When Joe Nocera heard about Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s plan to turn Starbucks customers’ donations into job-creating microloans, he had one thought: “God bless him,” he writes in the New York Times. Sure the government should be tackling this jobs problem, “but with an election coming up, nothing of the sort is likely.” So Schultz took matters into his own hands and had an inspired idea: Using Starbucks’ sheer size to create something like the microloan programs it helps run in coffee-producing countries.
The best part? Customers’ donations won’t just be loaned out, they’ll become capital for “Community Development Financial Institutions,” a group of mostly nonprofit lenders working in underserved communities. They can then leverage that equity 7-to-1, an executive involved tells Nocera—meaning your $5 turns into $35 worth of cash for a job creating business. “With the government and banks unwilling or unable, it’s time we took matters into our own hands,” Nocera argues. “At this point, who else can we count on?” (Read more Joe Nocera stories.)