OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

UPDATE: 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
2 2

Written by

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

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?

How to improve the educational sector of my idea? What about the mediator/facilitators from the community, does that seem to have success? How to perfect and gap the holes in the idea?

This idea emerged from:

  • An OpenIDEO Meetup


My initial idea proposed in my post, “Communities as an alternative, rewarding, and personal investment opportunity ” (also posted below) ( lacked some specifications about how the educational component of the platform would play out.

For a community to be financially empowered, not only does it need to receive loans and funds, but it needs the support to financially operate on its own-to understand how to make use of loans and how to pay back debts.

In turn, as suggested through comments and through the NYC OpenIDEO MeetUp, the post “Microlearning: a new approach to empower microcredit borrowers and their communities through financial literacy” ( seems like the ideal way to tackle the educational component.  The creating of mirco-learning courses evaluated with tests will encourage people to see the improvements and benefits of learning about micro-financing.  Additionally, helping peers is an element that must be pushed and persuaded in a community.  As mentioned in the idea, staggered loans will be installed to access each new round of financing by passing each exam sections.

I hope to explore this idea further by joining the team working on the proposed challenge post.

image source: wikipedia


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.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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!

    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.

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

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

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

    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 Rick Bumby

This creates a direct link between lender and borrower and encourages lenders to use local resources, especially the communities on which they lend. The trust system, in effect, funds the lender. By making loans more available to communities, the system offers borrowers an alternative to credit card lenders. It's much cheaper for community members to pay for goods and services, rather than paying a monthly subscription fee via

In fact, the trust program is a model for similar community funding networks currently operating across more than one hundred US states.

As for what community members could get in return for paying monthly fees, the trust's trust officers would sell the trust. All this would benefit the community in some way, so it's hardly a negative.

But to what end does it benefit us? On the surface, it sounds like it would encourage better relationships between people and communities. If local lenders can get back their trust fees and encourage lenders to lend to their local community, they could have a lot going for them.

But there are some downsides too. For starters, community members would have to do without credit card services. Even if they can get those, many would prefer not to pay any monthly fees, or simply take care of their monthly payments in their

Photo of Annie

Hi Karine

I notice a lot of similarities with your proposal and what Kiva/Kiva Zip provide. I wonder if they are already addressing these needs. Maybe you could elaborate on how your idea is different to the platforms that are currently successful?