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Microfinancier

Washington and Lee alumnus Drew McWay returned to his alma mater this week to give a presentation about his new venture, Dvelo.org, a platform to connect investors with communities in the developing world. Drew is a 2008 W&L grad who won one of the 100 Projects for Peace and used his $10,000 grant to partner with a small microfinance group based in Peru. Long-time readers of the What’s News blog will remember an item about Drew from October 2008. Back then, he was in Peru with Sinergia, a company that loaned money to women who want to start their own businesses, Drew launched Dvelo.org in December and has already raised $14,000. Its goal is to motivate lenders with financial and social incentives to make small loans to capital- constrained microfinance institutions. Then, according to Drew’s explanation, those microfinance institutions can use funds raised on Dvelo.org for portfolio expansion, capacity building, and other productive purposes before repaying the lenders with interest following the maturation of the loan. Dvelo (which stands for “Development via Education, Lending and Opportunity”) has raised its resources from among its 245-plus users for communities on three continents. Dvelo’s partners in Nicaragua, Senegal and Vietnam are raising capital on dvelo.org with offered interest rates that are significantly more affordable than the commercial prime lending rates in their respective counties. He and his business partners firmly subscribe to the philosophy that credit is not just for the rich; it is a fundamental right for all. Watch the video that Drew and co-director James Beshera produced to introduce the site. Here’s a link to the video.