December 2007


Today I got an e-mail fwd from my friend Liza. It was a funny mail about the Angkasawan (Spaceman) project in Malaysia. Hope you like it.

#1 MALAYSIAN ASTRONAUTS

American Spaceman is called Astronaut
Russian Spaceman is called Cosmonaut
Chinese Spaceman is called Taikonaut (because astronaut in chinese is called ‘Tai Kong Ren” or ‘space man’)
Malaysian Spaceman??? – Can-or-naut

#2 Datuk Najib was thinking about sending somebody into space. Three potential can-or-nauts were called for an interview – one Indian, one Malay and one Chinese.

Najib interviews the Indian first: “So, Muthu, this is a dangerous mission. How much do you think you should be paid?”

Muthu replied: “Ten million ringgit.”

“Why so much?” asks Najib.

“Very dangerous mission, Datuk. Maybe no come back!” replied Muthu.

“That’s understandable,” says Najib. “Thank you… Please ask the Malay guy to come in”

So the Malay walks up, and is asked the same question.

“Alamak!…20 million, Datuk,” replied the Malay candidate.

“Twenty million? That’s twice as much! Even the aneh before you asked for only ten million.”

“You see, Datuk,” explains Mat, “I have 4 wives and 15 children … With 20 of us, it is a big family to support when I am gone…!”

“I see,” says D.Najib. “Okay, can you ask that Chinese guy to come in then?”

The Chinese guy comes in and Najib asks, “Ah Chong, given this is a very risky mission, how much do you want?”

Ah Chong thinks for a while, and says, “30 million.”

Najib appears shocked. “What?!? 30 million! Why so much?”

Ah Chong beckons Najib to come closer. He quietly whispers into his ear… “Datuk, you take 10 million, I take 10 million, and then use the extra ten million and send that aneh to space lah!”

And… Muthu was finally sent out to space….

Note: Aneh = ‘Anna’ tamil word meaning elder brother.

What would you do if you knew that you have only 3-4 months left to live?? If you ask me I think I will freak out and panick may be I might try to be more pious… may be do more good deeds… may be do all the things I wanted to do but never did. I have always heard the saying – “The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind” and Mr. Randy Pausch has personified it. Recently I was reading this article and it made me reconsider my priorities in life. This is the link to the Business week article about this you tube sensation who’s life is to be covered in a book and a movie too.

Online auction giant eBay has launched a microlending website that lets people invest in entrepreneurs in poor communities around the world and get a return on their money. Unlike micro-finance organizations that make interest-free loans to people in developing countries, Microplace.com offers investors profits for funding folks trying to build better lives, said founder Tracey Turner.

“You are actually investing in the world’s working poor,” Turner told AFP. “And for the first time you get a return on investment. You can take the profit and invest in more people in a virtuous cycle.”

Turner’s vision of MicroPlace began taking shape in 2005, after she lived for a time with a Kenyan family comprised of a single mother caring for three children.

The Kenyan woman bought a sewing machine with 100 dollars she borrowed and started an in-home business making school uniforms for local children.

The woman paid the debt and managed to send one of her sons to college in the United States.

“When you are out in the field talking to these women whose lives are transformed because of 30 dollars or 10 dollars, then you are part of the movement forever,” Turner said.

California-based eBay bought Turner’s business plan in June of 2006 and the website launched October 24 of this year.

Website visitors can browse investors by country, seeing pictures of people seeking loans and reading about their business goals.

MicroPlace connects investors with micro-finance organizations in the various countries. MicroPlace scrutinizes the organizations to check their legitimacy.

Turner said rates of return are modest but that investors at the website see value in addressing global poverty. Lenders shoulder the risk that loans will not be repaid.

“The eye-opening thing for everyone is that repayment rates by the working poor remain unbelievably high, north of 98 percent,” Turner said.

Thousands of people visit the website daily and hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans have already been issued, according to MicroPlace. In keeping with the holidays, some have made gifts of loans by issuing in others’ names.

“What gets me out of bed in the morning is the idea that when you invest in a person it really honors them and enhances their dignity as a human being,” Turner said. “Which is different than a hand out.”

MicroPlace gets fees from microfinance organizations that get money through the website. Money is moved through online financial-transactions firm PayPal, which eBay owns.

“I think it is important everyone from the investor to the person making baskets in a village makes a profit,” Turner said. “The beauty and magic of micro-finance is that it is scalable. That is the only way it will scale.”

EBay has promised that any profits made by MicroPlace will be invested in other initiatives for social good, according to Turner.

EBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife have channeled hundreds of millions of dollars into microloans through their own foundation and are investors in online microlending website Kiva.

Kiva specializes in connecting altruistic lenders with aspiring business people in developing countries.

In 2008, Kiva plans to begin offering modest interest rates on loans, which at present are interest-free.

“The industry is growing like crazy right now,” Turner said. “It is a new kind of asset class. It is a wise investment.”

Courtesy : Yahoo News