On November 1st, UN, Google and Cisco unveiled the MDG Monitor www.mdgmonitor.org , an innovative site to track the progress towards decreasing global poverty by 2015, a global campaign known as the Millenium Development Goals, or MDGs. From their press release;
...a Web surfer can use Google Earth to fly anywhere on the planet and explore from above, in three dimensions, the places where work is being done to realize the MDGs. With a few simple clicks, user can access country assessments and data collected by the UN worldwide...By laying out areas of progress and continuing challenge for the world to see, MDG Monitor aspires to keep the global community's eyes firmly fixed on the Millenium Goals and to provide vital information for policy makers and development practitioners worldwide.
It is a very cool site. A great example of innovative partnerships leveraging their expertise and creating huge impact.
On October 24th, MicroPlace launched its web site that allows people to invest as little as $100 in microfinance. More precisely, people can purchase investment notes with returns ranging from 1.5 to 3.0% that are issued to a particular microfinance institution. This is great news as this provides another option for people to participate in supporting microentrepreneurs worldwide. So now in addition to Kiva which allows people to support microentrepreneurs with a loan (you get capital back but no interest) you have MicroPlace where you can make money from these loans "doing good, doing well". This news has been covered by Businessweek, Reuters, Fortune etc but the best article out is by Rob Katz of nextbillion titled "Kiva vs. MicroPlace-What is the difference?" an excellent read. Kudos for Calvert Foundation, which is the first issuer for MicroPlace. Calvert has been offering for the past 10 years community investment notes including those that went to fund microfinance institutions and these notes were offered to the public at large. One of the very few choices that have existed but now their efforts can be inmensely scaled!
One request to MicroPlace/ebay and to the microfinance investment community. Kiva is a non-profit so everyone can participate but investments in MicroPlace is only available for US investors (US residents). I am aware of the constraints in the investment world but can we/someone make a platform or several platforms for investments so that everyone can invest?