Friday, June 29, 2007

Making money while doing good....

...or at least ok.

Micro credits. Unlike what some seem to think, this has nothing to do with giving small loans to student friends. Nor with giving credit to small people.

It means making loans available for people who can not lend from regular banks, but who need loans more than most other people in the world: the most underprivileged, the poorest. Or better- the one but poorest and the but nut most underprivileged.

I am working for a firm that sets up banks in 7 countries in the developing world- that is the pc name for what we used to call the third world...

We are working as any company would- we want to make money. We do that by selling those banks in a few years time with a profit. Those banks only make a profit, if we make sure that we get our loans back. And we only get our loans back, if we make sure that our clients are successful. So the banks we are setting up will do a lot of due diligence with our customers before we give them a loan, will give them technical support after the loan is given, and will make it easy for them to come back to the bank once they have paid back the loan. The banks will not give loans to the absolute 'have-nots', but to the 'have-just-a-little-bits'. Those people are more likely to pay their loans back, and thay can enlarge the scale they are working in and thereby employ other people. Hence the loan will affect hopefully many more people than just those who are getting the loan...

Some people say it is unethical what we are doing. We make money at the expense of the poor. Yes, we make money. But not on the expense of others. We give people an opportunity to borrow money- an opportunity normal banks do not give them. And we treat them like we treat other our customers in the 'developped world' as well- as smart individuals, who want to make a business, and who are not waiting to be patronized.

'Cause we are not doing development aid- we are taking our clients seriously, and we are taking ourselves seriously. And you can only do that by taking loans seriously. Not by making them a de facto gift, and thereby making people depending....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Travel for a lifetime

"You could travel for a lifetime,
and still stay where you are"

This sentence is the first sentence of the song "Under the surface" by one of my favorite Dutch bands
Bettie Serveert.

While jogging around Nijmegen yesterday, this song came in my head.

I was running over an asphalt road. At the end of this road there was a junction, where I needed to turn left. Between the 'legs' of this junction was only mud and some unmowed grass. A hundred meters from this junction suddenly I saw a dog coming up to me, from the right hand side. I am not a fan of dogs, and particularly not of big dogs. This was a big dog.
The dog came straight at me. Instead of taking the shortcut over the mud and the unmowed unmowed grass, I decided to face danger and jog on, passed the dog, over the asphalt. The dog worried me less than the fact that the terrain between the two 'legs' could ne mined.

It was only once I turned left, and the dog was out of sight already, that i realized that there is no such thing in Holland as minefields.

I have left Sarajevo almost two months ago, but I still stay where I was, in some ways....

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Level playing field

The other day I read in the newspaper that having a blog adds to stress. There are a lot of things that add to my level of stress, but blogging ain't one of them. Apparently however, some people feel the pressure to write every day about their lives, because they fear that if they stop doing this, they wil lose their avid readers. That's a thought.

However, with me it is just the other way around: I am afraid that I wil lose my readers when I write every day. Because what is there to tell about ones life everyday, while still being netrtaining? Can't think of anything.


As I wrote in previous blog, I started working five days after I came back from Sarajevo. Since my job was quite new to me, I did not write about it yet.
And I still won't. At least not about the content of it. Before I do write about it, I think it is wise to first focus your attention not on my work, but on the field of work. Micro Finance and Private Equity Funds. Once you understand this, I can explain what I am doing. I am creating level playing field here. Just like in my work...