Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Feel Good Investing in Uncertain Times
Tired of watching your 401(k) wither on the vine? Sick of the Wall Street roller coaster? Looking for an opportunity that helps others?
A lot of people are reducing their charitable giving in light of the current economic crisis, and this just makes the global poverty crisis worse.
What if you could donate to charity and get that donation back so you can give it over and over again to someone else?
Consider investing your loose change in Kiva.org. Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. It also provides a level of transparency and fiduciary oversight I have not seen in many other charitable organizations.
Less than 1.3% of the nearly $16.5 million dollars in loans in Kiva have defaulted, and if they do, you are out $100 or less since most of the loans are very small. The reasons for default can often be contributed to on the ground issues such as drought, war, HIV/AIDS, or other uncontrollable circumstances. Issues that farmers have faced around the world since time began and since they started bartering or borrowing to get their their crops started every year with a promise to pay their benefactor back with the proceeds from the crop, or the crop itself.
The beauty of Kiva is that they screen the entrepreneurs and rate all the risk. You can also partner with teams giving on behalf of a certain cause. I like it because I can research my own investment opportunities and pick projects that mean something.
And yes, as you might expect, the major beneficiary of global micro financing is women.
This is by no means a new concept. Muhammad Yunus founded the Grameen Bank and took home the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
Low risk, feel good charity. Try it - you'll feel part of something instead of being an anonymous shareholder of an increasingly worthless piece of stock paper.