I wonder just how many of you read this:
“My mind has ranged far and wide this past week, across great swaths of time and a skull’s worth of topics…glorious past meals, family, friendships, unrequited love, war, venture capitalism, divorce and…letting go.”
…and thought…huh?...venture capitalism!?!
Seems kinda out of place, doesn’t it? It isn’t. Believe it or not, I’ve been spending a great deal of time thinking about venture capitalism lately. Seriously.
Let me explain.
Here I am, sitting atop Maslow’s Mountain, wondering about “self-actualization.” Wondering about doing “good.” Pondering abstract thoughts about living an “authentic” life. Pondering about making
“a difference.” Mulling about love, charity and the human condition. There’s a swirl, a maelstrom, in my head. In this time of personal “troubles” all I know is that I want to do “good.” I seek redemption. I seek to please someone…anyone. How shall I do that?
I think I know.
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I’ve been most fortunate. Although I’ve failed in SO
many things, although I’ve completely, utterly, failed in love…I’ve continued to be a successful investor. Really. In the past year, I’ve watched my net worth increase by a sizeable amount. I’m not bragging. In fact, I’m thunderstruck. I’ve discovered the truth in that old adage: “The rich get richer
Funny thing, though. I don’t care. I really, truly, absolutely DO NOT CARE
. My ex
will benefit. I’m happy for her. I will have more than I need, more than I want. Money, these days, feels like poison. I’m so tired, sick and disgusted by the seemingly perpetual fight for dollars that the lawyers have been waging (to their respective benefit). I am truly sick and disgusted.
I want to live a modest, simple life (and I shall). I am not comfortable living an affluent life. Affluence seems foreign to me. Dangerous. Destructive. Corrosive. I shall have a simple home. I will be a humble teacher. I shall be a repentant soul. I will put my money to good use.
I will be a venture capitalist. Yup. That’s right. I will be a venture capitalist.
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Just so you know, I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to learn that Muhammad Yunus
was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Have you heard the name? A pity if you have not.
Muhammad Yunus is a banker. A very successful banker. He is the head of the Grameen Bank in India. He is also an extraordinary human being. He is a hero to me (and I have very…very…few heroes).
Mr. Yunus asked a simple question: “Why do we lend money only to the rich…and not the poor, the very people who need money the most
?” From that simple, humble, logical question came a new way of doing business: “micro-credit
” (a.k.a. “micro-finance
”). It has been a breathtaking success. The Grameen Bank, to date, has lent several billion
dollars to individuals as venture capital, allowing those people to start businesses, new enterprises and start-up ventures that raised their standard of living, brought them out of poverty, provided jobs for others.
These loans have been small, no more than several thousand dollars each, at most, but…they have made all the difference in the world. And the amazing thing is: not a single loan has gone into default! Really. Donald Trump has declared bankruptcy, what? Twice? Trump has stiffed his creditors for billions. Yet, he’s an American hero. Sorry. Count me out. Mr. Yunus is my hero. He has lent billions to the poorest of the poor, and he has been repaid every cent…plus interest. And in so doing, he has lifted millions of people out of abject poverty.
Here’s what the Nobel Prize Committee said about Mr. Yunus and the Grameen Bank:
“Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings three decades ago, Yunus has, first and foremost through Grameen Bank, developed micro-credit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty. Grameen Bank has been a source of ideas and models for the many institutions in the field of micro-credit that have sprung up around the world.
Every single individual on earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life. Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development.
Micro-credit has proved to be an important liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions. Economic growth and political democracy can not achieve their full potential unless the female half of humanity participates on an equal footing with the male.
Yunus's long-term vision is to eliminate poverty in the world. That vision can not be realised by means of micro-credit alone. But Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that, in the continuing efforts to achieve it, micro-credit must play a major part.”
Mr. Yunus is a personal hero of mine. And I have money, too. I will, henceforth, be a venture capitalist.
The Evangelicals preach that we should tithe 10% to the “Church
.” More often than not, the “Church
” is a corporation, a private enterprise, a sweet, sweet lifestyle for some fake “Man of God
., "false prophet"). A pox on them. A pox on all of that. I do not wish to finance mansions, private jets, fancy rainments, mega-churches (with shopping arcades and ice-cream parlors, even!). But I WILL
tithe. This Thanksgiving, I vowed…to myself…and, now, to you…that I will tithe at least 10% of my good fortune to my fellow human beings. I vow to share my good fortune with the far less fortunate.I will tithe to humanity.
I vow to become a venture capitalist (and a damn good one, at that).
Furthermore, as the loans are repaid with interest, I will reinvest all monies in additional ventures. I will let the money grow and grow and grow to the benefit of the poor who strive so hard to make a life for themselves and others.
I will be a venture capitalist and I will be damn proud of that.
Here’s the thing. It’s SO
easy!!!!! Did you know that a blessed collection of individuals banded together in San Francisco to create a venue for offering micro-loans to worthy individuals? Yup. A few truly blessed human beings did just that. They banded together, created a network, and harnessed technology to give all of us a chance to become venture capitalists! They created an organization called Kiva
. Here is a link to their site
I hope that at least some of you nameless, faceless (but absolutely beloved) readers take the time to visit Kiva. I hope at least some of you decide to share your personal good fortune with others who seek to make a better life, a better world for himself/herself/others. I hope that both you and they will prosper!
I hope we can all
become successful venture capitalists.
* * *
(OK, OK, I’m stepping off my soapbox, now…)
* * *