LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton said Friday he believes the vast majority of financing for entrepreneurs is going to happen through crowd funding, saying it makes sense as the nation attempts to strengthen its economy.
Clinton made the prediction in Little Rock while helping announce the launch of Kiva City Little Rock, an initiative to connect local entrepreneurs and small business owners to an online community of lenders. It's the latest part of a partnership involving Kiva, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that allows investors to select a micro entrepreneur online and lend as little as $25.
"This is the wave of the future and it might as well be put to use rebuilding the American economy," the former Arkansas governor said.
"What is going to happen, I think, within 10 to 20 years, the vast majority of the financing in the world for nearly everything is going to happen through crowd funding," he added.
Things are already heading that way as the microcredit movement, which began more than three decades ago in Bangladesh, increasingly finds a home in the United States.
The Little Rock program is the latest part of the Kiva City Initiative, a partnership between Kiva and Visa that launched at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in 2011. It expands the availability of microloans for local small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
"We in central Arkansas are going to be given the chance to be part of building a whole system of credit for America, a 21st century version of what made us great in the first place," Clinton said.
To that end, a handful of borrowers showed off their wares at the Clinton Presidential Center where the former president and Arkansas native spoke on Friday.
Next to a cheese maker's table, Lauren Embree displayed some of her jewelry and praised Kiva.
"A really great opportunity that Kiva provides is a connection with people worldwide that you otherwise wouldn't have," said Embree, 27, who wants to borrow $7,000 to get her collection on the shelves of more boutiques across the country.
There are more than 69,000 small businesses in the Little Rock region that employ more than 300,000 people.
"We cannot rebuild this economy again in the world we're living in without a funding source that makes sense," Clinton said.
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