May 19th, 2007

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With the World Bank big in the news now, I could be writing today about corruption, but since I just did that I’ll be focusing instead on the more up-beat and positive.

This story from the VOA titled, “World Bank Boosts Entrepreneurs with Social Goals”, touts some of the work the organization … actually a collection of five organizations, but like everyone else, I’ll stick with the popular moniker … does to help people in grindingly poor parts of the world.

The Grassroots Business Initiative of the International Finance Corporation, one section of the World Bank, is the branch that deals directly with burgeoning small enterprises in developing nations.

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Like Satyan Mishra in a village in Uttar Predesh, India, trying to start a campaign to bring Internet access to the rural areas of his country, Digital Divide Data, a company said to have “almost single-handedly forged a new industry for Cambodia and helped generate entrepreneurial activity”, a network of low-cost pharmacies in Kenya, an association of women artists in Swaziland and a plan to engage the indigenous people of the Amazon in making paper products from local plants, companies are finding start-up money through the Grassroots Business Initiative.

International adoptive parents are often inclined to support people and projects in their children’s birth countries, so follow World Bank contributions. Aside from the tax dollars that support this huge organization, however, there are others ways to make a difference for the positive more directly.

Kiva: loans that change lives is a fabulous organization that allows even our children to participate in giving by allowing individuals to make small loans … as little as $25 … to specific people in specific countries starting up specific businesses.

For example, at this moment there is a seamstress in Cambodia raising $800 who would like to augment her income, so needs to buy a cart from which she can sell sugar cane juice. She’s $25 away from her goal. Another woman, in Ukraine, is also borrowing $800 to re-supply inventory in her market stall.

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

The loan requests are changing all the time as borrowers get what they need and begin the monthly repayment plans, and new ones qualify.(PayPal provides free processing.)

What a great way to help, and to involve our children in giving in a way they can understand. Grand gestures are all well and good, but a kid giving part of his birthday money to a family far away will be happy to see faces and know stories.

There are also few safer ways to lend, as the default rate is very close to zero, so your family can keep giving the same $25 or $50 or $100 over and over and over, helping someone each time to reach a goal that will help them contribute in their country. How cool is that!

If you’ve stopped by looking for the weekly update of Cambodian news, it’s here.

One Response to “How to help people in birth countries: Microfinance”

  1. Angela says:

    Nice post.

    I have been involved with micro credit banking for 5 years now via my church. We fund 2 to 5 micro credit banks per year. Most of them in Mexico and South America.

    I have been loaning money via Kiva since Feb 2007.

    Micro credit is the 1 proven tool that does alleviate poverty.

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