eBay-backed social finance platform shuts after failing to reach scale

MicroPlace fails to gain hoped-for widespread social impact

MicroPlace, a social investment and microfinance platform backed by Internet auction giant eBay, has shut to new investments after failing to achieve the hoped-for scale.

The platform, targeted at individual investors and launched in 2007, aimed to facilitate investments that “create positive social and economic impact, while earning a financial return”. During its life it had enabled $58m of investments but says it has not had the planned social impact.

“While proud of our results, they haven’t scaled to the widespread social impact we aspire to achieve through all our business efforts,” said General Manager Art Stevens, a former Vice President at the Calvert Foundation who took over from Ashwini Narayanan in 2012.

The move was effective earlier this year. All existing investments will continue to be serviced until theymature or are redeemed, MicroPlace says – adding that the decision is not related to the financial health of the ‘issuers’.

These included the Calvert Foundation, FINCA, MicroCredit Enterprises, Oikocredit, Shared Interest and Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN).

The site will continue to run, but investors will no longer be able to reinvest or make new investments.

MicroPlace, a registered broker-dealer, was founded by social entrepreneur Tracey Pettengill Turner in 2006 and sold to eBay the same year.

Stevens went on: “Our parent company, eBay Inc., remains committed to investing in people and creating economic opportunity through our core businesses and our eBay Foundation investments.”

eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is a leading philanthropist who founded the Omidyar Network in 2004.
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