Here's a wonderful feel-good story to begin your day. It makes us feel good, anyway, because it combines two of our favorite obsessions: community banks and creative capitalism (remember: the key to creative capitalism is the insight that for-profit ventures can also meet philanthropic ends, and may even be able to do so better than non-profits).
Entrepreneur profiles Emerging Markets Inc., a small business out in Los Angeles. Founded and run by two urban development specialists who, naturally, came out of the non-profit world, Emerging Markets seeks to increase legitimate bank lending into low-income urban neighborhoods. It also seeks to make money. The way it does both is by conducting extensive market research in these various neighborhoods--being sure to go well beyond impersonal metrics and into more holistic considerations such as community politics--and then selling their research to various banks (there's the making money part), who can in turn use it to up their legitimate lending in those areas (there's the doing-good part).
What a lovely synthesis! And it's one that particularly lends itself (pardon the pun!) to community banks, who are much more open to making smaller loans based on more subjective criteria. Indeed, you might say that community banks who branch out to these neighborhoods are engaging in their own brand of creative capitalism as well. Just one more way the nation's small businesses are well-suited to start turning themselves and their country around at the same time.
American Express OPEN brings you the latest insights from noted business authors and experts in our special promotion with Slate BizBox.