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Adam Peterson stakes crates of the last run of 6.5-ounce returnable glass bottles Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Winona, Minn. (Andrew Link/Associated Press)
Adam Peterson stakes crates of the last run of 6.5-ounce returnable glass bottles Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Winona, Minn. (Andrew Link/Associated Press)

Small Business Briefing

Coca-Cola crates deliver aid to Zambia Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz.

No bottlenecks here

Sad but not surprising: When Simon Barry was doing aid work in Zambia in the 1980s, he found it easier to get a Coke than to get some of life’s basic necessities. Fast forward 20 years, Yahoo News reports, and the entrepreneur took that long-ago memory and applied it to a chartable venture.

ColaLife uses the extra space in crates of Coke shipped to Zambia to send its Kits of Life to remote villages. Mr. Barry paired with Coca-Cola Co. as a distribution partner to build the program, fitting the anti-diarrhea kits in between bottle necks, helping save lives in the process.

Mr. Barry is known for using online innovation to support rural areas, and he has won a number of awards in the social enterprise space.

New approach to an old standard

The QWERTY keyboard is one of those old-school concepts that has survived the digital age in good health. But if Minuum’s Will Walmsley has his way, that’s about to change. In an interview with BlogTO, the former University of Toronto teaching assistant says he has created a “tiny keyboard for big fingers.” At about half the size of an average touchscreen keyboard, Minuum uses the basics of the QWERTY keyboard but the letters and numbers are all on one row rather than several rows. An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is set to end in June, and Mr. Walmsley expects a beta app to be ready to go by next year.

They start early these days

Lea Efran sells decorative headbands on Manhattan’s Upper West Side through her company, Snazzee Apparel. Which isn’t that interesting, until you find out she’s six, and she’s successful (relatively speaking, of course). DNAinfo.com says the business started to take off when a gift store called Possibilities at Columbia decided to stock Lea’s product. The store has sold 40 of her headbands at $3.50 (U.S.) each, with two other area stores having agreed to carry the line. Lea also has product diversification on the brain: she wants to add hats, tote bags and doll headbands to the mix. And she gives good quote. The whole experience, she says, has been “really awesome. I couldn't imagine anything better.”

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Give ‘em a boost

Companies from across Canada have submitted their ideas to entertainment business accelerator ideaBOOST. Now the public will help whittle down to a shortlist. Help aspiring businesses accumulate points by liking or tweeting their idea, or give them a more powerful ‘boost’ by subscribing with your email address. Submitting an email is worth ten points, while liking or tweeting is each worth one point. Click on a product to get started.

Support local small businesses

American Express Canada on Tuesday will launch Shop Small. Starting in Toronto, Shop Small “will bring consumers and small businesses together throughout the month of April. The goal of the program is to celebrate the role small businesses play in driving the economy.”

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Startup Visa program launches in Canada

A new federal program kicks off Monday aimed at luring foreign entrepreneurs to set up shop in Canada, but investors warn the competition for funds will be stiff against homegrown startups. The Startup Visa Program is designed to fast-track permanent residency for immigrant entrepreneurs who are able to secure funding from designated Canadian investors, as well as meet certain language and education criteria.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Canadian companies explored Indian market

More than 100 small and medium-sized business owners visited Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar, New Delhi, Amritsar and Jalandhar in January. The Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) headed the trade mission, which provided an opportunity to Canadian small businesses to explore the Indian market. President Naval Bajaj wrote about his experiences.

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