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September 27, 2007

Vote for the Winner of Project Enterprise

Our expert judges helped us whittle down our amazing array of Project Enterprise Contest nominations to just four worthy finalists. We asked Lucy Bernholz, the president of the philanthropy consulting firm Blueprint Research & Design, who also writes Philanthropy2173; Paul Ellis, a financial advisor who specializes in socially responsible investing; and Beverly Schwartz of Ashoka to score the nominees on innovation and sustainability, among other criteria. Now, we need your help choosing the winner. Follow this link to learn more about the finalists and choose your favorite: http://www.pbs.org/now/enterprisingideas/poll.html Vote today!

A winner will be announced in early November.

September 25, 2007

Compartamos Close-Up

The online video of NOW's investigation into Mexican microcredit giant Compartamos is available for viewing. Click here to watch the show, featuring interviews with Compartamos founders, their satisfied customers—and critic, Muhammad Yunus. After the show aired on September 21, some viewers denounced Compartamos as unethical, while others said that other microcredit organizations should move into Mexico and compete with them by offering lower interest rates.

September 21, 2007

Watch it: The Giving Channel

Bill Clinton, the Google founders, Jacqueline Novogratz and a lot of equally smart people you may not have heard of. They're all at The Giving Channel -- the new place online to watch leaders in the field talk about philanthropy, entrepreneurship and the business of giving. The Giving Channel features videos of people talking about the "changing nature and roles of philanthropy in our global society." Have you tuned in? What did you think? Comment below in our comment form.

September 18, 2007

Friday Night: Selling Out or Scaling Up?

NOW's next show in our Enterprising Ideas series takes a hard look at microfinance and the controversy surrounding a successful social entrepreneur in Mexico. Compartamos is a microfinance company that started out lending small sums of money to poor, indigenous Mexican women to start businesses. Today it's a for-profit bank with more than 600,000 clients in Mexico. NOW interviews people who passionately believe their lives have been transformed by the loan they received from Compartamos. Our production team also talks to critics of Compartamos, including Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered the microfinance approach to helping people out of poverty. NOW airs at 8:30 p.m. on Friday nights. UPDATE: Click here to watch NOW's report online.

Among other complaints, the critics charge the bank's interest rates are way too high. This criticism has been leveled against other microfinance operations, as discussed in an earlier blog here. If you miss Friday night's episode, you can watch it later online. Check back here for a link.