The GOOD 100: Microfinance Comes to America
America is waking up to the power of "micro." Twitter introduced us to microblogs. President Obama's campaign demonstrated the collective force of microdonors. And then there's microlending-using loans as small as $20 to lift would-be entrepreneurs out of poverty. It has been around in the United States for decades, but never really taken off. Now might be the time. After the rousing overseas success of microlenders like the Grameen Bank and Kiva, several giants of international microfinance are bringing their tested business models and global brands to help the 37 million Americans impoverished in the land of opportunity. Here are some of the key players using this staple of the international fight against poverty to build the American promise.
The biggest and most established network of antipoverty microlenders in the USA, Accion USA affiliates are responsible for more than two-thirds of the $300 million in domestic microlending done in the past 20 years.
The first of the Grameen-style microlenders in the United States, Project Enterprise proved that Grameen's group-lending model could work with the urban poor of New York City, and with clientele of mostly women and people of color.
The American division of the Grameen Bank is shooting for scale, already reaching 1,000 borrowers with more than $2 million in loans. It also lends its Nobel Prize–winning brand to the industry, garnering new press and interest from funders.
Its elegant online platform lets you lend to the exact project you want, connecting microentrepreneurs with a new funding source: the general public. Kiva doesn't make the loans itself, but funnels the money to two U.S. partners, including Accion USA.
Not quite microlending, this creative twist on Kiva lets web surfers donate as little as a dollar to creative ventures. Projects tend toward the quirky rather than the profitable (building a 16-foot theremin; sailing around the world). Expect a postcard, not repayment, with this one.
Guess Which Wealthy Country Can't Guarantee Access to a Basic Human Need? This week, Detroit's neediest had their water turned off. Here's what you can do about it.
If More Couples Smoked Weed, Would There Be Less Domestic Violence? Spouses who smoke weed are less likely to inflict physical, sexual, or psychological harm on their significant other.
Better Living Through Science: Women in STEM A look at pioneering women in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
How You Type Says a Ton About Your Emotional State This new computer program can see right through your poker face.
Let’s Do More. A Call-to Action by Gap CMO Seth Farbman Data shows that 24% of the 21 million Americans making minimum wage are working in retail, and 64% of those are women.
Meet the Self-Proclaimed President of Colombia’s Hottest Music Trend Champeta started as an outsider Afro-Colombian folk movement. Now it's taking over the country.
Cryptocurrency Regains its Reputation in Paradise Can a renowned tourist hub in Bali become a bitcoin wonderland?
Can a Miracle Fruit Overcome its Unsavory Reputation? Conservationists, farmers, and nutritionists are singing the praises of the breadfruit. If only it didn't taste so bad.
New App Could Tackle Hunger, Will Help You Find a Good Deal PareUp wants to connect food purveyors to thrifty consumers looking to score deals on unused, but still edible, items.
My Postpartum Blues Don’t Mean I’ve Failed at Motherhood Want to help mothers dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety? Try listening, not judging.
Meet the Filmmaker Who Infiltrated the Underbelly of Commercial Oil Development Rachel Boynton's film follows the quest to drill for oil off the coast of West Africa, and Ghana's attempt to protect its people.
One Stitch Closer: Brittany Created Her Own Solution Brittany Wegner’s personal quest to conquer cancer with technology 22 year-old technology savant Brittany Wenger’s innovation that changed the way we diagnose cancer