Micro-funding is a big curiosity of mine. One of the biggest problems with most African nations is that their currencies are overvalued in order to buy grains on the open world market. This overvaluation of their currency makes it impossible for outside foreign direct investment, because there would be no monetary return on capital. No direct foreign investment means no increase in manufacturing or infrastructure development to start a services industry, which in turn keeps the general populace in either subsistence farming (which is fazed out due to lower market grain prices) or in abject poverty.
These micro-loans help bridge the gap between a lack of large foreign direct investment, and allowing individuals with entrepreneurial “spirit” pull themselves, their families, and often their communities out of abject poverty. And they’ve proven effective in various regions including Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and of course Africa.
Now the micro-loans/funds idea has branched out from more direct business startups to student loans (cost of school in poor places aren’t terribly high by Developed Countries standards), and now idea generation. Yay for innovation.
From PBS.org’s Idea Lab:
The citizen journalism and new media movements have made it increasingly possible for anyone to be heard in the media, first as sources and then as writers. But what if these interested and informed citizens became builders and innovators as well? The Awesome News Taskforce wants to empower anybody to create and test out community information and journalism projects of their own — $1,000 at a time.