eBay in the Microfinance business.

MicroPlace.comA friend recently sent me an article in BusinessWeek about eBay’s Microfinance engine. The article, EBay: The Place for Microfinance, speaks of eBay’s 2006 acquisition of MicroPlace.com.

MicroPlace.com’s mission is “to help alleviate global poverty by enabling everyday people to make investments in the world’s working poor.” Pretty impressive.

Pierre Omidyar, eBay’s founder, is also an investor in Kiva.org, which is a similar site for investing small amounts of money to entrepreneurs in developing countries.

MicroPlace.com fits eBay’s direction so nicely, and takes advantage of their infrastructure to do good in the world. Nice to see big players enabling Microfinance and bringing it to the masses. That’s doing well by doing good.

$1,000 still gets attention.

On August 28th, I blogged about the ChangeSomething contest now running on ChangeEverything.ca. At the time, we had very little uptake on the contest, and I even wondered if this was going to be the first unsuccessful initiative we’d had on the site

Now that the contest has closed, I thought I’d chime in with an update. In the end, we had 18 contest finalists all submitted by members of the online community. Some of the entries generated excellent discussion.

Voting began on Friday, September 21, and now just 3 days later, the poll has 753 votes. Normally a poll on ChangeEverything.ca gets between 20 and 100 votes after a week or two. This is extraordinary. The winning entry takes the $1,000, so get voting.

Major kudos to Kate, the site’s moderator who helped keep this top of mind and build momentum, even when there appeared to be none. I’m looking forward to seeing which cause the community wants to give $1,000 to.

Why I "do" credit unions.

Two seemingly unrelated things came together for me this week. One is that yesterday was my second anniversary of being at Vancity and my entry into the credit union movement. The other is reuniting with some of my favourite past colleagues via Facebook and catching up on where we’re all at.

Explaining to people I used to work with in Los Angeles and Seattle why I’m working at a ‘bank’, which is a far cry from the brands I used to work on like Disney and Honda is not always an easy task. I left LA to find a lifestyle that was more aligned with my values, and that path inadvertently led me to credit unions.

Before Vancity, I worked at Telus, one of Canada’s top telecommunications companies, and the main telephone provider in BC. I enjoyed working there until the strike in 2005, but I never thought of myself as part of the telecom industry. It was just a job.

But being at Vancity, I have found myself attracted to the philosophy and work of credit unions. If you want to create social change, much of that has to do with money, and that’s where getting to the money via the banking industry is actually pretty exciting.

The link between my own engagement in the credit union movement became clearer when I saw a recent post on the always insightful OpenSourceCU. They were recently honoured as the first recipient of the Credit Union Global Spirit Award for translating philosophy into actions. This is a much-deserved accolade, based on their work helping credit unions reach their potential and engage the communities they serve in their mission.

It was awarded by Carol Schillios, whom I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting, but about whom I’ve heard so many amazing things.

The video on their page is the pivot point, the reason so many of us are passionate about credit unions. It is about the amazing work that Carol Schillios has done on behalf of credit unions with the world’s poorest people.

I have included it below. Powerful, powerful stuff.