Please join me on C4

C4I previously wrote about my good friends on C4 and how they’re helping Africa by letting people like you and me invest in small African businesses.

They are now moving into an open beta and are looking for more people to use the system. Won’t you join me there?

I’ve been using it for a while now and have already invested in a group of 6 women who want to sell auto spare parts and in Sulaiman Bulega (shown in the picture) who is going to expand the selection of office stationery in his store.

The really cool thing here is not only that helping people in the third world feel great – I also stand to get my investments back, with interest. So far, all the investments on the site have been repaid in full, meaning the default rate on the loans is lower than in banks in developed nations.

It’s really simple to join the site and to use it – but you will have to put at least 150 Euro (about 200 USD) in your account which you can then immediately invest in Africa.

In my opinion, THIS is how we will help the third world. Not by giving away money and aid but through investments and trade.

I urge you to join C4 – read all about it here and join here.

23 thoughts on “Please join me on C4”

  1. hello alexander,

    am signing up to c4 now… what a fantastic idea… will definitely be putting money into it…

    have you tried what seems to be a similar model… kiva.org … i have been using that for a while (about 18 months or so) and put over $1000 there… and so far have got every single dollar back… *zero defaults*.

    you don’t get paid interest on kiva.org when you get paid back… but i didn’t really care about that.. i wasn’t putting the money in as a financial investment, but rather as a ethical investment :-)

    works wonderfully… try it out :-)

    the mage :-)

  2. I haven’t tried Kiva, but I hear great things about it!

    And I agree – making these investments is not really about making a profit – it’s about helping. But when you can do both at the same time… :o)

  3. hmm…. signed up to c4 almost 12 hours ago… could not login in … got a “login incorrect”… did a password reminder (just to make sure i did have it right)… tried to log in now… (almost 12 hours from registering)… and still getting a “login incorrect”…. hmm….

  4. Cheers, :)

    I disagree a bit with your second to last statement.

    Firstly, “giving money and aid” does not mean that the “money and aid” cannot be used to finance and microfinance the society. In fact, much of it is used for just that.

    Secondly, I think it would be good to realise that much of the suffering, starvation and misfortune in the world has been and is caused directly or indirectly by us (the “developed” world), our governments and our corporations. It is nice to realise this, and then give some of what we have to someone else, without the goal of doing it to make ourselves better off as well.

    Thirdly, I believe that the governments of the developed and “not so developed” countries should hold the main responsibility for providing human rights and social security to the the world. It is important to influence our governments through, for example, the democratic process (vote for people who care and want to make a difference!) or by running ourselves for elected office to be able to make that difference. Obviously I respect all kinds of aid efforts and NGOs (or C4s) that are making a difference around the world, but I do think that part of all aid work should focus on pushing for political change.

    Finally, in the real world, it’s obviously wonderful and great that six women (and their children, relatives, and so on) probably have a better life at the moment because of you and C4.

    :),
    Mikael

  5. Hi Mage,

    Super that you want to join MyC4!

    When you fill out the form on the login page, we will revert to you with a welcome email with details on how to upload money to your account (

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  7. thanks Tim.

    I only just got the message from c4 regarding bank account details a day ago… (a few days after registration!)…. although i had got the “email confirmation” from c4 almost immediately… so a little confusing there…

    and nope… i’m not from north america… so will transfer some funds to c4 soon :)

  8. mage, trust me, we are working hard to solve this part…. thank you for being patient!

    i look forward to be “working” with you on myc4 >> eradicate poverty through business…

  9. tim, i believe ya :-) good on you for doing something… i got the email with the bank account details.. have sent off a bank authority form for me to be able to do transfers overseas via the internet…. so hopefully sometime next week … i’ll transfer the money :-)

  10. tim (et al)… have been doing a lot of thinking about this while waiting for my bank to approve me to do international transfers via online banking…

    incidently, i started reading “banker to the poor” this morning… which is a story about the grameen bank…

    and now i’m not so sure about C4 (only because you get your money back with interest).. if i did not (as in kiva.org) … i would put money in straight away… but getting the money back with interest almost taints the goodness of the act… i don’t want to place the recipients under pressure or use it for my personal monetary gain…. hmm…..

  11. mage, i fully respect your point of view… there is a great debate about this specific topic going on, on myc4!

    to sum this debate up, i want to quote alex (myc4 builder) who said: it is up to you what you bid on a loan (e.g. 2%) to an entrepreneur (it is not even sure you get into the loan if you are too expensive – wisdom of crowds is doing the selection here!) – i choose to charge an interest rate because when i get repaid with interest, i can now reinvest an even higher amount!”

    it is important to get africa back on track that you respect the africans as businesspartners – and yes, it costs money to loan money!

    i hope the above answers you “questions”…

  12. Fascinating discussion.

    I just wanted to add, that I really appreciate that fact that C4 lenders get interests.

    Not because I can make money that way, but because it once and for all removes this project from the realm of “charity” and places it squarely in the realm of “business”.

    I remain convinced, that in may cases charity simply keeps people in a victim mindset – whereas doing business with them empowers them.

  13. ah alexander, but would you consider kiva.org charity? i don’t… you get your money back… you are not “giving” money away!

    what is an important distinction though is that if you don’t charge interest.. you are helping “break the cycle” for people in poverty… if you charge interest – depending on the amount and individual circumstance and luck of course, the person is being tied further and further into the debt cycle and in poverty.

    i think there are “ways” that charging interest can work… the grameen bank charges 20% in the year, but they have a system of weekly repayments and going to people to their doors etc… without a very very systematic approach and an enormous amount of other help provided to people trying to “get a break” i think the interest does indeed become a business transaction… but unfortunately, it does become a “what’s in it for me” business transaction… and given that most of the poverty in the world is as a result of (indirectly, or perhaps even directly) “our” (yes, i mean “our”, anyone reading this blog will have had enough resources and been part of the “world ‘free’ trade agreements” that keep the poor in the 3rd world poor) actions… so the least we can do is give a lending hand without additional strings attached…

    mage.

  14. Marge, you are absolutely right that you do not receive an interest rate on the funds you “give” on Kiva – but did you know that Kiva uses Micro Finance Institutions (MFI) in their value chain to make these loans take place, and that these MFIs are charging the local entrepreneurs interest rates that are around 37%… there are debates going on about this topic several places on the net (I do not have the links here, sorry) as people feel mislead due to Kiva being a non-profit organization!

    You must understand that I really like Kiva (we are talking to the Founder now and then) – I just think it is important that you know of this if you are so observant on interest rates.

    We are in direct contact with the entrepreneurs on MyC4 and they are very happy with the interest rate they are receiving, but on top of this and even more important (in my eyes), the entrepreneurs feel very confident in being treated as an entrepreneur and not a poor person!! I believe this feeling can not be weighted in gold…. it is called dignity!!!

  15. hi tim,

    i had no idea that some of kiva’s recipients were getting charged up to 37%… if that is the case, that is absolutely appalling!

    You’ve convinced me that c4 is worth a go anyway… :-) so will be transferring a thousand bucks or so today :-) and in the course of time, i’m sure feedback from the entreprenuer’s will show what they thought of the loan with interest… perhaps as you have said, it might indeed promote harder work and dignity… ???

    perhaps there could be a site where the entreprenuer could say what interest they are willing to pay? 0%, 20% or whatever … and the lender could choose… ???

  16. Hi Mage,

    Great to hear from you so soon…

    You can communicate directly with the entrepreneurs on MyC4 via their respective blog – if they do not have a computer, are illiterate or do not speak English, there are Providers (you will get to know their role as soon as you are on board) that will help them receive and send their communication! It is actually very transparent…

    In the presentation of each of the entrepreneurs, they are saying how much they maximum can pay in interest rate… then it is up to you to bid how much or little you want in interest rate (you could e.g. choose to bid only 2% and yes that will definitely benefit the entrepreneur) – our dutch auction can drive the interest rate down down down – we have had cases where the interest rate went below 10%!!!

    I look very much forward to be “working” with you on MyC4!

  17. hi tim,

    (alex, sorry to use this as a chat channel… you can delete this comment after tim has responsed :-)

    tim, can you please send me an email at ringlerun at gmail.com and let me know the bank account details… i can’t seem to find them anywhere…

    mage.

  18. hmmmm… interesting… asked kiva about the interest rate charges from their field partners…

    The reply:
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Thank you very much for your interest in Kiva.org!

    Kiva provides the funds that it raises on its website to its field
    partners interest-free; however, Kiva’s field partners do charge the
    businesses that they disburse the loans to interest in order to cover
    their own operational expenses. You can find more information about
    the interest rates that Kiva’s field partners charge on Kiva’s partner
    pages: http://www.kiva.org/about/partners/.

    The average interest rate that a Kiva field partner charges is 18%,
    and Kiva.org only partners with microfinance institutions that have a
    social mission of lending to the poor. To obtain more information
    about how Kiva.org evaluates and selects its field partners, please
    see Kiva.org’s due diligence pages:
    http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=about&action=risk__overview.

    Also, the nature of microcredit

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