Monday, November 01, 2010

The Microfinance Fishing Net

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”
Microfinance is magic. It is the ultimate fishing net. Poverty is artificial. Microfinance proves that.

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The word computer meant one thing in the 1970s, something else in the 1980s. Today to many people the word computer probably reminds them of their smartphones that they are near permanently tethered to.

The term microfinance is not stagnant. If Muhammad Yunus is the father of the concept of non profit microfinance, if Kiva is the pioneer in merging that non profit microfinance concept to web technology, Vinod Khosla in several ways is the father of the concept of for profit microfinance. His message rings bells for me.

I feel like if the idea is to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty fast then for profit, high tech microfinance has the best shot of all available options. That right there is a trillion dollar industry, or rather a zero trillion dollar industry, to use Vinod Khosla's lingo. There is immense room for growth, there is immense room to do good.

There is sloganeering, and posturing, and pamphleteering, and conducting studies, and issuing press releases, and holding conferences and marches, and there is the actual work of lifting people out of poverty. Measurable in terms of how many people you manage to reach out to, how fast, to what extent. There is the actual work. I am interested in the work, although there is a time and place for all those other activities as well. Good intentions are legit, but ultimately it is about having impact. The for profit route speaks to me. The tech route speaks to me.

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