OptInNow.org – Opportunity International’s New Kiva-Like Site

April 23, 2009 · Print This Article

Print This Article

This is something really cool.

I had coffee this evening at the HW55 Starbucks in Durham with Sam Serio from Opportunity International. Opportunity International is a Christian microfinance organization that’s been around since 1971.

Opportunity International has launched a site called OptInNow.org. OptinNow allows you to make small loans directly to entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Comparison to Kiva

OptInNow is similar to Kiva, with the exception that the loans made are contributions to Opportunity International and are re-loaned over and over again to entrepreneurs with microenterprises in developing countries instead of paid back directly to the lender. Another difference is that Opportunity International has a Christian affiliation whereas Kiva does not.

OptInNow.org is in the early stages, so the site does not yet have as extensive inventory of loans and projects as Kiva, but does allow loans to be made to entrepreneurs in Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines, and Mexico with many more to come soon.

Props to the folks at Opportunity International for creating a well-designed usable interactive site that will get a lot more visibility and unique donors for their organization.

Aid 2.0

As opposed to the old-school ‘top-down’ Easterly-criticized bi-lateral government-to-government aid model where funds were given to oft-unelected semi-corrupt dictators for cold-war geopolitical reasons that indebted the populace without providing much benefit to them while sometimes forcing the funds to be used to pay Western contractors (okay I’m being a bit harsh here but do read Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and Stiglitz’ Globalization and Its Discontents), OptInNow’s model is from the grassroots–from the bottom-up. It gives small amounts of funds that can make a world of good directly to the local entrepreneurs who know how to best use them. It’s market-based aid versus the top-down centrally controlled aid of the past.

Who Is It Run By?

Opportunity International is currently run by CEO Christopher Crane, an entrepreneur, YPO member, and Harvard MBA who took commercial real estate information provider COMPS InfoSystems to 450 employees and took it public in May 1999 before being acquired by CoStar (NASDAQ:CSGP) in February 2000. I haven’t met Christopher yet but look forward to meeting him soon.

Here’s a video about OptInNow. Spread the word!

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About Opportunity International

Opportunity International, the largest not-for-profit microfinance organization in the world. OI began in 1971 and specializes in working with the poorest of the working poor, those who make less than $2 a day. OI has 1.2 million active loan clients in 28 countries and 85% of their clients are women. Here are some key facts.

Opportunity International 2007 Highlights
Current loan clients worldwide:
1,121,786
Value of current loan portfolio worldwide:
$500,891,820
Number of loans made in 2007:
1,772,139
Value of loans made in 2007:
$702,278,911
Average loan size:
$227 (excluding Eastern Europe)
Average first Trust Group loan:
$162 (excluding Eastern Europe)
Loans to women:
84.13%
Loan repayment rate:
98.5%
Source: http://videos.opportunity.org/website/media-center/Opportunity_International_Fact_Sheet.pdf

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About OptInNow
Our mission is simple. We’re working to end global poverty. Faster. How? By providing those who live in chronic poverty with one vital thing they need to transform their lives: Opportunity. Along the way we hope to transform additional lives, like yours. That’s why we’ve made it so simple for good people everywhere to come together, to fund small loans, to witness big and lasting impact, and to truly change the world. That’s what we’re really about. We’re about every land becoming a land of opportunity. And with your help we’ll get there.

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