Check out Wokai, a microfinance company

Microfinance is giving small loans to people in the developing world. For example, a loan for a sewing machine or a computer can help spawn an entire business. It’s a great way to help out entrepreneurs succeed in these areas. My friend Meghan Gill is working with Wokai, an organization that does this in China. Wokai is Chinese for “I start,” and is a nonprofit group committed to helping impoverished Chinese people help themselves.

If you’re interested, take a look at their materials below. They are having a launch party next Wednesday in New York – I’ll be there and you should come too! Information from Meghan below:

What is Wokai?

Wokai delivers an internet microfinance platform that allows individuals to provide Chinese microentrepreneurs with loan capital.  Our organization acts as an intermediary in this process, transferring funds from contributors abroad to microentrepreneurs in China through our field partners.

Who does Wokai support?

A typical Wokai microentrepeneur is a female rural inhabitant, living on less than $1/day.  Her microfinance loan, ranging from $150-$300 dollars, provides her with the capital to start a small business.  Her business varies by location, raising sheep in a rural grassland or operating a small fruit stand in a city center.

With her income, she accumulates savings, which allows her to allocate money towards long-term investments like education and health. By the end of her loan cycle, she has experienced increased financial independence, bolstered self-confidence, and a strengthened sense of community.

Learn more and contribute today at http://www.wokai.org.

While I wholeheartedly support microfinance efforts that are nonprofit in nature, I am wary of larger-scale, for-profit initiatives. When large organizations interface with impoverished to tap into the long tail of the lending market, there is tremendous potential for abuse. While I respect the view of some that greater globalization and more money in an economy is never a bad thing, I fear for globalization, and what happens when giant companies with immense resources see third-world countries only as more customers for their products. It’s so important to preserve long-term national interests and ensure that national entrepreneurship is allowed to compete with larger organizations. So great job, Wokai, for empowering the disempowered!

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