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Clinton Global Initiative Kicks Off In Chicago

Thursday, June 30, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - Former President Bill Clinton will be in Chicago for the next two days to lead the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America conference. It will be attended by a who’s who list of influential individuals around the country, nearly 700 in all. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner (who recently testified at a hearing Jaimie attended), and Mayor of Chicago and former Clinton and Obama aide Rahm Emanuel, will be there. Governors and mayors from all around the country are also scheduled to attend, along with startup founders like Tony Hsieh of Zappos.



Founded in 2005, the Clinton Global has focused mostly on international challenges so far, and this meeting is the first focused exclusively on domestic concerns. The major topic of discussion: Jobs.




In a
conference call prior to the meeting, Clinton said the conference will discuss ways to strengthen American industries, unlock more capital for innovation, advance energy efficiency, build clean energy infrastructure, and train Americans for the 21st century workforce. Clinton added that political gridlock over the budget in Washington means there will be no more stimulus plans in the foreseeable future, and that more private efforts are needed to spur hiring.



CGI works by bringing global leaders together in order to find innovative solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. During past CGI conferences, various commitments have been made by these leaders that have already improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries, according to the
CGI website. Past conferences have been attended by more than 150 current and former heads of states and 18 Nobel Prize recipients.



Already, commitments and partnerships are being announced. Today, President Clinton
announced Kiva City, a partnership between Kiva, the microlending website, and Visa. The program aims to expand opportunities for American small businesses to benefit from microloans. Kiva City will partner with financial institutions at a local level to facilitate microloans while working with community and civic leaders to increase awareness among small-business owners about how microloans work. One major city has already kicked off with the program: Detroit.



Microlending is the act of connecting entrepreneurs with pools of lenders who contribute as little as $25 each, according to
this blog post on The Wall Street Journal. The loans, which range from as little as $1,000 to as much as $200,000, are used to pay for rent, buy equipment or cover other daily operations.



Meet
Jeanett Lynn, a full-time business analyst who decided to start her own personal assistant/concierge business on the side. Because she cares about the importance of protecting her business and her clients, she needed funds to obtain legal documents so that she's protected and her clients know what to expect. Working with ACCION USA, a Kiva partner, Jeanette was able to use a loan of $2,150 to purchase a computer, file legal documents and receive training. Her goal is now to expand her business by 50 percent in the next year.


The good thing about microfinance loans is that microfinance institutions look beyond just your credit report and score. They evaluate your entire application – not just by crunching numbers but also by accessing your business’ potential and offering ways to help. With many of the self-employed going as far as dipping into their credit card accounts in order to stay afloat, perhaps a microfinance loan can be an alternative source of funding to look into.


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