Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In Case You're Looking for Last-Minute Christmas Options

Christmas has traditionally been a time not just of gift-giving, but also of looking for ways to make a meaningful positive impact on the world around us. This season, I'd like to suggest that you look into Kiva, a site that administers "microloans" to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries.

The site allows you scan through a large list of people looking to improve their businesses. You can see who they are, and what they intend to use the money for. Kiva works with other organizations to handle administrative costs (and optional donations), so all the money you give goes to the person requesting the loan. You give $25, the small business owner gets $25 toward their loan (which is paid to them in one amount after enough people have donated enough to aggregate to the amount requested). The loan is interest-free, and they have one year to pay it off. Every month, you will get a progress report on the loan(s) you have contributed to. Although there is a small risk that the loan will default, the default rate is currently only 0.2%, making this a very safe investment that can truly help the lives of people seeking to improve themselves and their communities.

While they have a minimum loan of $25, you can certainly give more if you like. Also, a PayPal account is needed if you want to be able to get your money back after the loan's been repaid. If you do decide to join up and donate, please make sure you put my e-mail address in the "referral" field! Thanks!

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