When we look at the vast sea of problems in our world, it can be overwhelming to choose where to focus our efforts. There are calls on our home phones asking for donations, there are emails requesting assistance and there are campaigns, natural disasters and requests closer to home. Many people, confused and perhaps, overwhelmed with choice, do little – or only contribute to good causes when the call is resoundingly strong (as happened recently with the bushfires in the Australian state of Victoria).
But recently, sites like Kiva have emerged with innovative micro-financing models designed to bring entrepreneurs in developing countries together with “micro-investors” – like you and me. And from as little as $25, you can begin to build a portfolio of investments in small businesses that have significant local impacts in communities far from where you live.
Some time ago, I invested a small amount of money with Mrs Lê Thị Sách who needed to raise $825 to purchase pigs and stores for her shop in Vietnam. A number of other people loaned her small amounts of money until the total was reached:
On this second year with TYM, she is applying for a loan of 825 USD to buy breeding pigs and grocery stock to sell. Her 2 children are grown up. She hopes that with this loan, she will be able to increase her revenue so she would be able to help her grand children and repair her house.
This loan is now almost 70% repaid – and the balance is now available in my Kiva account – ready for me to withdraw or reinvest.
And while Kiva is a great way to feel like you can make a difference in a tangible way, other people, like Jasmin Tragas go direct. Some time ago, Jasmin started raising funds for an Opportunity International project in The Philippines. This was an effort she took upon herself and continues to follow through in various ways. She has created eBooks, invited people to purchase beautiful photographs and also begun using ChipIn to raise funds for the project on her blog.
The entrepreneurial poor in the Philippines are an incredible bunch of individuals who are rising up out of poverty and circumstances to develop their small businesses. The small banks and organisations like Opportunity International Australia who provide them with the loans, training and programs are equally doing a wonderful thing by creating opportunities to end the poverty cycle and impact whole communities.
At the moment, and only for a few more days, Australian bloggers can help Jasmin raise $1000 for A Woman’s Investment by writing a tribute blog post like this. Each post written will generate a $100 donation from Incentive House – up to a maximum of $1000. Please help by writing, twittering and even donating via ChippedIn (see Jasmin’s site for inspiration). It’s a great investment that will be repaid many times over.