So you need only flip back about a year ago on this blog to find that I am clearly a fan of pushing people to contribute to their community, and their world, in a positive way. I was a huge proponent of the We Are Microsoft event last January that has since morphed into the GiveCamp initiative nationwide. I've been thrilled to watch that effort franchise itself around the United States, and am sure that it will reach further will. GiveCamp's are based on the idea of using our skills, as developers, to impact a local charity in a positive way. This is an incredibly high touch, high impact donation of skills that many charities simply lack. But at its heart, it is about giving back. So what can we do between GiveCamps? How can we impact our community and our world in a tangible way without picking up and doing three years of field work around world?
Well the truth of the matter is that in between we need to work closely with those people who are on the ground around the world and know where impact can be created. Kiva.org is an organization that lets us do exactly that. They are a micro-financing group who helps bring small loans to people throughout the world. While a $50 dollars might buy you a new video game for your XBox 360, it will also help fund two different loans to entrepreneurs around the world.
What is Micro-Financing?
Micro-Financing is about helping lend money directly to entrepreneurs around the world which can make a real impact to their local economy. It is based on the principals of capitalism, and can be explained much better by sites such as WikiPedia or Kiva themselves.
How does Kiva help?
Simple, they work with partner organizations on the ground to make known to you the needs of these entrepreneurs. They provide a way you can work with others to finance such a loan. They handle collecting those funds and returning them to you.
GiveCamp @ Kiva.org
I've created what Kiva calls a Lending Team for GiveCamp on Kiva's website. Through this team we can contribute to these entrepreneurs as well as track our impact over time. This is a long term effort, but even $25 can really help change the lives of those involved. Go to Kiva.org, create an account, join the team, and look for someone in need of a loan that you would be willing to back. I've already got a handful of loans out there. A word of advice though, join our Lending team first, before you fund a loan, because it will only be counted towards the team if it is made after you join.
Absolutely no skin in this game...
I want to be very clear, there is ZERO personal profit motivation for me in this. Teams are merely a community building effort and there is nothing about making a loan as part of the GiveCamp team that in any way accrues to the personal benefit of myself, or anyone else.