A microcredit co-op bank has sprung up in Northern California, using money pooled from hardware hackers to fund other open source hardware hacking projects. They've found 70 lenders,
Two open source hardware enthusiasts, Justin Huynh and Matt Stack, have started the Open Source Hardware Bank to fund hardware projects such as the microcontroller board pictured above.
The fledgling bank is funding only open source hardware projects using capital raised from other hardware geeks. It's like a community of Facebook friends borrowing and lending among themselves – a peer-to-peer bank.
"This speaks to the rise of the do-it-yourselfer, someone who is not just a consumer but also a producer, inventor and investor," says Huynh. "But someone also ought to be thinking about the money problem when it comes to open source hardware and we are doing just that."
So, this is a major plot element of my science fiction novel Makers, coming from Tor next October: microcredit-funded open source hardware hackers laboring in dead malls (the first third of the book was syndicated on Salon as "Themepunks"). It's always a little weird when sf starts to leak into reality.