Online Loans Help the World’s Poor

Thursday, March 2, 2006

The internet is revolutionising how donors and lenders in the US are connecting with small entrepreneurs in developing countries, be they a farmer in Kenya who wants to invest in new cows or a seamstress in India who wants to open her own shop.

Global Giving just enables small-scale grassroots projects to match up with relatively small donors all around the world, who want to help them make a difference,” said Mr Whittle.

“The website is kind of like a combination of eBay and Amazon. And the idea is that qualified grassroots projects from around the world can be listed, as long as they meet certain qualifications.

“If you’re a donor, and you’re interested in HIV/Aids, you can find projects to fund. If you’re interested in projects in Kenya, you can find those. It’s a clearing house.”

A potential donor searches through a list of small-scale projects on the Global Giving website. You can even e-mail project leaders for more information.

Then, the donor can choose to give as little as $10 to a project. Some, though, have given as much as $150,000.

Needy projects

Global Giving is not the only website tapping into internet’s power to directly connect would-be funders with would-be entrepreneurs.

Another site is called Kiva, the brainchild of a husband and wife team from California.

Kiva’s story starts a little more than two years ago, when Jessica Flannery went to East Africa. She was working for a group that gives $100 grants to needy projects.

“Every single day, I would meet an entrepreneur, and hear about how $100 had changed not just his or her life, but also the lives of their families, friends and other community members,” said Ms Flannery.

“Take a goat herder in Uganda. If you give him $25, that’s two smaller goats. That’s a great start. With $100, you can imagine more goats, perhaps a small shelter, stock up on goat feed. So, that little bit of money can really help set someone up.”

Continue reading “Online Loans Help the World’s Poor

Source: BBC News Technology Edition (link opens in a new window)