A few months ago, I found out about a non-profit called Kiva that allows basically random strangers via the Internet to lend money to businesses and individuals in third-world countries. Kiva relies on donations to cover their administrative costs, so every dollar you give them goes to the business you are funding. They do not pay interest, so there are no capital gains to be had. When I found Kiva, they had just gotten quite a bit of press, so they had no more businesses in need of funding available on their site. I signed up for their newsletter and updates and have been checking back with them fairly often since then.
In the past month, they have signed up with a few new partners in new countries in order to increase their reach. This morning, they sent out an email announcing that they had listed a number of new businesses on their site… and luckily I got to it pretty quickly. They raised an incredible amount of money in only a few hours, and now they have no more businesses in need once again.
I managed to get in before all the businesses were funded, so I’ve now funded $150 of a $500 loan to Shawqat Al Kahwaji, a Palestinian electrician in Gaza. I’m excited to read about his progress over the coming months. Good luck, Shawqat!
Kiva rocks. You can make a difference in the world, you can help a fellow man get his business and his life off the ground and feed his family and help his community.