D.I.Y. Venture Capitalists
Friday, September 22, 2006
Try connecting two people from opposite sides of the planet-one hoping for a small cash infusion, and one looking to do something productive with their disposable income. Chances are, good things will happen. At least that’s the premise of Kiva – a pioneer microfinance website that Matt and Jessica Flannery launched in 2005 – and so far it’s working.
The first website to link average income lenders to specific business people in developing countries, Kiva makes it possible for anyone with a few extra bucks to help an impoverished stranger jumpstart their career. Would-be investors log on to Kiva, scan through profiles of low-income entrepreneurs – say, a man who wants to open a shoe shop in Honduras or a goat farmer in Uganda – and shell out as little as $25, via PayPal, to the recipient of their choice. While some of the loans accrue interest, most are simply paid back over the next year. Whether it’s a loan or an investment, the money provided through Kiva is a vital influx of capital for fledgling businesses around the world.
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