(Posting a copy of my second newsletter)
I'm emailing on a foggy Tuesday to give you another update on my voyage into social entrepreneurship. It's been another whirlwind month here at Stanford. I've spent most of my time working on prototypes and networking, and I hope to have some exciting partnerships to announce next month!
In the meanwhile, since my project is based on cameraphones, I've used my trusty N90 and a few other digital cameras to start a video blog; just to get in the habit of filming and editing and to share some of my experience here. I'm just getting started with video, so please forgive any rough spots. So far, I've interviewed Ken Banks (one of our fellows) about his work in primate conservation, and Tracy from SAP Labs, who hosted us for an excellent session about Alliances and Partnerships.
In social entrepreneurship at large, this has been an exciting month for microfinance. Microfinance is based on lending small amounts of money to the poor. Given that 1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar per day, a loan of even $50 or $100 can make a huge difference in enabling someone to start or grow a small business, for example.
The biggest news is that Muhammad Yunus, one of the early pioneers in microfinance, was the 2006 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. This is a spectacular achievement, and shows how a small thing can make a huge difference.
On a smaller scale, I've also become an international financier! I've loaned a small amount to a tiny videogame shop in Mexico to buy stock for increased Christmas sales and also to an electronics repairman in Ecuador to expand his business, both through Kiva.org. The founders spoke at Stanford last week about how they created a website that connects lenders directly to borrowers through the web, so I had to try it myself.
Thanks so much for all of your supportive emails and calls about this fellowship. I've gotten an amazing response to my first newsletter, and I wanted to say that everyone's help and support really makes this possible. Please feel free to forward this, and email me if you have any questions or suggestions about my project.
John Afsal Kuner
Video blog: http://projectview.blogspot.com
Microfinance Article (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microfinance
Frontline segment about Kiva: http://tinyurl.com/yjo27j
My Kiva.org profile: http://www.kiva.org/lender/john9419
Muhammad Yunus interview on the Charlie Rose show: