Microfinance in the developing world – correspondent

I received this letter and info from some folks in the US. I’m so flattered by the opening line that I print the stuff in full. Looks like a ‘Zopa’ lending initiative for individuals who have a few bob that they want to put to a good cause and get a return. Win-win.

Hello Charlie,

As an avid reader of your blog, and a big fan of the humorous and insightful observations presented in the entrepreneurship section, I wanted to write to you about a relevant story emerging from the micro credit world.  MicroCredit Enterprises, in conjunction with MicroPlace, has been able to raise an impressive amount of capital for fledgling business in developing nations, while securing generous yields on lender’s investments.  The case study suggests that small triumphs are still possible in this gloomy economic climate, and that the entrepreneurial spirit endures despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. 

As the economy continues to struggle, traditional investments are yielding little or negative returns, making MicroPlace, a website that enables people to invest in the world’s working poor, an intriguing option.

MicroPlace has launched a new investment opportunity through MicroCredit Enterprises, a nonprofit organization committed to reducing poverty by providing small loans to the working poor around the world. An investment of as little as $20 with MicroCredit Enterprises yields a 5% return, allowing people to help eliminate poverty without compromising financial goals.

MicroCredit Enterprises previously relied heavily on high net-worth individuals to provide $1 million guarantees. The addition of the MicroPlace investment option opens the door for anyone to contribute.

Below is the press release. Please feel free to contact me for additional details or to arrange an interview with Jonathan Lewis, CEO of MicroCredit Enterprises.



MicroPlace Launches First Microfinance Investment Yielding 5 Percent for Everyday Investors

People can help the working poor out of poverty with a healthy investment as low as $20.

San Jose, Calif., February 17, 2009 — MicroPlace (www.microplace.com), a website that enables everyday people to invest in the world’s working poor, announced today the launch of a new investment opportunity that offers a 5 percent return, a first in the microfinance investment industry for everyday investors.

Through MicroPlace (www.microplace.com), anyone can make microfinance investments that lift people from poverty and offer a 5 percent rate of return. Investors don’t have to compromise their financial goals to help people escape poverty. By visiting MicroPlace, people can invest as little as $20 and have the opportunity to earn 5 percent interest. With money market funds currently offering an average of 1 percent1 and the stock market yielding negative returns over the past year, MicroPlace investments offer a healthier return while simultaneously making a positive impact in the world.

“This is about enabling individuals to address social problems and make a difference through investing instead of philanthropy. In our current economic environment, this is important because people can put their money to work while doing good,” said Ashwini Narayanan, general manager of MicroPlace. “Unlike a donation, investment funds are available at maturity, multiplying the impact they can make.”

The 5 percent investment opportunity listed on MicroPlace is offered by MicroCredit Enterprises (www.mcenterprises.org), a nonprofit organization committed to reducing poverty by providing small loans to the working poor around the world. MicroCredit Enterprises currently finances microloans in 15 nations on four continents. Women are the recipient of 89 percent of its microloans.

“Investors with MicroCredit Enterprises and MicroPlace realize the greatest return in the world is the chance to lift a person out of poverty,” said Jonathan C. Lewis, founder and chief executive officer of MicroCredit Enterprises. “Earning a fair financial return is a bonus.”

Microfinance has been recognized worldwide as a simple but powerful tool that enables the poor to pull themselves out of poverty. Most commonly, it involves making small loans – as little as $20 – to the working poor in developing countries. The loans are used to establish or expand small businesses that generate additional income for the family, enabling them to buy food, access healthcare, educate their children, put aside savings and lay the foundation for a better future.

According to The World Bank2, 1.2 billion people subsist on less than $1 per day. MicroPlace is committed to charting a whole new course to end poverty for these individuals. Around the world, more than 130 million3 hardworking impoverished entrepreneurs have benefited from microfinance while nearly 1 billion could benefit if given the opportunity. Every investment through MicroPlace takes a step toward meeting that need.
About MicroPlace
MicroPlace (www.microplace.com), launched in 2007, is a website that enables everyday people to invest in the world’s working poor. As an online investment marketplace whose mission it is to alleviate global poverty, MicroPlace is paving the way to enable a billion people to lift themselves out of poverty. MicroPlace is a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY).

About eBay Inc.
Founded in 1995, eBay Inc. connects hundreds of millions of people around the world every day, empowering them to explore new opportunities and innovate together. eBay Inc. does this by providing the Internet platforms of choice for global commerce, payments and communications. Since its inception, eBay Inc. has expanded to include some of the strongest brands in the world, including eBay, PayPal, Skype, StubHub, Shopping.com and others. eBay Inc. is headquartered in San Jose, California.

About MicroCredit Enterprises
Established in 2005, MicroCredit Enterprises is a pioneering private sector, anti-poverty program that leverages the private capital of high net worth individuals to provide small business loans to impoverished entrepreneurs in developing countries who live on $1 per day or less. MicroCredit Enterprises is backed by a growing network of Guarantors with a current total of $37 million in pledged assets. To date, MicroCredit Enterprises has funded 101,000 micro-entrepreneurs across 15 countries on four continents.


Laura Noss
Social Planets on behalf of MicroPlace

Jessica Scadron
Social Planets on behalf of MicroPlace
1Represents Bankrate.com’s average 7-day effective yield for taxable money market mutual funds as of 2/9/09. A money market mutual fund invests in short-term debt instruments such as Treasury bills, commercial paper, and large CD’s and provides daily liquidity to the investor.


3Microcredit Summit Campaign

Annie Millican
Junior Associate – DMD

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