

 

 

“BACKING someone to live,” is how Leapfrog Investment’s first deal is described by Jim Roth, the co-founder of the “profit with purpose” private-equity firm. That was two years ago, a $6.7m stake in AllLife, a South African firm that provides life insurance to people with AIDS and infected with HIV, subject only to the condition that they submit to regular blood tests to prove they are taking their life-saving anti-retroviral drugs.

“This provides cover to people whom other insurers shun, makes it possible for them to get other financial services like a mortgage, and is highly profitable,” says Mr Roth. Other microinsurance investments have followed, in Kenya and, this week, in an Indian firm called Shiram that distributes savings, insurance and investment products to millions of poor people.

How Leapfrog’s investments perform will be closely watched. Although its $135m fund is small, Leapfrog is one of the potential stars of what JPMorgan last year described as an emerging new alternative-asset class called “impact investments”, designed to yield both a financial return and a broader benefit to society. The latest $15m investment is intended to help Shriram grow within a year to serve 10m people, 85% living on less than $2.50 a day. But it should also “generate private-equity returns”, says Mr Roth, which should mean several percentage points a year more over a decade than a stockmarket index.

Not everyone is convinced that impact investing is a true asset class. “Impact investing touches every asset class,” says Ron Cordes, who made a fortune in traditional finance before co-founding Impact Assets, an intermediary focused on building up the sector. “But many people think hedge funds are an asset class, and by that yardstick impact investment is, too.”

Mr Cordes shares the bullishness of JPMorgan, which predicts that by 2020 there could be between $400 billion and $1 trillion invested this way, generating cumulative profits over ten years of between $183 billion and $667 billion. There is already demand from a broad mix of investors, as Leapfrog illustrates. Its backers range from philanthropists such as George Soros, a hedge-fund manager, and Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, to banks, reinsurers and pension funds.

These investors have greater choice than ever. Five years ago anyone wanting explicitly to combine financial returns with virtue was limited to investing in social housing for poorer people in rich countries, microcredit and a handful of ethical mutual funds that shun sinful shares such as tobacco and defence companies. In June Impact Assets published a list of the top 50 impact investors, ranging from Blue Orchard, which has invested around $1 billion in microcredit, to IGNIA, which is investing its first $100m fund in growing small businesses in Latin America and is about to start raising a second fund.

What differentiates an impact investor from a regular sort is much debated. “It is about having the right intentions, to improve the world as well as make money, and about taking seriously the process, especially measuring social performance,” says Jed Emerson, co-author of a new book on impact investing. Leapfrog has turned down investments that a regular fund might have made: Mr Roth gives the example of a fast-growing African insurer that makes large profits by doing all it can to avoid paying claims. But the tensions between business and social principles are not always easily resolved: one worry is that warm-hearted types may be reluctant to fire underperforming managers.

Other hurdles must be overcome if impact investing is to soar. New regulations are needed (to clarify, for instance, whether pension funds can invest with an explicitly social purpose). More people need to be tempted out of mainstream finance. Better metrics for social impact are essential. None of this is easy, especially in turbulent times. On the other hand, Mr Cordes says that the penny dropped for him in 2008, when the financial markets crashed and “microfinance debt was the top-performing piece of my portfolio.”

from the print edition | Finance and economics

Microlending Lights Up the Globe – Kiva’s Impact

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Intercontinental Ballistic Microfinance from Kiva on Vimeo.