Thursday, October 14, 2010

Microfinance: The Next Big Thing?

Image representing Kiva as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase
TechCrunch: Kiva President On The Next 5 Years And Why Zynga Is Their Biggest Rival (TCTV): a never-ending fight for eyeballs and discretionary income. .... If building a real farm on Kiva can be as compelling as building a virtual farm on Facebook ..... the integration of game mechanics, social tools, mobile and new philanthropic verticals like green and water loans ...... Kiva will raise $1 billion in microloans by 2015..... loans to US citizens ..... Kiva is currently raising $1 million every six days. .... Shah and co-founder Matthew Flannery ..... making sure that the feedback loop between the person that they’re trying to help is really strong and broad
What was after search? Social. What was after social? Social gaming. What's after social gaming? I'd love that next big thing to be microfinance. You should not have to wait for white guys like Bill Gates and Bill Clinton to retire before the next big problem in the Global South can be tackled. The problems in the Global South have to tackled with Kiva ferocity, with GroupOn ferocity. Crowd sourcing is where it is at.

Racism caused the Great Recession. There was all this surplus capital. And instead of pumping all that into global microfinance and global infrastructure projects for certain 10% annual returns, the wise guys on Wall Street pumped it into existing houses in America through nefarious schemes, and the whole
Image representing Zynga as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBaseeconomy collapsed. It was only a matter of time. They did not create wealth. They built a huge, big house of cards.

The beauty of crowd sourcing is there is no one person, or one committee responsible. Everyone is in. There is no center. Once the basic message is clear, there is a riot.

Microfinance needs to be packaged better. It has to be parceled out in to small chunks at both ends. It is not just about the small businessperson at the other end. It also has to be about the small investor at this end. People should be able to invest $100, or $1000 at a time, preferably $100. You walk in to a store like you might walk in to buy a lottery ticket, or you might step in for a Western Union money transfer. For $100 you also get to receive emails about the person at the other end who received the loan. You get emails from Kiva.

Kiva, I think, is in a trillion dollar industry. The biggest thing Kiva could do is morph from being a non profit organization to being a for profit company with IPO ambitions. That is the only way it could beat Zynga. Could it beat Zynga? I think it could. Sure thing. Make micro lending fun. I never spent a dime on Farmville. But I would love to put $100 into some farm in Uganda if the experience had Farmville like fun.
Groupon logo.Image via WikipediaOnly a for profit company could deliver that. You hire top talent by becoming a for profit company with IPO ambitions.

There is room for 100 Zynga size companies in this space.

Micro lending is not just for the Global South. It is also what needs to be pumped into the inner cities in America. The challenge for Kiva is to enrich the feedback loop.

Image representing Matthew Flannery as depicte...Image via CrunchBase
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Niraj Shah said...

Have you thought in detail if anything that can be done for Nepal similar to what kiva is doing . I have been thinking about this for a while and a platform like Kiva but somewhat customize towards Nepal and Nepalese community.
I tried to find an entrepreneur in Nepal in Kiva, but there wasn't anyone listed.

If you are interested, let me know, I can assemble a tech team to execute it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Niraj,

You may want to check out!