Saving the World

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One of the benefits of not having cable is that when you are flipping channels aimlessly, the chances of you ending up on PBS and watching something quality are exponentially increased. This happened last night. Actually, I wasn't flipping, I was looking for this documentary about coffee, but I guess I missed it or saw the wrong time and ended up watching Frontline. The first segment was about Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, which was interesting. The second segment was totally amazing: it featured a San Francisco-based non-profit called Kiva, which focuses on microfinance in developing countries. What's microfinance? In a nutshell, small loans (as small as $50) given to potential entrepreneurers in developing countries. These small loans enable people, who would normally have problems getting loans from traditional sources, to start businesses to create steady income to support themselves and their families (see more extensive info here). Kiva is an online network that allows random dude at your computer wherever to, using Pay Pal's simple transaction system, finance microloans to people whose business plans have been preapproved by Kiva's field partners, people who work with those who use the loans. On Kiva's website, you can see what people are seeking loans for and choose who you loan money to (amounts as little as $25), and you can read updates about how people's business plans are working out. So far, Kiva has had a 100% repayment rate for loans.

The idea of this is so empowering to me. If I just have $50 laying around that I could put into savings or spend on something stupid (or donate to a non-profit), I can instead loan it to someone, hopefully make a significant impact on someone's life, with no real loss to me. I get my money back. Check out their website if you are looking to do some good with a little extra cash.

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