Monday, May 25, 2009

Mashing up Micro-Credit, Economic Crisis, Social Media and everything in between – Part 2

In my previous post I tried to position micro-finance/ micro-credit as an alternative to traditional stocks, bonds and mutual funds. So far the feedback has been very positive from Drew, Charles, Kyle. As I explore the subject, I am becoming more convinced that Green Money, Social Capital and Social Investment will emerge as new frontiers and it will happen faster than everybody thinks. Mirco-finance and social media will join hands to create a greater movement within the finance and banking segment. We don’t need to wait for the economic crisis to recover. There are high chances of smaller P2P Micro-credit services being bought over by bigger banks. Maybe most micro-finance institutions will give up their NGO status to become mainstream and integrated within the banking system. For that matter, banking regulation for micro-finance will become more structured and move away from the flat interest rate, the norm today.

We are already seeing a lot of integration between green economy, green business, fair trade, micro-entrepreneurs, micro-loans, tactical philanthropy etc. taking place. Though bigger banks will still have greater control but smaller and nimbler MFI’s will be in a better position to gather millions of customers in a short time. These customers may not be the most potential banking clients but large numbers do have their own merits. This is where social network and social media will start playing a larger role. Social organization or ventures backed with social capital from social investors will emerge as a new way of doing business. Shareholders will look for better Return on Involvement instead of greater return on investment.

I was not shocked when I read this article today. “If we do no take measures, there is a risk of a serious human and social crisis with very serious political implications,” Robert Zoellick said. The World Bank’s warning of human catastrophe in the world’s poorest countries and an extra 53 million people at risk of extreme poverty is a good indicator of days to come. Now, I don’t want to sound like a doomsayer but things are worse. 53 million people in less than a year??

Wonder, what measures they can take unless they are ready to change their attitude and outlook about the fundamental principles of banking. And isn’t that fundamental principle of banking somewhere rooted in to the ‘social-wellness’ of economic prosperity?

Change is difficult, especially when it is from Social-Illness to Social Wellness. In Freakonomics, Steven Levitt mentioned that economists love incentives. Isn’t ‘Social-wellness’ a bigger incentive for bankers given that they almost drove 53 million people to extreme poverty? What better incentive can be other than instilling confidence and gaining loyalty of these very same people? Loyalty can be regained if these very people pushed at the edge of poverty had the opportunity to build something meaningful, with the assistance of other ‘good doers’ and financial support. In this case micro-financial support. The incentive for micro-finance is not to make huge profits but make the world a better place. And maybe its time for the banks to realize the mess they have created and get their acts together before a full blown ‘human catastrophe’ takes place. If the banks don’t get their acts together, people will take up the cause, they have already done it before but this time they will do it with gutso and what a shame for big multinational banks that will be.

Disruption thrives on chaos and we are living at a very chaotic time. People all over the world are getting into this act of doing good. Like I mentioned earlier, only micro-finance institutes along with social media (whatever you want to call it…) has the power to bring 5 billion people together at any given time to change the world of banking. Someone will surely take that leap very soon and disrupt the banking category like never before...

Coming up next week, interview with the two young Directors of Veecus, Mr. Clemént Carjat and Baptiste Fabre who has the potential to disrupt the status quo.

Do let me know what you think. Please do share your thoughts. I know I am everywhere but thats what I mentioned in the first place - 'and everything in between.'