Crowdfunding began as a way to fund personal projects. A new generation of social entrepreneurs takes it to the next level.
When college friends Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley decided to launch an experimental website to raise funds for small-scale entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, they had no idea of the revolution they would start. Launched in 2003, Kiva.org enabled visitors to see profiles of individual business entrepreneurs (like women basket weavers or smallholder farmers) and give them an interest-free ‘micro-loan’ for as little as $25. Bring together enough like-minded funders, and suddenly you have meaningful amounts of money flowing to business entrepreneurs who have no other sources of financing.