Last 23rd March the three Toastmasters clubs in Madrid organized a gathering at Hard Rock Cafe. The event was a great success with over 40 people attending it. John organized it including 3 prepared speeches, a book review, some table topics and an improvised theatre!
I gave a speech which I had created over a year before. That was my 9th speech in the way to obtaining the Competent Communicator award of Toastmasters. The objective: “Persuade with Power”.
I first gave this speech titled “Angels” on the 4th of February in 2009. Then I used it again for the Area spring contest and again in the Division conference in Lisbon that same year.
With some slight modifications I gave it again in the gathering. This is its script and more or less what I said…
“Do you believe in angels? I do. I do believe in angels. What if I tell you that I am an angel? Wouldn’t you be curious? Wouldn’t you like to hear about it? You will.
I believe in what are called “business angels”.
I guess that most of you have heard the term “business angel” at some point. For those of you who haven’t: business angels are investors who invest part of their money in small and medium start-up companies, helping entrepreneurs to set up their businesses.
In this speech I want to persuade you to become business angels. You may tell me “Javier, I don’t have a spare million to invest in companies”; neither do I.
Do you think that to be an angel… to help someone to start-up with their business, a lot of money is needed?
Microcredits are small loans given to the poor, to those entrepreneurs who lack collaterals and a credit history; this makes them not eligible for the traditional credit given by banks. We are talking about someone in Vietnam who runs a grocery shop or about Mariano Choque who makes handicraft in Peru and whom I met last summer in a trip to Peru.
Microcredits are generally considered to have originated with the Grameen Bank created by Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh more than 30 years ago. It all started as a research project to examine the possibility of designing a credit delivery system to provide banking services targeted to the rural poor. For this contribution, Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
Ok, this is the theory. Now, I told you I was an angel; do you think I am part of that Grameen Bank in Bangladesh? No, I’m not.
Today the internet has facilitated very much the process. Kiva.org is a US non-profit organization which links those poor entrepreneurs, in developing countries, with us, here in Europe.
Kiva presents us with a list of individuals who are requesting an amount to start or improve their business. There you choose in which project you want to invest and how much do you want to invest. Kiva was started in 2005, and now counts with over 600,000 users who have given credits worth over 120M$ to over 320.000 entrepreneurs.
What it’s more… think of this for a moment: we are talking about credits and not donations; this means that you will get the money back! Say you invested 100$; when you get them back what would you do with them? You can lend them again! Imagine how many people you can help with those same 100$. Isn’t it wonderful?
Let’s see possible concerns you may have:
- Is Kiva profiting from it? No, as I said is a non-profit organization. Like Toastmasters. Of course, Kiva has operating costs, but these are covered with different donations than the money you lend to entrepreneurs.
- How do we know the money reached the entrepreneur? Kiva works with several field partners who are the ones scouting the entrepreneurs, uploading the information about them and their projects and finally handing them the money.
- What if the loan is not repaid? Indeed some loans are not repaid. Around 2% of them. To avoid this Kiva is classifying the field partners. They classify them according to the level of risk of the credits already given to entrepreneurs presented by the field partners. But then again… with investment in the stock market, what would you do to avoid losing your investment: you just diversify!
- If you have more concerns or questions about the topic you may ask me after the other speeches.
As I said at the beginning, I believe in angels. I am an angel. And what is more important: each of one you here can give a loan that can change a life… each of you can become an angel.”