In microfinance, crowd-sourced ventures have aimed at connecting first world capital with developing world opportunity – and with some success.
Mads Kjaer and Tim Vang co-founded MYC4 which works to connect online investors with entrepreneurs in Africa. MYC4 was founded using a Dutch auction method for retailing loans to small and mid-sized businesses in developing countries – a crowd-sourced for-profit micro finance company with an initial presence in Africa.
Since they started five years back, over $20M has been invested in over 10,000 loans. These funds have come from over 19,000 investors/lenders. The biggest challenge facing MYC4 at the moment is lack of adequate liquidity to fund all the loan requests. This year alone, over $1M worth of loan requests has not funded. At the moment, MYC4 requires an increase of investors/lenders with a short term year end funding gap of $1M in new liquidity to fund growth.
Says Mads, “Africa is no longer a basket case but a business case. For decades, highly subsidized credit and grants have not helped African businesses grow but has often created a dependency syndrome.
“What we are learning now is that small businesses that are looking for capital to grow can pay market rates of interest. Their major concern is reliable and continuous access to rightly priced capital. Through the Dutch Action on MYC4, businesses have an upside of receiving cheaper funds than they were initially willing and able to pay. We have seen to type of investors/lenders; social and for profit and the Dutch auction accommodates both.
“The on-going transformation in microfinance means grants and subsidies are a thing of the past and commercial sources of funding will continue to be the major source of funding.”