Hi Erik, first of all thank you for participating. Can you start out by telling us a little about yourself and your motivation for using MYC4?
Through all their life my parents were part of a group supporting two persons from the group that became missionaries, one working in Africa and another in Bangladesh. Therefore the idea of helping in Africa was obvious to me. So when I got the possibility to do my national service as a volunteer in Africa I went 3 years to Zambia teaching in a Secondary School far out in the bush in Mwinilunga.
On top of that I have worked with computers my whole life since I first programmed a Gier computer at Århus University 48 years ago. All my life I have been interested in the idea that computers are an instrument that should help us to better lives.
Therefore, when I heard of this initiative it was simply a must for me to participate.
At the same time I am hooked upon the idea of transparency which was and is rather high in MYC4.
You are an early investor and have used MYC4 through ups and downs, what has influenced you to still use MYC4?
As I said before my primary goal was not to earn a lot of money investing in MYC4, it was the interest in supporting the idea which I felt quite right and fairly good implemented.
On the other hand I would not spend 12000 euro if I did not have a hope of getting the money back possibly with some interest.
During all the years I have been very conscious of the big risk at this project. Of course I knew of the risk and had considered it carefully. Generally I had 3 types of risk in consideration: risk at the single business in Africa, risk at the provider, and risk at MYC4. In the beginning of my investment I was most afraid of the risk that MYC4 itself should collapse, because then I would have no possibility to claim my money back from all the different loaners.
But I probably accepted that risk because I knew about the Kjær Auto in Svendborg from my time in Zambia and felt rightly that they were some kind of the initiators.
So my loss of 3000 euro in the “bad” period was partly calculated and could not get me to stop. I would not like to lose all the money of course, but I could live with it if it should happen. I am still eager to help prove that MYC4 is a good idea. So I still have on my monthly budget to put some new money into MYC4.
My strategy of investment during this period has changed quite much. The criteria been: mainly small business, mainly education, mainly agriculture, looking at the collateral, and now mainly looking at the interest at the same time as I want many businesses’ to get loan and still I prefer either education or a kind of production in farming or craft or industry.
If you should present MYC4 to someone who had never heard about us before, what would you emphasize?
It is a little difficult, I rarely try to persuade my friends, it is not ethical with a risk of that size, but I often tell what I do myself and why I do it, just as I have done above. And a few times I have given an investment as a gift, once to a guy that has been very active making software for schools online before we knew about the internet.
What do you think is some of the best things that have happened on MYC4 through the years?
It can only be that MYC4 has more control with the providers, and help them to perform better with less loss. Without that you could never get people to invest or give gifts for that matter. You did see yourself the huge drop in investments after all the defaults. So both for MYC4, the loaners and me it was a great thing to happen.
But of course all the small changes make a difference too: The possibility to want a certain interest but accept an interest 5% lower if necessary to get the loan closed. And the newly change where the automatic bids only fill up loans until they are secured and then continue filling up the next loans that need funds.
If you could tell everyone about one aspect in relation to MYC4, critical or positive, what would you tell about?
Of course I would tell about the fairly good transparency, although I could wish that it was easier to follow each single loaner, but I am fully aware that it is not possibly today. It will take too much energy to implement and I can live without it, but I look forward to the day where several loaners get good internet and by themselves and for themselves want to communicate their problems and fortunes in a kind of intranet of MYC4, then we might even get exchange of knowledge about the problems and involvement in the problems leading to default . But I also know that it is a very difficult issue because it is not only a problem of time of the loaner, it is also a problem of my time, the time of the lender. I do not have time to follow all the loaners when I only lend out 50 euro to each. It is for the same reason I am not active on Facebook. I have actually studied that issue thoroughly in connection with discussions in net based learning where both the writer and the readers must have enough time for engaging in a discussion.
I might mention one other aspect with MYC4 that is remarkably: It is possible to have investors together with persons that will help without wanting interest or just a minor interest. Today there are mainly investors and that is necessary if you want a big impact, but you still find the others providing money for very little interest and you find quite many that want a reasonably interest, but also want as many projects to be financed as possible.
One thing has puzzled me: MYC4 tries to be very transparent. Then why are so many persons investing anonymous? It also goes against the trend of putting everything on the internet via one or all of the social medias. Is it still a taboo to talk about money and show what you spend?
What do you consider as competitors/alternatives to MYC4?
I have always given donations to some organizations regularly, but as that is a gift I do not give so much money. (My budget for that is merely 15 euro a month to 5-6 organizations each and it has not changed after investing in MYC4). It has been a question for me if I should drop some of those and invest more in MYC4 instead, but I decided not to.
Some years ago I also gave money to a system like MYC4 but where it was donations to specific projects and specific organizations and it was all done on the internet. I do not remember the name but it never became very big so I left that project.
I have also considered a bank that has projects in Africa (Oikos) but I felt it too difficult to follow the money, I would not be able to follow the money as close as in MYC4.
And then there is also the possibility to invest directly into projects and persons I know personally. And I have done that in minor scale to a friend in Malawi employed at a university where I taught for 5 month 2 years ago.
What do you think MYC4 will look like in the future?
I am confident that MYC4 as an idea will continue to grow and there will be more interaction between lender and borrower, but if some other groups with the same idea will take over MYC4 is difficult to foresee. And it is impossible to know if MYC4 will be the bigger one and take over others. But I do not care much who the owner is, as long as the African people benefit. From the yearly account it is obvious that MYC4 has to grow to survive. We can just hope that the routines to control loss are robust and can work even when they are managed by different persons in a bigger scale.
And I am sure that we see the development in Africa that we have been waiting for in many years, and that will not stop, so there will be a need for funds to small projects in many years to come. And MYC4 is a good alternative supplier.