Category Archives: Random

There’s more oil and local gin in Benin City, Nigeria

I’m pleased to share the news that Dorcas Omokaro has fully repaid her microloan on Kiva. As you may recall, she was my first Kiva microloan, a Nigerian mother of five who sells palm oil and gin. My great hope is that the kids don’t email me in ten years about a vast fortune or with an offer to buy the thing I’m selling on Craigslist. No, they’ll be mixing gin tonics, Pegus, and classic martinis in a bar down the road from their mother’s off-license.

Nora Rosa Rodríguez Rodríguez and Lan Thi Nguyen have now repaid 33% and 67% respectively. Ali just received his funds, so you’ll hear updates about him in the future.

I haven’t picked my next entrepreneur yet. I’m hoping to keep the money widely distributed, so I’ll be looking for another opportunity in Africa, preferably with a funny name to boot. Drop me a comment if you see something interesting.

Sales tax and stimulus in Taiwan

Just a couple of loosely-related things that were interesting in Taiwan.

A bi-monthly lottery encourages people to ask for their sales receipt (and thus pay sales tax). All sales receipts are printed/embossed with a number and an official seal. Like most lotteries here, there’s a grand prize for matching all numbers and lesser prizes for partial matches.

Originally posted on flickr by shimmertje.

They recently rolled out an economic stimulus program intended to get people shopping. People were issued vouchers that could only be used for purchases (no saving!) and excluded certain items like alcohol and cigarettes. The expiration date on the vouchers ensure that the stimulus is fully injected into the economy by a certain date. It’s not cheap; each voucher has the security and anti-counterfeiting features of money.

The Missus

I think most people who meet Emily are often surprised because … how to put this? Well, they think I’m an anti-social ass, and she strikes them as the opposite of an anti-social ass.

It’s not uncommon for people to make remarks that dance delicately around this main point. They show considerable restraint in not inserting the word “actually” in the phrase “You’re wife is cool” between the words “is” and “cool.”

What they don’t realize is two important things:

1. She eats all the time. 35% of my take-home pay goes toward feeding the girl. Emily at work:

2. She is very lazy. the following is actually such a common occurrence that I don’t bother taking photos of it anymore:

You see? I’m a much better man than you think.

Kiva microlending

Kiva’s a non-profit that tries to match people with money with people who need money, typically entrepreneurs in developing countries who need a small loan to buy raw materials or equipment for their business. The default rate on these loans is extremely low since local micro-lending institutions or organizations typically perform a lot of due dilligence into the applicant.

Anyway, I loaned out a few dollars and Kiva suggested I sent this email to my friends. I’ll just post it here instead:


I just made a loan to someone in the developing world using a revolutionary new website called Kiva.

You can go to Kiva’s website and lend to someone in the developing world who needs a loan for their business – like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks. Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent – and you get updates letting you know how the entrepreneur is going.

The best part is, when the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back – and Kiva’s loans are managed by microfinance institutions on the ground who have a lot of experience doing this, so you can trust that your money is being handled responsibly.

I just made a loan to an entrepreneur named Lan Thi Nguyen in Viet Nam. They still need another $500.00 to complete their loan request of $825.00 (you can loan as little as $25.00!). Help me get this entrepreneur off the ground by clicking on the link below to make a loan to Lan Thi Nguyen too:

It’s finally easy to actually do something about poverty – using Kiva I know exactly who my money is loaned to and what they’re using it for. And most of all, I know that I’m helping them build a
sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after my loan is paid back.

Join me in changing the world – one loan at a time.


What others are saying about

‘Revolutionising how donors and lenders in the US are connecting with small entrepreneurs in developing countries.’

‘If you’ve got 25 bucks, a PC and a PayPal account, you’ve now got the wherewithal to be an international financier.’
— CNN Money

‘Smaller investors can make loans of as little as $25 to specific individual entrepreneurs through a service launched last fall by’
— The Wall Street Journal

‘An inexpensive feel-good investment opportunity…All loaned funds go directly to the applicants, and most loans are repaid in full.’
— Entrepreneur Magazine

I also gave money to this woman, almost based on the name alone:

Dorcas Omokaro


“Dorcas Omokaro is 40 years old, married with 5 children. She sells local gin and palm oil. She hails from Edo State, Nigeria and needs a loan $350 to buy more palm oil to sell. She thanks you.”

Maybe with this loan her children can grow up to be booze-slingers instead of Nigerian scammers.

The Importance of Diversification, Even in Planning

The best quote: “I thought I’d bought a home in Pleasantville,” says Talbot, who moved from New York last year. “I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this would happen.”

Charlotte Observer: New suburbs in fast decay

Foreclosures lead to vacancies and crime

Liz Chandler And Ted Mellnik, Posted on Sun, Dec. 09, 2007

A band of new suburban neighborhoods that held promise for thousands of Charlotte families is now struggling with crime, blight and falling home values.

These neighborhoods were hit hard by the wave of foreclosures rattling the nation. Damage is most visible in starter-home subdivisions across northern Charlotte, and in pockets in the east and southwest.

The best of them show subtle signs: Vacant houses. Overgrown weeds. Trash piled at the curb.

The worst of them already resemble decaying urban neighborhoods that keep police and housing inspectors busy — and cost Charlotte millions to repair.
Continue reading The Importance of Diversification, Even in Planning