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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Micro Enterprise Summit Breakout - Micro Enterprise and Philanthropy

Panelists: Jack Litzenburg (Charles Stewart Mott Foundation), Terry Bell (Rockwell Fund), Tracy Kartye (Anne E. Casey Foundation)

Comments from Jack Litzenburg

Mott Foundation - national funder
- Early entry into the ME market
- Helped build equity in early ME funds
- Documented lessons in ME
- Today the foundation has turned it's attention to:
  • Started ME Funders Group
    • operated through the Aspen Institute. See document created to educate funders. They created a series of funder guides
  • Funded "Micro Test" collects data to identify best practices
  • Building scale in US M.E.
    • Interested to see what the impact of building scale is on the community / organizations
- Tomorrow?
  • Micro Enterprise Leadership Academy
  • Develop entrepreneurial network for entrepreneurs
    • Cost of money is a big deal in the emerging world. In our economy the major hurdle is getting to market, competing with the big guys.
    • Ex. creation of brand name speciality foods from Appalachia that helps bring products to larger markets (Cracker Barrel Restaurants) (ACENET?)
  • Community Colleges have a role to play
    • connection between economic ed, developmental ed, adult ed
- If we are to be competitive in the world market, we must help our low income people engage in the economy

Comments from Tracy Kartye (Anne E. Casey Foundation)

Mission - to build better futures for disadvantaged children and their families

- $100m endowment for social investment
  • Expect market rate investment
Outcomes for Business Investments
  • Economic Development
  • Job Creation
  • Income patching
Comments from Terry Bell (Rockwell Fund)

- We don't really do micro credit / loaning in the US. We just can charge enough interest (in India they charge 60% interest)
- Philanthropy makes up the difference between what we can charge vs. overhead to run a program. Bell contends that overhead can't be covered by interest alone.
- Groups like Accion helps mitigate losses through relationships
- Why are philanthropists (foundations) good partners
  • they have time (don't report quarterly)
  • they have flexibility
  • can help mitigate risk
  • misconception: we're easy. there is a move in philanthropy to be more demanding, have more accountability
What do philanthropists look for in projects?
  • Bottom line
  • Measurable success
  • Begin with the end in sight
  • See that things work
Q and A with Panel:

Q. How to achieve scale?

J.L. - Most ME lending isn't so much a dollar and cents transaction these days, it's one of education. Don't underestimate the true cost of education.

Q. Will scale cost?

T.B. - Perhaps, cited example of Midwest company who were bought out and lost personal touch. Micro businesses need attention

Q. Consolidation in the ME industry:

J.L. YES! He's love to see one loan pool per city with different underwriters applying to. Having separate loan pools is suicidal. One pool would be most effective and efficient.

Accion: Has developed a common loan pool and management of loan portfolio. Check with Aspen Institute.

Q. What forces would drive that?

J.L. Perhaps by the founders for more efficient use of loan funds.

How can corporate partnerships help us (other than banks)?
  • Procurement (supplies)
  • Understanding the demand side of the labor markets
  • How to enter the global markets

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