September 21, 2005

Little CREAM

It's late, and I'm tired, but I wanted to get this out while it was still fresh in my mind:

So, the link above is about Micro-Credit, i.e. extending tiny loans to women in Third World countries to help them start basic businesses as a way to lift them out of poverty. When I say "basic businesses", I mean things like lending a woman in Bangladesh $50 so she can buy a cow, milk the cow, & sell the milk for profit. Or by a chicken and sell the eggs.

And, it seems to be working like gangbusters in some countries. The founder of the original MicroCredit bank is a good buddy of Bono's and he's been on Charlie Rose twice.

All very good.

And then I thought about Hurricane Katrina.

Or, more specifically, I thought about how the Hurricane revealed that large chunks of Black America live in conditions, by our standards, are closer to a third world country.

And, yet, the standing joke is how many credit cards and how much bad credit Black americans have.

So, the question in my mind is - if a woman in Bangladesh can borrow $50 and pay it back, plus profit, in a fairly short period of time, what are the barriers to replicating that success among the poor in the U.S.? What would be the urban American equivalent of buying a chicken and selling the eggs?

Bootleg t-shirts & videos?

What obvious opportunity are we overlooking?