Earlier this month, the White House honored Premal Shah, President of crowdfunding and microfinance philanthropy site Kiva.org in their annual Champions of Change ceremony. This year’s crowdfunding-themed event highlighted the positive impact that the growing industry is having on social problems. Other notable attendees included Candace Klein, Chris Tyrell, DJ Paul, members of CrowdFund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates (CFIRA) who are working to facilitate the introduction of equity crowdfunding.
For those unfamiliar with Kiva.org, the site uses crowdfunding to connect those in need of micro-credit with philanthropic-minded supporters. The organization states that its mission is “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” But Kiva is hardly a charity—rather it aims to convert donors into lenders and borrowers into entrepreneurs. For as little as $25, small time financiers can support an effort to buy a cow, purchase school supplies or pay for an education. Over 99% of loans have been repaid to date, and Kiva recently celebrated its 1 millionth loan. The site’s success has been a leading example of the power of crowdfunding.
The Crowdfunding Champions of Change event comes as the industry stands on the brink of its most exciting frontier yet. With the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) act passed and regulation under review by the SEC, equity crowdfunding is just around the corner. The Administration’s recognition of the value of crowdsourcing in entrepreneurship is clear: Tom Kalil, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation, described crowdfunding as an “inherently democratizing force for innovation and entrepreneurship.” We at Launcht congratulate Shah on the well-deserved honor, and are proud to see that CFIRA, of which our CEO Freeman White was a founding member, continues to be a major player in the equity crowdfunding discussion.