With the devestation that hurricane Sandy has caused all along the east coast, many peope’s homes, jobs, business are wiped out.  I’m sure there will be lots of aid coming their way, but how much of it will the individuals have to rebuild themselves?  With projections of $50 billion in damages and millions of insurance claims, I can’t imagine that people will have money for necessities, let alone rebuilding their lives.  Most microfinance loans go to other countries, I’m curious to see if the handful of lending platforms, like Kiva Zip, who lend to people in the US, will have a spike in how many people are borrowing.  You would imagine that most of these people would try to rebuild what they already had, so they could prove that their ideas do actually work rather than starting a business from scratch, so the loan repayment rate technically should be higher.  How practical would it be to set up a lending platform that catered to helping people rebuild their lives after a natural disaster?  There are natural disasters all the time, not neccessarily as big as hurricane Sandy, but disasters nonetheless.  Would a lending platform be able to sustain itself by only having loan recipients when a disaster strikes?  Or would the pauses in between be beneficial by giving a sort of grace period where loans could be paid back to the lenders.  People donate small amounts to Red Cross and other relief organizations all the time, but would their amounts be higher if they knew that they could potentially get it back? There’s obviously lots of things to think about for the concept to work, but if you had some sort of endowment fund, you could have ads during the new on TV or on news sites that would explain to people about microfinance.  You could possibly even get free advertising as a PSA.  Not sure how practical it is overall, but seems like it could work.

About Jerry Ostradicky

I work in Advertising Operations at Zillow, but LOVE microfinance. I'm always interested in startups, especially non-profits, reach out to me if you're working on anything cool!