Friday, April 06, 2007

Moving Beyond Communications

The concept of micro finance fascinates me. The basic idea is that by using the same tools that make open source and Web distributed communications possible, everyone with money can become a lender and anyone can become a borrower.

Steve Hamm points to Kiva, which is a site that lets people in the US and other moneyed western nations provide loans to entrepreneurs in developing nations. So an entrepreneur puts up their pitch and then a person such as myself reads it and decides how much money to provide. Of course, I wouldn't be the only person loaning money, so while I may only put in $25, someone else may put up $100 or $50. Eventually the entrepreneur will get the capital they need and then start paying back the loan. And if that person defaults, each one of us is out the few bucks, but if the person pays back the loan everyone makes a little money.

Another site like this geared at Americans is Prosper. I found people on there looking for loans for everything from home improvements to adoption.

Personally, I haven't yet put my money where the need is, but I'd like to soon. I love it when these tools move beyond simple communication and start to change lives.

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