Social lending. The name says it all, even though it almost sounds like a contradiction in terms. Unless we're talking about the lifeblood of solidarity reviving an area considered tough and arid and the pioneer is Ida Meglio, a financial operator swimming against the tide who has chosen to invest her skills in a start-up promoting social innovation and employing two under-35s: Anna Colacicco for the legal side and Ilaria Affinati for digital marketing.
The heart of Social Lending? Crowdfunding – raising money on the internet through social media and social networks – applied to microcredit. The recipients: the disadvantaged. Their pilot target, selected after a assessment on the ground of the community rooted in the local area: young second-generation immigrants, because, Ida Meglio says, “according to data from the Italian National Institute of Statistics, their entrepreneurship could give a 0.5% boost to the Italian economy”. But this is just the beginning: their goal is to apply this microcredit business based on digital innovation to a wider target group suffering from social exclusion, which also includes young Italians.
Just like the pioneers, they advance in stages but with a clear goal in mind: social enterprise. Their model is Kiva, a US NGO inspired by the Bengali Nobel Laureate Muhammed Yunus's Gramen Bank, which, thanks to crowdfunding, promotes microcredit in disadvantaged countries - no donations and no financial intermediation. A third way exists, and it is that of responsabilisation. They move forward side by side, making the project attractive to investors, increasing the platform's visibility, seeking out banks that disburse microcredit, creating partnership for guarantees and organising fund-raising. The pioneers who started the business couldn't be more deserving of the title of digital champions.
The story of Social Lending has been written by Elisabetta Flumeri and Gabriella Giacometti, writers.