Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man

Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man

Article excerpt

An amazing piece of financial analysis has been circulating by email recently.

If you had purchased $1,000 worth of AIG stock a year ago, you would have $44.34 left.

With Wachovia, you would have had $54.74 left of the original $1,000.

With Lehman, you would have had $0.00 left.

But if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year, drunk all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminium recycling refund, you would have $214 cash.

Even better, if a year ago you had decided to entrust your $1,000 to the needy rather than the greedy, you would have ended up today with $1,000.

This market-beating 0 per cent rate of return is available through a website called www. kiva. org. It's a site dedicated not to charitable giving but to charitable lending -- and to the refreshingly entrepreneurial idea that if you want to feed a man, the best thing isn't to give him a fish, or even to teach him to fish, but to lend him the money to buy a net.

Or perhaps a fridge.

'Tajeddin Babayev is a meat and fish vendor at the bazaar in the north-easterly Azerbaijani town of Khachmaz. He is 51 years old, married with three children and has been a vendor for the last 12 years. He is currently looking for funding in the amount of $725 in order to purchase a refrigerator for his business and to make some minor repairs.' All prospective borrowers on the site are introduced with little written portraits like this, alongside a photograph. Hence, unlike money deposited with a conventional bank, it provides an emotional return on your investment: the pleasure of seeing where your money goes. It's a little like It's a Wonderful Life in miniature. …

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