investing

6 alternative investments for fat returns

Microloans for good
Microloans for good

Want a feel-good, higher-yielding alternative investment? Microloans may be for you.

These fixed-interest loans are made to small-business owners in developing countries. Microlending sites such as MicroPlace, an eBay subsidiary, match lenders and borrowers across the world. And you can reap high yields, too. At MicroPlace, yields range from 1 percent to 6 percent annually, easily besting certificates of deposit or money market accounts. Minimum investments are small -- only $20.

"We aggregate lots of investors to raise lots of money," says Ashwini Narayanan, general manager at MicroPlace. "It's a smart way to be philanthropic."

Investors can choose a specific country, cause or company for their investment. And in four years, no issuer has defaulted, says Narayanan. There are 11,500 investors in the U.S., and there are recipients in 65 countries.

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