Microlending / Microcredit / Microfinance / Microinvesting...
November 14, 2006 11:21 AM   Subscribe

A few months ago, I read an article in a magazine about microlending/microcredit/microfinance/microinvesting/microsomething. The part that interested me the most was that the author chose to invest his money not in the stock market, but in people and their dreams.

I cannot find the article, and have searched Google, Yahoo, and Metafilter for info. While I've learned more, I cannot locate the specific article.

What I need help with is either (a) finding the article, or, (b) finding the website he uses to make these micro-loans. As I remember, it was like having an E-Trade account, and he listed about 20 different loans he made, and what the repayments looked like. Essentially, he would contribute, for example, $75 to a "customer's" $1000 request, and the customer would get the loan when enough people pledged to meet that person's request.

So, it was like the old Sally Struther's "Save The Children" ads, where you were (I think) actually supporting a person, and could see their progress and your direct impact on them.

Also, selfishly, in the article, the author stated that he was earning some amount of interest from these loans, and (I said, selfishly!) I do think there is some importance to that, even if it is only 1% interest. (I would rather help someone and earn 1%, than stick money in a bank and earn 4% or 5%.) So, it's not about donating, it's about investing and (hopefully) regaining your investment, plus, possibly, a small amount more.

(Disclosure: I am looking to make these investments, but may also write an article about it.)

Any help you can give would be most welcome!
posted by davidinmanhattan to Work & Money (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Kiva.com is the non-profit microlending p2p site

Prosper.com is the p2p microlending site for profit for people in the US
posted by JakeWalker at 11:28 AM on November 14, 2006

Best answer: Sorry -- kiva.org, not kiva.com
posted by JakeWalker at 11:29 AM on November 14, 2006

Grameen Bank possibly?

Here is an article on it from the CBC website as there is a conference about it going on in Halifax right now
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 11:29 AM on November 14, 2006

For what it's worth, there was a short blurb about this practice in the most recent Reader's Digest.
posted by owenkun at 11:32 AM on November 14, 2006

There was a New Yorker article on this recently.
posted by subtle-t at 11:32 AM on November 14, 2006

Best answer: Kevin Kelly is all over this. There's an extensive list of sites at the link.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:03 PM on November 14, 2006

The only place I remember seeing anything like this was a discussion of the afore-mentioned Kiva at I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Is that the article you're looking for?
posted by jdroth at 2:19 PM on November 14, 2006

Best answer: And, for completeness, zopa.com is the UK for-profit p2p lending site that will be opening a US version at some point.

I've been lending on Prosper since May-ish. Have 40 loans out, all but one person have been paying me back. The concept has had some growing pains, but in all, I'd say it's working.
posted by epugachev at 2:38 PM on November 14, 2006

Best answer: Also, much discussion can be found at the Prosper forums.
posted by epugachev at 2:40 PM on November 14, 2006

You could look up Muhammad Yunus or Grameen Bank -- they won the nobel prize for peace this year for basically being the pioneers of microfinance.
posted by echo0720 at 4:23 PM on November 14, 2006

the New Yorker article referenced by subtle-t, above, is quite extensive. I thought it was very good.
posted by judybxxx at 4:29 PM on November 14, 2006

The New Yorker article is definitely worth a read. This seems like a stretch but maybe is was Ripple?
posted by supertremendus at 4:44 PM on November 14, 2006

Response by poster: I just want to thank you ALL for your help. Great information, and I am truly grateful.

The site I was looking for is prosper.com, so, thanks especially to JakeWalker and epugachev!

If anyone is interested in sharing your experiences, I will be writing an article for my journalism class, and I would be thrilled to communicate with you further. My email is on my profile page.

posted by davidinmanhattan at 2:00 PM on November 15, 2006

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