Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Written by Chad
Today Siaka took the first step in his ascent to becoming the business tycoon he's destined to be. He took a microloan through an online microcredit institution called Zidisha. And it's all thanks to his own persistence as well as the awesome legwork and string-pulling of friends (previous volunteer Amanda and her family, former assistant PC director Dan Rooney, and James and Julie alongside their entrepreneur friend also named Siaka).
On the Zidisha website, Siaka made a profile and within a few days, generous donors from all over the world chipped in. Before he knew it, the money was wired to the Banfora Ecobank: a thousand bucks for a gas-powered cassava grinder and some sifters. On a first-come, first-donate basis, a group of philanthropists (most of whom had never met Siaka before) pitched in their pennies, which he'll pay back each month as he builds his empire. Today, Siaka has the honor of being the second Zidisha loan in the country and has further invested in solar panels so that his village women employees can work into the night. Here's a look at the online system that made his loan possible:
Microcredit has been around since the seventies but has only recently caught on in the US thanks to the internet. If you've ever watched Hulu as I have, you've probably also ignored ads for Kiva, one of the most popular of these microloan sites. These are connected times we live in, and I wholeheartedly believe that microloans are one of the best ways for us middle-class Americans to lessen the poverty of people in the developing world. It's a system with built-in accountability that is statistically more often than not a win-win. It motivates success-oriented people to think critically and work hard, patterns of success that cascade to others around them. Yada yada, world peace, yada yada... Anyway, I'll see myself down from this soapbox, but take a look first at these photos and film of the glorious arrival of Siaka's new cassava grinder. Watch him in his silly hat unload it from the bush taxi, haul it over, cut the ribbon, and grind some inaugural cassava.
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