details – from the horse’s mouth !

If you are someone who has even a remote interest in microfinance or microcredit, chances are that you know about Kiva. Matt Flannery explains the story of Kiva’s creation and also tosses in some of the ideas at the Annual Entrepreneurship Program Forum at Brown University. The good folks at the Brown’s entrepreneurship program, decided to publish the video here. Co-Founder & CEO, Matt Flannery at Brown University from Brown Entrepreneurship Prgm. on Vimeo.

What is missing in this video is the amount of effort involved by both Matt and Jessica to start Kiva. Some parts of the video that I found interesting (my notes in the sub-points)

  1. Write an idea every day. Write a business plan everyday. Atleast talk to someone who understands how passionate you are, who can shoot your plans down.
    1. Yes, there are specific qualities in people who do that. Ask my good friend Mads and he will be glad to tutor you in those 😀
  2. Matt started a simple portal who can allow people fund small entrepreneurs.
    1. So, not all big ideas need to start as serving a big purpose. It could be something that helped you in doing something easily.
  3. The better the idea it is – the more contrarian the feedback is; the converse more often than not is not true !
  4. While you start, you are strongly affected by others’ opinion, but slowly you will develop the confidence to fight that.
    1. Of course, being foolhardy doesn’t help – and that is a very important thing to note
  5. Scalability is the big concern in a venture like this
  6. There is a whole legal issue about the legality of lending money to people over the Internet internationally
  7. A big shift in thought process is to see these entrepreneurs in Africa as business partners rather than someone who live off charity. People find it wrong to do business  with those in need.
    1. I think this is definitely an interesting point. Even though, people find it wrong to do that, in most of the cases, I think, helping people get back on their feet is more important than merely letting them live off donations. And those receiving will be a lot more confident of bettering their lives if they do something on their own
  8. The difference between traditional business marketing and how Kiva got marketed was that it was all viral. Bloggers started blogging about it and slowly the word spread
  9. The most important barrier between you and success / scalability is inactivity. Just get the business out !
  10. (Apparently) Most people in the world work for themselves
  11. Estimated about 100 million people have been reached, and there is another 500 million people to be reached
  12. Zero percent loans only, due to the legal restrictions. They became a non-profit. The borrowers though are charged interest. This is to ensure that the MFI is sustainable.
    1. This is an important thing for the whole system to work. Even though the lender doesn’t get any return on the investment, the borrower still does need to pay the interest on the loan. This is to ensure that there borrowers treat the loan as what it is – a loan
  13. How does Kiva survive – it survives because people are given an option to donate to Kiva, and that is how they make money; around 70-80 thousand dollars a month
  14. Delinquency rate of around 6% and a default rate of around 3%
  15. Sometimes external events can also effect your business in a very positive way.
    1. Mohammad Yunus winning the Nobel peace prize got Kiva front page press, and it furthered their cause. A positive correlation event !
  16. Funds are transferred using paypal by the lenders. All this money is then consolidated and sent to the MFI over a wire-transfer
  17. It is the NGO which is rated, not the individual
    1. This simple thing makes sure NGOs pick individuals that they think can repay the loans. This saves Kiva a lot of effort in trying to pick borrowers.

It definitely is an interesting video about how a software programmer in Tivo decided to take a sabbatical and then created a simple site that helps people rebuild their lives. The idea is not new, but the implementation was and that is what made Kiva different.

Continuing on the theme, there are two organizations that I know of – RangDe and DhanaX that do the same thing in India. I have been following the developments of RangDe for a while now. Am not sure of DhanaX. If you are interested, please check out their site and make a small contribution to a small entrepreneur in India. And do remember to check RangDe’s blog.

Nagumomu ganaleni by MS Subbulakshmi

One of my favourite Tyāgarāja krithis is Nagumomu ganaleni. You can get the lyrics of it at Prof. Shivkumar Kalyanaraman’s wonderful site (check the krithis section). And if you are particularly lazy, here is the link or this.

For a long while I was looking for the the diva’s rendition of this krithi. I am a die hard fan of hers, actually fan is not the right word. I will not listen to any other Carnatic vocalist; and even if I do, I am not in the plane which amma can send me to. Part of it is due to early morning playback on cassettes (yeah waaaay back !!!!!) when we were kids, and I guess it made a very strong impression.

Anycase, I was delighted when I found out that YouTube had the diva’s rendition. Saturday 7 in the morning, I am up, and listening to her ! The sun is not going to be up for another 40 minutes at the very least and I seem to have a long playlist to keep me company. Oh well, I need to go to work today !!! Dang 🙁

And in case you want to listen it from here – here it is

Hope you enjoy it too ! I am going to collect all of the MS’s audio on YouTube (and other places) and put it up here. If not anything else, it will be my bookmark 😉

Update: I was ready to post this and realised that my blog host is down 🙁 So, if you see a difference in time – don’t look at me 🙂

Are XBox live-ish scenarios the future of supply chain ?

Dan Gilmore, the editor-in-chief of Supply Chain Digest writes that the future of supply chain will look like the Xbox live sort of environment. He proposes that the upstream and the downstream of the chain will always be connected and there will be connections buzzing between the various trading partners. There will be instant information about any changes and each node of the graph (drawing an analogy to networks) will get proportionally perturbed based on the change on the nodes that it is related to – which will be pretty much all the nodes in the graph (more on this later).

Now, do I subscribe to the view ? I think that this view is not radically different from any other business that operates in the globalized world. Seamless integration of various communication channels is something that is being addressed by not just technology companies, but also by media companies (when you see BBC sending tweets from Davos, you know there is a significant mindset shift). This is the day of instant communication. I see people at work using a blackberry when they are 5 minutes away from checking their mail on their laptops. Like one of the comments in the post says – the problem is not the lack of information, rather it is the lack of pertinent information. To sound clichéd, the problem is to find the signal amongst the noise.

I think it is a natural extension for any business, much more the supply chain business to adopt this particular trend. And as somebody who does know a little bit about supply chains, I can definitely see that happening in the future.

Now, what I think will be the more interesting part of the supply chain is not the forever connected information stream, but the percolation of the required (as in business rule changing, bottom lines affecting, customer missing presents before a festival sort of) events with the ability to find alternatives in real time. Business analytics is not a new field, and there are companies which already incorporate their supply chain into their analytics. What will, I think, change is that these analytics will be aided with real-time supply chain rules, and provide for an easy to apply human element i.e., the CEO / CIO will be able to notify the system in a more natural way about the course of action to take. There might be a feedback loop, but I see that as an optional thing.

In short, it is not the what to you talk your trading partners, your customers if you are a 3PL or the end customer if you are a D2C that is going to change, it is the when you talk to them that I think, is going to change. I would be interested in your opinion about this, please drop a note about what you think the supply chains of the future will look like and if they will be drastically different. Will there be a tipping point which will change how we view the supply chain of the future and if so, what will it look like ?