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Anonymous Investors Offer a Lending Alternative On peer-to-peer lending website Prosper, anonymous users raise money from anonymous investors, Kickstarter-style.

By Michelle Goodman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Mari Alstin knew the $10,000 she had in savings and credit wouldn't be enough to open her women's clothing boutique. To cover the cost of rent, a security deposit, displays and inventory, she needed an additional $15,000--fast. Waiting on a bank loan was out of the question, and her credit card limit wasn't high enough to cover her expenses.

The Philadelphia-based entrepreneur had previously used the peer-to-peer lending website Prosper to finance a home-improvement project and consolidate her credit cards. On the site, anonymous users raise money from anonymous investors, Kickstarter-style. Depending on a borrower's creditworthiness and other factors, interest rates can run from about 6.5 percent to nearly 36 percent. Despite this, Alstin had no trouble paying off her two previous Prosper loans. So she decided to give the site a shot for funding her business.

In May, one week after posting an anonymous description of her entrepreneurial project on Prosper, Alstin raised the full $15,000, and the cash was deposited into her checking account the next business day.