I’ve long been a fan of KIVA, the microfinance organization that lets all of us help fund start-up businesses and small business operators around the world for as little as twenty-five bucks. I have several loans out with them, supporting projects like shop owners in South Sudan, food vendors in Samoa, and artist collectives in Bolivia. I am, in fact, just this morning, with an easy visit to their website, re-loaning funds to new programs around the world. It feels great to have a small chunk of money invested in real world businesses and individuals making a way for themselves and their families and communities–I highly suggest you give it a try. If it’s not for you, after your loan is repaid, move on…but I suspect you’ll find you don’t actually miss that $25 and will want to re-invest in another small business to extend the way YOU reach the world.
Now, KIVA is implementing classroom tools for students and educators to explore global microfinance through learning institutions. With KIVA U, instructors can now teach the concepts of everyday investors making a real difference in lives across the globe. Generated by students or teachers/professors, you can create a KIVA U team in the classroom, tap into lesson plans appropriate for different grade levels and ages, and take a hands-on approach to international development.
All the tools are there for you, from educational materials, message boards so your group can connect as a team, ways to connect to other teams and fund loans even faster, and a way to deep dive into practical ways to connect our big ol’ global family.
C’mon–it truly is Back to School Time!
OK–we made it through Grey Thursday and all it’s attendant protests, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday…a somewhat treacherous (to your wallet) path, but today you have arrived at the pinnacle event: GIVING TUESDAY.
As a follow up to the rampant purchasing, today, Giving Tuesday, has been designated as a time to give to those less fortunate than yourself. It is a campaign to create a NATIONAL DAY OF GIVING at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations. We had our day for giving thanks, a few days for getting deals, now it’s a day for giving back. Big organizations are behind it, like the 92nd Street Y in NYC (the incubator of the idea), United Nations Foundation, United Way, Huffington Post, City of Hope, Charity Miles, DoSomething.org, Pencils of Promise, American Red Cross, Kiva, Global Giving, and so many more. There are now more than 2,000 Giving Tuesday partners with special initiatives and projects tied to this day, so it is super easy for you to get involved. Choose your favorite cause and give: time, money, both (or a commitment to show up and volunteer soon)…then spread the word…be audacious and vocal about your good deeds, it will inspire others. Here is a whole list of ideas for ways individuals and families can get their giving on. JUMP IN!
The winner of the first Change by Doing contest is Brodie, from Los Angeles. Woot Woot (If I weren’t so vehemently against emoticons, I’d insert something here that winks or smiles or dances a jig).
Brodie won skincare products from a new line at Dermalogica, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, a canvas tote bag, and a “Bullets to Bracelets” Ethiopian artisan created work made from old bullet casings melted down into beads. All he had to do was respond to this question: If you could custom design a dream volunteer vacation anywhere in the world and tackle any problem, where would it be and what would you do?
Brodie wrote: “I’ve always been attracted to ancient European historical towns that still operate much like they did hundreds of years ago. And in many of these towns, architectural masterpieces are falling to ruin. It’s not that the towns aren’t thriving, it’s just that the cost of restorations are often prohibitive for these small communities.
A great volunteer vacation would be helping to restore these towns to their former glory. Medieval churches, historical homes, and cobblestone streets would flourish again. The benefits would be countless because when history comes alive, it brings us all together.
Many of these efforts are underway now along the Italian coast, and volunteer help would prove invaluable.”
Woot Woot–what better for a Friday than a contest? This is the first Change by Doing voluntourism contest. My recent post about Nelson Mandela Day and the partnership between joinFITE, Kiva, and Dermalogica gave you a chance to try out being a Kiva loaner for free (hope you did–and then donated more to enterprising women around the world who are truly making a difference. Kiva ROCKS!)
From that blog posting, Dermaolgica has sent along some products and gifts for me to reward one reader. I’ve got this nifty box here with a copy of what I think is a truly important book—Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, a canvas tote bag, 2 Dermaolgica skincare products, and a really cool sneak peek of their new holiday gift item, “Bullets to Bracelets.” For the bracelets, artisans in Ethiopia collect old bullet casings and melt them down into beads. A really great initiative, reclaiming a symbol of violence and transforming it into powerful jewelry.
You know you want this! All you have to do is answer this question in the comments section below: If you could custom design a dream volunteer vacation anywhere in the world and tackle any problem, where would it be and what would you do?
You can answer in the comments or email me your ideas (firstname.lastname@example.org). Entries will close September 1, and a winner will be chosen from all your fantastic inspiration. It needn’t be a realistic goal nor a currently existing trip, though it can be…just tell me what lights your fire, and how you dream of making a difference in the world, far away or next door.
Have you been combing the aisles at your mall, racking your brain, wondering what to buy Nelson Mandela for his birthday today?
The 67 years of public service Madiba (Mandela) has dedicated to the world are being lauded in a particularly affirmative way via Kiva, joinFITE, and Dermalogica. Today, Mandela Day, these organizations are joining forces to inspire and empower all of us to take action and become changemakers.
joinFITE is a microfinance platform designed to provide female entrepreneurs and small business owners with Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship. To date, joinFITE has helped fund loans for more than 18,500 women entrepreneurs, with a goal of 25,000 by the end of 2012.
Dermalogica has pre-funded 670 loans to honor Madiba’s 67 years of activism, and all you have to do is log on and dedicate one of them to help women start or grow their own businesses through microfinance, which helps them as well as their communities become more financially independent.
Today, I am sharing this call to action and encourage you to get involved by making a microloan to create a positive change in a woman’s life. It will only take a few minutes of your time, and costs you ZIP–Dermalogica has already paid for your good deed–your gift to Mandela.
Please visit www.Kiva.org/women to direct a loan, and help make a difference in the life of a woman in the country and business practice of your choice.
That’s how many FREE loans KIVA is providing through the generosity of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. If you join KIVA right now, you can make your first loan to a small business owner for free. I have, if memory serves, eleven active business loans right now, and love investing and re-investing over and over again to change lives across the globe. I call them my business partners–I have helped fund an arts collective in Peru, a grocery store in Ivory Coast, clothing shop in Sierra Leone, tortilla-making business, beauty supply shop, shoe sales, car service, and more, in many many countries. I love randomly searching the website for profiles that tug at me heart and inspire me. It’s so affordable, so do-able, and so fulfilling (and a great gift as well).
If you haven’t yet experienced the power of microfinance–go explore.
FITE: (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship. A breath of fresh perspective from Kiva, the micro loan organization that is already changing world poverty.