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Communities as an alternative, rewarding, and personal investment opportunity

Encouraging communities to thrive with their own on-hand resources through a peer lending trust system.

Photo of Karine Sarkissian
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Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

This idea benefits: 1. communities with on-hand resources seeking financial empowerment; 2. individuals with savings looking for a alternative way to invest (lend) their money.

How is your idea specifically using the power of communities to improve financial opportunities and resources?

This idea takes advantage of the dynamics in a community (i.e. trust, organization, cooperation) to make it an attractive alternative investment solution for individual around the world. In turn, communities have access to a new financial resources (the savings of individuals).

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Before launching any such platform, it is essential to test it on a micro-scale. Essentially, that means seeking out a local community with an on-hand resource looking for financial empowerment as well as a potential investor eager to help through investing. Testing the platform on a personal basis by word of mouth before launching it online is important. Discussing and getting feedback from the main players can insure a more successful system in the long run.

What skills, input or guidance might you be seeking from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I'm looking for any constructive criticism to perfect this idea further. I realize it's an ambitious project, but poking holes, giving existing examples, and asking questions is key in aiding to make it successful.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

This idea consists of creating a new platform to help communities with on-hand resources in need of financial support. It will link these communities with people wanting to make investments through online media and the power of awareness.

Relating to my research posts from a few weeks ago, this idea arose from a combination of different programs and initiatives (

It takes aspects from 3 main ideas:

    1. Micro-financing, with its main goal of lending money to smaller organizations or         individuals that may not be liable to a larger bank institution

    2. Peer Lending systems (lending club), in which, you encourage individuals to lend to         one another. Through such systems, there is an increase in awareness, making the         lending system more personal

    3. Looking at systems such as “Heifer International’- encouraging communities to        work together and creating a self-sustainable group of people.

Having stated my influences and inspirations, here’s how the system will work:

*Investor: Any individual with savings looking for a personalized alternative way to     invest (lend) their money.

* Platform: Our online portal serving as a connector between communities and potential     investors.

  1. The platform will seek out communities around the world that have strong resources (farming community, cotton or silk, food productions…) and that need funding.

  2. We will approach these communities about our existing platform; to explain how it works and to see if the community is interested in receiving loans.

  3. If the community accepts, educating them about how lending and investing works will be a key aspect in ensuring that they can benefit from the system.

  4. Once those steps have been taken, the community will appoint a mediator- someone that will connect the platform with the community- someone with whom we can communicate, and someone that the community respects and would like to work with.

  5. Launching the online program. Here is how we activate the network of investors to learn about communities around the world that are seeking to make a difference. Each community will get their own page, a personal approach about the community, where it is, and the resource it has and wants to grow. Sharing their story and increasing awareness!

  6. Invest. At this point, the community is open to taking loans from people that want to invest. The system can be altered and catered to each project individually.

  7. Assessing the investors and their sources is key from our side of the platform. We need to insure that everything is controlled and regulated.

  8. Creating partnerships and relationships across platforms. It raises awareness and a long-term partnership to help communities in need.

  9. Follow-Up between investors and communities, to monitor how the communities are doing, and help with questions, advice, as a resource for them.

  10. Communities repay their investors, and hopefully stand on their own-self-sustainable.

This system creates a strong partnership encouraging people to help those who need it most to stand on their own two feet. The community has a responsibility towards their investors and they learn about investing and managing themselves, their new-found business, and enventually become self-sustainable. The investors, learn about communities that are out-there, help people grow, and can involve themselves anyway that they want on a very personal basis.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shane Zhao

Great to see how this idea emerged from your Alternative Ways contribution Karine! This is an interesting way to empower communities who already have the capacity to become economically self-reliant. It'd be great to learn more about how the educational component may play out. i.e. beyond gaining access to funds from investors, what type of activities/ programs can be launched to equip these communities with new knowledge and skill sets? You might be interested to build on or collaborate with this like minded idea on Mircrolearning:

Also, this is another great contribution that you might like to build on to develop the "Mediator" aspect of your idea:

Photo of Karine Sarkissian

Thanks Shane! Those are some great comments. Joe Silva and I hosted an OpenIDEO MeetUp and discussed my idea and ways to improve it, I will be posting an update soon. I checked out the posts you suggested, they feature great ways of improvements- especially in regards to the educational aspect of my idea. Thanks again!