Speaking of the Third World…

For all those who have friends or family members who, instead of receiving an actual gift this Christmas, would be interested in having a charitable donation made in their name, I highly recommend this organization: Kiva. Not a “charity” in the traditional sense, it’s a mechanism by which donors extend small loans to entrepreneurs in impoverished countries all over the world. The neat part is that you can choose the entrepreneur and the business you’d like to lend to, be it a health clinic, a dress shop, a farm or…a bakery! Designed as it is to get people (and broader economies) up and their feet and generating their own wealth, it’s a charity an entrepreneur like me can really get behind. Loans are extended at zero interest and are eventually paid back, allowing the donor to reinvest in another business should they wish to. Kiva is basically an extension of the “microcredit” concept that has proven so successful over the past several decades (especially with women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh), though to my mind no organization has yet been able to personalize lending so effectively.

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