25 October 2007


Jimmyjangles draws my attention to a newspaper article about Microplace (launched by eBay) which will allow:
ordinary investors to buy securities aimed at improving conditions in the world's poorest countries. MicroPlace, located at http://www.microplace.com/, will allow people to invest as little as $100 to support development in impoverished areas.
Microfinance is the supply of loans, savings, insurance and other basic financial services to low-income households and businesses, typically without collateral.
Microfinance is at work in more than 100 countries, and is generally provided by financial institutions or wealthier investors. It gained wider renown last October when Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered it in 1976, and the Grameen Bank he founded won the Nobel Peace Prize."Capital markets are just waking up to this asset class," Tracey Pettengill Turner, the founder and general manager of MicroPlace, said."This is different because it is the first Web-based service for the everyday investor to invest in microfinance, and earn an investment return while addressing global poverty."
I like this idea. Once people invest capital in a region, then they take a wider interest in it. Political reform, improved governance, and development meaningful to ordinary people: all these are more likely to follow if there are outsiders concerned about how their investment is doing. This sort of development, arising from the bottom up, is infinitely better than the alternative.

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