Zopa social lending networks microcredit


The other day I read about a young man who was practically destitute, despite having excellent job skills, because he had poor dental luck and couldn't afford the £1100 to get false teeth. He might benefit from Zopa, a social networking site which matches lenders and borrowers in a model based on eBay. Though it presently uses a credit check, the plan is to expand it to check things like your MySpace contacts (who'd've thought that'd ever get you a car loan?) or LinkedIn comments in order to judge whether or not you're a better person than your history (or lack thereof) says. Maybe you just got divorced, went abroad, or were ill (I was all three of those things). By going in this direction Zopa could offer a powerful ethical alternative to usurious payday loan companies, who are often the only option low income people have, or banks who simply don't give a damn.

“You could offer people the ability to say ‘I’d like to lend to A-rated nurses living in London for 12 months,” says Nicholson. “Or you could lend to charities for a zero percent return, or at least a very low interest rate. That’s where the social networking side can come in. We have to be very careful with privacy issues though, when it comes to stuff like letting people connect and chat online.” For more on this, see Techscape's interview with Zopa co-founder Dave Nicholson. [GT]

Zopa social network lending

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February 27, 2007 in Money & finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Coworking: telecommuting loves company


The concept of Coworking is to hook up lonely telecommuters so that they can share office space, tables in cafes, work tips, long walks on the beach, litter boxes, etc. To get involved, you can join the Google Coworking group or check for Coworking chapters in your city. It's set up as a wiki, so you can easily start your own. [GT]


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January 24, 2007 in Money & finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Women in Ethical Business Awards 2007

Juliet_davenport_with_weba_award There is a call for entries for the Women in Ethical Business Awards.

Run by Tridios Bank and Eve magazine, the contest is looking to reward businesses that are founded on ethical principles, and that benefit people or the environment.

Last year's winner (pictured), Juliet Davenport, was the founder and director of Good Energy, a green energy company.

[Via ecostreet]

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January 17, 2007 in Green News, Money & finance, Shows & events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saving Green by Going Green: turn your business hippy


Saving Green by Going Green is a six month intensive program to turn your business in a greener direction. The idea is to introduce businesses to each other in a context where they can find green services that already exist, so they can support each other and make the world a better place in the process. Done in San Francisco to good results, Saving Green by Going Green is branching out into other communities in 2007. [GT]

Saving Green by Going Green

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January 2, 2007 in Money & finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Money makes you sharp and selfish, says study


A new study may shed some light on the non-sharing of haves with the have-nots.  Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that subjects primed with pictures of money were more self-reliant, but also more selfish.  One group was shown pictures of money, and another, pictures of fish.  Then, all were asked to bring chairs for everyone to sit on.  Those who saw the fish, also brought the chairs closer.  However, those primed with money also spent 70% longer working on a difficult puzzle, before asking for help.  "It always bothered me that most people looked only at the desire for money, and that the bottom line was if you wanted money you had problems," said Professor Vohs.  [GT]

Mind over money

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December 29, 2006 in Money & finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Aviva insurance goes carbon-neutral


The world's fifth largest insurer, and largest insurer in the UK, Aviva, has decided to go carbon neutral worldwide.  By the end of March 2007 they even plan to have offset the 110,000 tonnes of carbon they emitted in 2006.  All their UK energy is sourced from renewable sources, and they're moving into tree planting and wind turbines.  [GT]

Norwich Union-owner goes carbon neutral

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December 28, 2006 in Carbon Neutral Living, Green News, Money & finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Open a smile current account and WWF benefits


smile, the internet branch of The Co-Operative Bank, is going the extra mile to help endangered species around the world.

Open a current account and smile will donate £50 to WWF-UK and adopt an orang-utan for you, too!

As if the feel-good factor of banking with the only UK clearing bank with an ethical policy and donating to WWF wasn't enough, WWF will send you an adoption pack for your Orang-utan. This includes a cuddly toy, information booklet and a picture. Aaah.

Go through the link on this page to open your account.

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December 8, 2006 in Money & finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Co-operative Banking: Good with Money


How would you like to do Good With Money without any evil to yourself? Cooperative Insurance has been ranked high in customer satisfaction compared to regular high street banks, and also provides ethical insurance, mortgages, and even investment funds. As part of their "every penny counts" campaign, every £100 spent turns into 1.25p donation to charity; they offset 20% of your vehicle's carbon emissions at no extra charge to you; and the CIS solar tower generates enough power per year to make 9 million cups of tea. But here's a practical motivator: they offer one interest rate for everything, whether you're buying or pulling out cash, where most banks have a good rate for consumption and a ruinous one for cash. Check it out yourself - your wallet won't be sorry. [GT]

Cooperative Insurance [via hugg]

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November 30, 2006 in Money & finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Top concern for ethical investors is workers' rights


Investment management company Standard Life released the results of its annual Ethical Investor Survey a few days ago.

The company's ethical fund customers were asked to rank the issues that most concern them, and this year it turns out that they would prefer Standard Life "to favour investment companies that encourage, maintain and improve the quality of working conditions in their global supply chains".  Numbers two and three on the list of companies favoured by investors were firms involved in controlling pollution and those involved in developing or using renewable energy sources.

On the flip side, survey respondents wanted to avoid having their money poured into companies with poor human rights policies and/or operating in countries with poor human rights records, those involved in producing military weapons and those clearing tropical forests.

It's interesting to see how ethical concerns have moved on in a decade.  The Observer says that the main change is that human rights has become more of a priority.

Another part of the survey concerned those companies who decide that something they're doing isn't all that ethical after all so rid themselves of that activity.  75% of the survey respondents thought three years was an acceptable length of time in purgatory before a company could be considered as an ethical investment.  What do you think?  Can a company ever be cleansed of past sins?

Photo credit: 'Money Tree' by Flickr user jono2k5 under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 licence.

November 20, 2006 in Money & finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Teenage Tycoons To Turn Tenners Into Social Profit


10,000 teenagers are being challenged to turn a £10 loan into a social enterprise.  In essence, whoever takes the loan has a month to invest it.  Prizes are awarded to the top 50 profit makers and, crucially, prizes are also awarded to the 50 judged to have made the most (presumably positive) social impact.

The 'Make Your Mark With A Tenner' (MYMWAT) scheme is funded by a "marketing guru" (according to the BBC), Andrew Reynolds, who said he had donated the money so that youngsters had a chance to show they were "not all a bunch of violent hoodies".

It fits in nicely with the government's Social Enterprise Action Plan published last week, which is designed to promote businesses with a conscience.  Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, which seeks to give opportunities to the socially disadvantaged, The Big Issue and The Eden Project are held up as a shining examples of the social enterprise sector.

Even without the government's promptings, the ethical investor survey results show that it can make financial, as well as ethical, sense to get into the social enterprise business.

November 20, 2006 in Money & finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack