Author Archives: Kirsten Weiss

About Kirsten Weiss

Integrating marketing and strategy to develop profitable, demand-driven institutions.

True confessions: all this green is starting to make me see red.  I like clean air and water, and am fairly frugal so conservation makes sense to me, but without a positive economic return I don’t believe many alternative energy initiatives can or should survive.  RFPs for projects which combine green energy and microcredit seem to be popping up more and more frequently, making my skeptic’s radar glow hot.  Can … Read More >>

Principles for Smarter Microfinance

Frustrated by MFIs with loose credit policies? Fed up with regulators bent on imposing interest rate caps?  Finally, MFI managers and stakeholders can take some constructive action. On June 14th, Beth Porter, founder of Women Advancing Microfinance spoke to the Silicon Valley Microfinance Network (SVMN) about the Smart Campaign. The Smart Campaign is a global effort within the microfinance industry to bring transparency to the pricing of microloans.  The general … Read More >>

Occasionally I’m asked about microcredit programs targeting youth, and I confess I remain skeptical of them.  But recently I came across a really remarkable model for engaging youth – not as borrowers, but as funders of microcredit – and it turned up in my home town, of San Mateo, CA. In 2008, Hillsdale High School formed a club called The Hillsdale Effect, dedicated to raising funds for microfinance.  This year, … Read More >>

After spending 12+ years abroad, microfinance for me will always evoke dusty bazaars and foreign places.  I’ve been home a year now and have gotten used to the idea of the many microfinance programs operating in California’s Bay Area, with its urban areas and wildly varying incomes.  Still, I found myself a bit surprised when I learned about a microsavings program operating in my home town of San Mateo, California.  After all, San … Read More >>

How often do you catch yourself saying “microfinance” when you really mean “microcredit?”  Let’s face it – in the world of microfinance, lending represents the lion’s share of financial activity, with savings and other services the poor second cousins.  However, in San Francisco, EARN has flipped that equation, with microsavings playing the leading role.   I interviewed EARN CEO, Ben Mangan, to learn about their program, savings and sustainability, and the … Read More >>

The book, Microfinance for Bankers and Investors, provides case studies demonstrating how microfinance is attracting top companies and investors, allowing for both social responsibility and profit.  Its author, Elisabeth Rhyne, Managing Director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, will be speaking on Engaging the Private Sector in Microfinance to the Silicon Valley Microfinance Network on September 16th.  Here’s a teaser: Me:  Thanks for letting me interview you … Read More >>

After twelve years in the field, I found myself a bit behind the tech curve when I returned to my home in the Silicon Valley.  So after attending Stephen Goodman’s (from Sun Microsystems) presentation on Emerging Market Models to the SVMN, I decided to circle back and get some questions answered from a Luddite’s view. Me (Kirsten): Thanks for taking the time to chat with me Stephen. Stephen: Of course! … Read More >>

The “classic” model for microfinance entails lending for income generation. But the microfinance community is starting to experiment with ways to bring the power of microfinance for other purposes related to the needs of the poor and under served in the developing world. I interviewed April Rinne, Director of WaterCredit, about the role of microfinance in delivering improved access to water and sanitation. Q: Tell me about WaterCredit. WaterCredit is … Read More >>

The Silicon Valley and Microfinance?

What’s the connection between Northern California and microfinance? I interviewed April Newman, Interim Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Microfinance Network, to find out. Q: What does Silicon Valley have to do with microfinance? The Bay Area and Silicon Valley have the technology, expertise, and venture capital of few other places in the world. Social entrepreneurship is quite vibrant in the Bay Area as well. If you think about MicroPlace … Read More >>

Microfinance in… California?

Evelyn Huang leads the Small Business Loan Program at Opportunity Fund, an organization which also provides matched savings accounts, finances affordable housing in Silicon Valley, and lends to real estate projects bringing investment in to low-income communities. Opportunity Fund is also one of the hosts of the Microfinance California 2009 conference, on May 28, 2009. Kirsten Weiss: Tell me a bit about Opportunity Fund’s microloan program in California. Evelyn Huang: … Read More >>