MicroPlace, a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay Inc. that provides an easy way for everyday people to invest in the world’s working poor by leveraging the power of microfinance attracted more than 1,000 new investments and nearly a half million dollars to the Calvert Social Investment Foundation (Calvert Foundation) between its launch on October 24, 2007 and the end of the last calendar year. These initial efforts have seeded a whole new online financing system that connects social investors with microfinance overseas, expected to grow to hundreds of millions of dollars over time.
In lauding the surge of new investment activity in just a few weeks, Calvert Foundation officials noted the crucial role played by $16 million in front-end investments provided to non-profit Calvert Foundation to defray start-up expenses and establish an essential risk-capital pool needed to protect retail investors. The fundraising included: $2.25 million from the Omidyar Network (initial grant support for operations, net assets and loan loss reserves); and $200,000 from Rockefeller Foundation (grant). Program Related Investments (PRIs) included $1.2 million DOEN Foundation (junior subdebt); $2 million from MacArthur Foundation (junior subdebt); and $10 million from OPIC (senior subdebt; scheduled to close this month).
With the launch of MicroPlace.com, for the first time, consumers in the U.S. can use the internet to make microfinance investments that simultaneously provide a financial return while addressing global poverty. Additionally, MicroPlace’s unique business model creates a self-sustaining marketplace that will serve as an efficient and scalable way for capital to flow into the microfinance industry. Through MicroPlace’s secure platform, everyday people can purchase investments â€“ for as little as $100 â€“ from microfinance security issuers. MicroPlace also enables investors to direct the impact of their investment to a specific country and microfinance institution in the developing world. The microfinance institutions use the funds to make small loans to the working poor, who in turn use the loans to start or expand small businesses and lift themselves out of poverty. Over time, this new model is expected to become an important capital source to meet the needs of billions of micro-entrepreneurs across the globe.
Originally posted on January 28, 2008 @ 3:05 pm