Rule Breaker Mailbag: On Microcredit, Entrepreneurship, and America's Unbanked

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Philanthropy is deep in the DNA of The Motley Fool -- the organization is not just about making money; it's also about helping people. So the suggestion from a listener that the Fool might want to form a foundation that offered loans and mentorship to the poor and unbanked so they could start small businesses fits right in with that. And it was a good jumping-off point for David Gardner to talk a bit about conscious capitalism, entrepreneurship, and Foolanthropy, which is what he does in this segment from the Rule Breaker Investing podcast.

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A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Dec. 27, 2017.

David Gardner: Mailbag item No. 4: All right. So I'm going to get to talk about a New Year's resolution or two in a few minutes, but first I want to present my final Mailbag item for this podcast. This one comes from another guy, but his name is Kevin. Kevin A. from San Antonio, Texas.

"I'm a longtime listener and fan," Kevin writes. "I recently met a financially challenged neighbor in my community who is a member of the unbanked." Again, this is in San Antonio, Texas. "She decided to leave her job working for an abusive boss and committed herself to start a small business in dog grooming, thereby serving her love of animals. As it happens, I had recently tried my own hand at grooming as a money-saving strategy, giving me some personal insight into the skill required to do this well. Sorry to my three dogs," Kevin adds.

"Ultimately, I decided to provide a personal loan to my friend to start the business, as small business in America is the greatest engine of wealth creation ever conceived. I am interested to see whether providing start-up capital to a motivated member of the unbanked could lift her out of poverty through entrepreneurship. As the business is still in formation, time will tell the score, but this has raised my awareness of how the unbanked are able to participate in the modern economy using only electronic payment platforms, as well as the critical role of access to business capital, in addressing poverty.

"I know you conduct Foolanthropy every year, and if you don't already, I would like to humbly suggest creating a foundation to provide loans and mentorship to the unbanked poor to improve themselves and their communities by starting small businesses." Kevin Akers, San Antonio, Texas.

Thank you, Kevin! You know, we have done some work in the past with Foolanthropy. Past partners and nominees for our Foolanthropy Charity of the Year have been microcredit loaning organizations. Certainly Grameen. The Grameen foundation was an early Foolanthropy partner. Mohammed Yunus, who I think won the Nobel Peace Prize, is a great example in Bangladesh of the power of what you're describing.

And while many of us may imagine that Bangladesh, with all the poverty it has, would be an ideal place for it, and it probably is, microcredit and microlending is happening globally. And what I think is great is that you made it local, because you're talking about microcredit in your own neighborhood, finding somebody that you deem admirable -- and she sounds admirable -- in a tough situation. She's going to make the best of it, and she's going to start a business.

And we love that. And part of why I love conscious capitalism is because it grows out of a belief that by starting businesses, entrepreneurs, large and small, are trying to make the world better, and the ones that have a strong heart as well as a strong mind, those add immeasurable value to our world.

I really appreciate your point about small business in America being the greatest engine of wealth creation ever conceived. I agree with you. We had the largest GDP of any country that's ever existed over the past year, and while there are some other big countries, like China, that may come along and in time even supersede America's GDP, we'll see. If that were to happen, I think that's awesome. I want every country in the world -- I bet you do, too -- to add value. To be places where people can start businesses.

A lot of the theming of conscious capitalism is that the unacknowledged heroes in our society are often the entrepreneurs -- again, big and small. They're creating most of the jobs that are created. And businesses that do well reward all their stakeholders -- their shareholders as well as their customers, as well as their employees, and their partners and suppliers, and their community at large.

So good for you, Kevin! Good on ya! I'm glad to share your Mailbag item, here. I think it's perfect for this time of year, so it's my delight to share it. I also appreciate that you're not talking about it as a fairy-tale ending. You're talking about something that hasn't happened yet, and you're going to see how it works out. Good for you, and keep us apprised!

And I should mention -- and if you're a regular listener you already know this -- that The Motley Fool's Foolanthropy partner this year is All Hands and Hearts. I did an interview with David Campbell -- did I just say somebody else named Dave? Did I do an interview with Dave Campbell last week? I did. That was a Rule Breakers extra for last weekend. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Dave Campbell.

And I hope you'll take a look at Give.Fool.com. Sign into our site. Consider sending off a check or volunteer. Get involved with Foolanthropy. It's wonderful to see the Motley Fool community come together every year, at the end of the year, to give away money. We have given away, through our members, millions of dollars over the course of the last 20 years. It's a remarkable, not-often-told story what Foolanthropy does, and we're excited about All Hands and Hearts, and all of the other great charitable causes out there. So thank you, Dave!

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