Here's a neat and tax-free trick. You can raise capital and customers if you follow the example of a small Australian retail bank, Bendigo. Just as Sam Walton created the Wal-Mart mammoth out of markets that the big boys shunned, so Bendigo seeks out rural communities unwanted by bigger bankers. If local leaders lend their support, the business case is made, followed by a public vote, the appointment of local directors and a dollars 278,000 sale of shares in this single-branch franchise. The shareholders don't expect quick returns, according to Boston Consulting Group; instead, they see their subscription as a fee for much-wanted service. The innovation is so successful that little Bendigo won't be little much longer: revenues have more than doubled in four years.
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