Shara Senior

The Hoop Fund: Connecting BoP Producers with New Markets, Finance

This year, SOCAP10 conference attendees were introduced to an organization attempting to bring both finance and market access to BoP producers through a twist on a now familiar model: micro-lending. SoCap attendees were given a choice: take home a beautiful conference laptop bag made of recycled waste, or forfeit the bag and make a loan of $20 to one of the fair trade organizations selling products through a new platform called the Hoop.

The Hoop has been called the Kiva for fair trade, as it uses the basic platform of micro-lending from individuals to channel finance to emerging market cooperatives. However, according to the Hoop CEO Patrick Donohue, the Hoop’s point of differentiation is on the consumer experience it provides.

In addition to making a loan, people can purchase fair trade products from the cooperatives and organizations listed on the site, making their engagement as a lender much stronger as they literally enjoy the fruits of labor their loan enabled.

Companies such as Alter Eco, which had samples of their delicious chocolate available at the conference, and Indigenous, which produces clothing, join the Indonesia-based XS Project Foundation among other organizations available to lend to and purchase from on the site.

Before the end of day 2, the Hoop fulfilled a $2,500 loan to the XS Project Foundation as conference attendees either forfeited their bags, or accepted a bag and made a loan. The Hoop represents an exciting new model for connecting BoP producers to new markets, and we look forward to seeing how it evolves.

Base of the Pyramid, microfinance