MAKE A difference with your dollars. Thatâs the idea that Steve Rockefeller of Deutsche Bank Private Investing was promoting recently in Bermuda. Appleby, Spurling & Kempe sponsored the event. Micro-credit financing is making a little bit of money go a long way and have a big impact. This financing can prime the credit pump and provide needed capital for projects that can assist people around the globe. In return, investors receive a return on their devoted capital.

This is not a charity. It is an investment, with competitive potential investment returns. Rockefeller presented two micro-credit investment prospects to an audience at the National Gallery. One is an opportunity for a direct investment with the Grameen Bank, structured with a 10 per cent dividend over eight-to-10 years. The other is a private placement investment in B-shares of Voxiva, a digital solutions provider. Voxiva could either go public in the future or be bought out by a larger telecommunications provider.

To date, some $300 million has been pooled to provide over $600 million in micro-loans as part of the Deutsche Bank Wealth Creation Initiative. In India, the micro financing is leveraged 1:10, where $250,000 has resulted in $2.5 million in loans. According to Rockefeller, loans of only $2.50 per family could lift them out of poverty in four years.

Sharmi Sobhan is the programme officer of the Grameen Bank Replication Programme. Its offices are in Washington D.C. as part of the Grameen Foundation. Sobhan told the Bermuda audience that grant funding will not work. There are committed local people who donât want a hand out. They want to work, but require reasonable rates on the money they borrow. The current commercial rate is 14-16 per cent. Certain lending bodies can charge up to 20 per cent. Borrowing becomes too exorbitant at that rate.

On the other hand, governments cannot meet the credit needs of their populations either. They tend to over-regulate, Sobhan said. Micro-credit financing organizations can be decentralized to better cover the localities. These decentralized financing organizations can be more efficient and have lower administrative expenses. Yet, these micro-credit organizations are audited and there are regular site visits. Credit rating agencies also rate the financial strength of the micro-credit financing organizations.

The replication programme represents the interests of investors, Sobhan said. They have a responsibility to show the wealthy what can be done with a family legacy. Micro-financing capital has grown $15 million to $30 million over the last couple of years. The lending infrastructure is in place to make the loans and collect the interest payments. Grameen works primarily in India, but there are other organizations devoted to Nepal, the Phillipines and Mexico. Sobhan can be reached at ssobhan@gfusa.org or (202) 628-3560 ext. 104.

Paul Meyer, CEO of Voxiva in New York, was recognized as a Senior Fellow at the Markle Foundation due to his humanitarian technology projects in Africa and the Balkans. He has applied his law degree from Yale and Economics education at Oxford to devise solutions for developing countries. He developed a wireless communications network in Kosovo to help restore the countryâs communication facilities. Another significant project is the Alerta disease alert and reporting system in Latin America, which has been adopted by a medical facility in the U.S. Meyer claims that traditional charities cannot reach the necessary scale to have a significant impact. They do not have a business model, nor can raise the required capital. Meyer realizes that telecommunications in developing countries can be employed to solve some of their systemic problems. Voxiva has forged partnerships with the likes of Telefonica, Microsoft and IBM. The firm also works with the UN Development Programme, World Bank, USAID and World Health Organization.

Voxiva receives revenues from sales and licensing agreements with resellers like Telefonica. The licence fees are received for the support and maintenance of the software, training and customization of digital applications. It is seeking $3 million in preferred financing to continue product development. Some $2 million has already been committed. Additional investments are sought, with a minimum of $250,000. More information can be obtained by contacting Meyer at paul@voxiva.net or 212-462-4002.

Patrice Horner is vice president with Osprey Investments, a division of Anchor Investment Management Ltd. She holds an MBA in Finance and a NASD Series 7 Licence. Horner is also a Certified Financial Planner and

member of the Financial Planning Association.