A friend’s client wanted to help Ghana. Microlending seemed to be a good way to do it. The client would collect money in the US, and fund small loans to farmers and entrepreneurs in Ghana. The web might even make the first half of this — collecting money and telling the stories of who was helped — easy.
My friend was all set to start writing code. That’s his business, after all.
But did code needed writing? I could think of lots of options for helping Ghana — and finding like-minded people — with sites already on the web.
- Kiva does micro-loans across the globe. They’ve gotten lots of press, and do a pretty good job of getting their projects’ stories back to donors.
- MicroPlace is eBay and Calvert’s entry into microfinance. This is organized like a mutual fund, with on-the-ground folks coordinating investments in a particular country. They are making loans in Ghana now.
- GlobalGiving does vet their projects, but there’s a standard process for that — so it may be that the client’s project could get registered with them, and use their fundraising infrastructure.
- Nabuur organizes volunteers, not loans, and provides a means of helping folks in Africa and Asia. Through Nabuur’s website, an accountant in the US might donate services to a farmer in Ghana. Nabuur has folks in-country vetting projects.
With so many opportunities for donors/lenders already, it would take a really good idea — and super marketing — to bring another microlending system to prominence in the US.
I’m not sure that’s what my friend’s client had in mind.