TED Conversations

Kate Torgovnick May

writer, TED


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What would you do for the world with $1 million?

The TED Prize has entered a new chapter, with this year's winner receiving $1 million dollars to execute their one wish to inspire the world.

This has me thinking: what would you do for the world with the $1 million prize? Answer here and you may see yourself on the TED blog soon.

Want to nominate a mentor, colleague, friend or even yourself for the TED Prize? Nominations are open from now until August 31st at this website:



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  • Aug 10 2012: I like Jan-Bernd Pauli's micro credits for startups in economically underdeveloped countries, which allows people to help themselves.

    Looking at the numbers of people in third world countries one easily realises the need for more money to support more start-ups or humanitarian projects. :)

    Looking at the current financial system in probably all western countries you realise that all it takes
    to have more money to spread out is creating a real bank using the 1 million as initial reserve.
    After founding a real bank you are allowed to create more money out of nothing by giving out loans of up to 10 times more money than used to found it which is called fractional reserve banking.
    Giving that we are not aiming for profit like all the other commercial banks and we do not use any money taken from a central bank at any interest rate > 0, we are not forced to charged intrest as we use our own 1 million, so there is nothing that stops us from lending about 10x our money without charging intrest.

    I also like the implementation of the suggested 'instead rates', an obligation to grant at least one micro credit themselves under the same conditions to help others when the start-up business reached a stable financial situation.

    • Aug 10 2012: I find that most occidental approaches to solve problems is money. This might be true in already developed countries (even if i doubt it), but we cannot simply duplicate our cultural ways of doing to all.
      Even if micro-credit is a proven venture (mainly when given to women, such in Africa), I think it can also be dangerous to always come back to micro-credit as THE solution when it comes to more global approach. Allowme explain my thoughts:

      Firstly, credit is prohibited by a lot of cultures-religions such as Muslim, the biggest population on earth. So right there, micro-credit is a discriminative approach.

      Secondly, in most of this civilizations the individuals that have access to foreign influence (credit, money, etc) are casts that already have the dominance in their community (and not always in a positive way). Access to money has also proven to create more problems then solutions (think Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.)

      Thirdly, but not the least, money (or credit) doesn't do much without knowledge. In the human world we live in, we now know that well intended people are often taken advantage of by more egoist-driven influences with another objective: money.

      So I think money is not the forefront tool to all global problems, human knowledge is...
      • Aug 11 2012: Knowledge transfer (in both / all directions) is most important,
        but I believe that many people here assume and know this has to happen
        and participate in the exchange of knowledge without thinking much about it...

        Micro-credit is seen as an effective solution because it is part of the philosphy to
        help people help thenselves. This help always includes some form of knowledge.

        Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
        Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

        We know from Prof Herzberg that the motivation to help oneself
        (a result of training which created an ability) is not enough,
        but people also require the opportunity to act upon their ability (to fish).
        Here starts the impact of mirco finance as these loans avoid the trap
        of perpetually rising debt by not charging any intrest.

        I can imagine that the unfounded accumulation of wealth by creditors led to
        the prohibition of conventional credit in some of those cultures/religions
        which were/are more future-oriented...

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