Ebay has launched a micro-credit business, MicroPlace. You can invest for a period of 3 years and receive a guaranteed 3% return and your money is used to make small loans to people around the world who are living in poverty. These loans help them start or grow businesses.
From the website:
MicroPlace’s mission is to help alleviate global poverty by enabling everyday people to make investments in the world’s working poor.
Our idea is simple.
Microfinance institutions around the world have discovered an effective way to help the world’s working poor lift themselves out of poverty. These organizations need capital to expand and reach more of the working poor. At the same time, millions of everyday people here in the United States are looking for ways to make investments that yield a financial return while making a positive impact on the world. MicroPlace simply connects investors with microfinance institutions looking for funds.
The result: more microfinance in the world, satisfied investors, and above all, fewer people living in poverty.
Today I put it to the test. For the past few years my sister and I have decided to forgo the presents and do something charitable in each other's names. Last year I tried Kiva, It's easy to buy gift certificates. Last year's donation was given as part of a loan to Valentina for her clothing business in the Ukraine. During the year, she paid it back. So then I lent the money to Juana and her textile business in Mexico. She has repaid 9% of the loan. The money you give to Kiva is non-refundable. But you can keep choosing new recipients as borrowers repay. There's a great personal aspect to Kiva. You can choose which individual recipient you want to help by reading through many bios and looking through many photos.
MicroPlace is slightly different. No personal stories or photos. But you can choose by country and fund for that country. I chose Cambodia, but I am planning a trip to Cambodia and Laos in the spring. Unlike Kiva, this is an investment that pays interest and after the initial investment period of 3 years the princiapal could be returned to you. The minimum investment to open an account is $100, additional investments have to be a minimum of $50. The signup is simple and you can fund via paypal or direct check. Click here to find out in more detail who it works.
Will Ebay bring microfinance by the masses to the masses? Let's hope so, because microfinance works, it changes people's lives forever and for the good. And, on a grand scale, it could change the world.
Check it or Kiva out for a great present for someone whom you have no idea what to get. And in so doing, you will be making a present of a lifetime!