The Anonymous Widower

Crowd Funding For Research

I sometimes get involved in helping research projects at Liverpool University and I will also lob small amounts of funding towards projects I think are worthwhile.

I also look into innovative ways of raising funding for individuals and businesses, like Zopa and Funding Circle. I also loan money to the Developing World using Kiva.

So can their methods be used to raise funding for research projects.

Let’s take a researcher interested in how patients manage with the gluten-free diet, they need for coeliac disease. They perhaps want to interview as many patients as possible and produce a report that highlights both the problems and the successes, possibly on a regional basis.

So they have two needs.

A small amount of money is probably required, the size of which would depend on the size and scape of the project.

The second thing, that many projects, like the mythical one I outlined, often need subjects for the research.

Surely, a properly designed system could do both.

Similar things have been done under the general heading of crowd funding. There’s more here on Wikipedia.

How would such a system work? I would steal some of the methodology from sites like Zopa and Kiva.

The on-line system would be uploaded with suitable research projects, which borrowing from Zopa’s methods, would be checked as to the veracity of the researcher.

Prospective funders and participants would join and then search for projects, they might like to support, just like you search for suitable borrowers on Kiva.

Obviously, you could also rate researchers, just as you rate buyers and sellers on eBay.

There are some obvious winners, if this could be made to work!

I know from those in Universities, I’ve talked with, that getting funding for small projects is difficult and a lot of time and money is wasted.

Are there going to be any losers? Not directly, but I suspect some charities and their inefficient structures might be by-passed.

I will probably not develop the system, but someone will! On the other hand, if anybody wants to, I’ll be happy to advise.


February 7, 2013 Posted by | Finance, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

My Progress With Kiva

I wrote about Kiva, the on-line micro-finance site in this post.

I invested a few hundred dollars to see how the site works.

I’ve now started getting repayments from the loans.  This is not surprising in my view, as I used to know someone who organised micro-finance in Malawi and he said repayments were usually made.

So now all the money I’ve had returned has been lent out to others. So my original charity donation has been lent to two different people.

A nice feature of Kiva, is that you can search for people with whom you might have something in common.

I often search for widows, as I know a bit about the loneliness of the predicament. Interestingly, Kiva generally lists both sexes as widows and doesn’t seem to use widower. I think that is good.

One thing about Kiva is that if I recruit a new lender, I get a $25 bonus to lend. This is how they spread the word, but the positive result is more money is lent to the undeveloped world.

November 18, 2012 Posted by | Finance, World | , | Leave a comment

Disruptive Innovation

I’ve not heard the term before, but read this article.  It starts with this question and answer.

Question: what do these companies have in common?

Skype, Spotify, Marks and Spencer, Whipcar, Zopa, Zilok, Kiva, Patagonia, Kickstarter, Café Direct, Taskrabbit, Buzzcar and InterfaceFLOR.

Two of my favourite innovators; Zopa and Kiva are mentioned in the same breath as quite a few companies like, Skype, Spotify and M&S.

If the article has a fault, it’s that it misses out a couple of well known names, who the writer would call disruptive innovators.

I would have thought ARM Holdings and Dyson should be on the list. And I would think that a certain company called Metier Management Systems was one of the first! So we were only a shark in a small pond, but we completely rebuilt the pond.

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Business, Computing, Finance | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kiva – On-Line Microfinance

Kiva is almost a cross between peer-to-peer lending and micro-finance.

You choose an entrepreneur with a business in some faraway country, who needs some finance to either start or expand their business.  The business might be a recycling business in Pakistan or a cafe in Vietnam, but the list is endless.  You then contribute something like $25 to the loan they require.

The About page on their web site tells you more. I just signed up and then lent $25 through my PayPal account to a pharmacy in the Congo to buy more drugs. Of the pukka sort that is! It was a very simple process, where you just sign in and then start lending in chunks of $25 to those borrowers you choose from a map of the world.  I have since made a loan to a woman starting a restaurant in Ecuador.  I chose Ecuador, as I have experience of the country, so know a bit about the way they work.

So far they claim they have lent over $337 million dollars and they have a near 99% repayment rate.

I regard any money, I give to Kiva as a donation to charity.  If I get any money back, then that is a bonus. If I get all my money back with interest, then that’s an investment.

I think the big disadvantage of Kiva is that it appears you have to pay by PayPal or a credit card, whereas Zopa or funding Circle can be fed using a direct bank transfer.

Perhaps if you’ve had a clear-out and got rid of unwanted clutter through eBay, Kiva is a good way to spend your PayPal funds creatively.

Remember too, that most of our charity donations are either made by cash or credit card, often through something like JustGiving. A lot of these will be increased by Gift Aid.

August 12, 2012 Posted by | Finance, World | , | 1 Comment