At getitnext.com, we try to help people save time and money shopping on the web. Today I'd like to share with you a way that you can help others too, in a way that might surprise you.
I've donated to a variety of charities over the years, but there was always a voice in the back of my head that said "How can I know my money is going to good use?" Charities can be a mixed bag. You hope your money doesn't get wasted on administrative overhead or corrupt officials. But you never really know.
Enter Kiva.org. If you haven't already heard about them on Oprah, the Today Show or other recent publicity, let me introduce you to them. Kiva helps people in developing countries become self-sufficient by providing them with small business loans. The lenders aren't big banks... it's you and me!
The loans are small... between $100 and a few thousand dollars, which is why they're called microloans. This may sound like nothing, but it can go a long way in developing countries and is often enough to help a family beat poverty. You choose how much you want to contribute to the loan, as little as $25!
The simple yet fundamental difference with Kiva is that you loan the money, it's not a handout. There is built-in incentive for the borrowers to make their money work for them so that they can pay the loan back.
Can you trust them? I'll let you read their site for the full answer, but some of the biggest names on the Internet are helping to make Kiva a success, including PayPal, YouTube, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Myspace and more.
I can't believe how simple yet inspired this idea is. It's part of a growing trend of social entrepreneurship, where people use entrepreneurial principles to help social causes.
I made my first loan today to Mrs. Auk Hoin in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. She's helping one of her sons buy blacksmithing equipment to help support the family. By tomorrow she'll have raised enough to buy a metal cutter.
Help someone help themselves. No need for handouts.