Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Uncrunch America: Solve the credit crisis from the bottom up through social lending

Twenty-five year old entrepreneur Scott Krager has earned over 6,000 votes for his idea on change.org to solve the credit crisis from the bottom up through social lending. In the first round of voting it placed 2nd in the social entrepreneur category.

On Friday, Change.org will co-host an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to announce the top 10 rated ideas and plans for supporting the formation of a national advocacy campaign behind each idea. Krager's social lending idea is currently in 18th Place and needs 3,779 more votes to be among the final 10 ideas.

We interviewed Krager to find out more about uncrunch.org and his ideas to promote social lending.


What is your background and what inspired Uncrunch America?

I'm a small business owner myself. I know how valuable credit is to many small businesses. I've been following this space for the last few years. Kiva is what originally attracted me to the whole social lending niche, and then Prosper and Lending Club.

What is Uncrunch America and what do you hope to accomplish?

Uncrunch America is an organization that came out of a simple idea from Tobin Smith (leading equity and economic researcher, author and commentator) to 'uncrunch' the consumer credit markets for deserving, credit worthy Americans by promoting "social lending" networks and other web 2.0 financial education and management tools.

I fell in love with the idea and their website, and approached approached them with the proposal of promoting them by signing them up on change.org's voting contest: Top 10 ideas for Change in America.

My goal was to build awareness around social lending, gain the support of the Obama administration, and convince the government to match funds. Uncrunch.org supporters believe this is the most efficient way to put government funds to work for the people, not financial institution profits.

Who is behind Uncrunch America?

Tobin Smith and his organization ChangeWave, along with Lending Club, Credit Karma, Geezeo and OnDeck Capital.

How did you bring all the supporters together behind Uncrunch America?

I didn't personally. I signed up for change.org and submitted and promoted the idea. The founding companies have since reached out to their customers and followers to build support for the idea as well.

What has the reception been like so far for Uncrunch America?

So far, it has gotten amazing traction and I think it's because of how timely this idea is to the current credit crisis. First it made it to the second spot in the first round of voting with a few hundred votes. Now, it is in the 21st position (out of 90) in the second round of voting with 4 days left. I really thing it has a great chance of making it to the top 10.

What are Uncrunch America's biggest challenges?

The immediate challenge is to make it to the top 10 on change.org. Whether they accomplish this or not, I think their next challenge is to gain traction and get the message out there. Uncrunch will be promoted by all its partners, similar to the (RED) campaign, so it is critical that they get more supporters, and the message does not get lost in the noise.

What future plans does Uncrunch America have?

Unrcunch America will be launching a campaign to get their idea out there. In the process, they will be recruiting more members to help in this endeavor. I think it is a great initiative and hope they succeed.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Vote, vote, vote. With only 3 days left to vote, I hope your readers click here and submit their vote for this idea. Making to the top 10 will be a great push for social lending in the US, and a great way to get attention from the incoming administration.

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