Hearing Greg Mortenson speak so passionately at NCTE reminded me of another organization that I was intending to support this year, Kiva:
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.Kiva allows individuals to contribute a small amount of money that is then loaned to entrepreneurs in impoverished communities. When that loan is repaid (currently almost 97% are repaid), then the individual that originally made the loan can choose to loan the money out to another entrepreneur, donate it to kiva to help with their operating expenses, or actually get the money back.
Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.
Poor people in impoverished communities often don’t have access to financial institutions and capital, and microfinancing addresses this problem. It is especially helpful to women, who often are the key to raising families – and communities – out of poverty. It’s also my opinion that this is one of the best ways to help achieve peace in the world.
So, while I’m still giving some small presents to family members this year, I’m redirecting some of the money we’d usually spend to Kiva. I thought it might be nice to use the reach of this blog, and my Personal Learning Network, to try to grow this a little bit, so this is what I’m trying to do.
First, I’ve donated $25 to an entrepreneur ($25 is the minimum they accept). But I’ve also purchased two $25 gift certificates that I then emailed to two members of my PLN. I’m asking those folks to then do two things. First, they can choose which entrepreneur to loan the $25 to (they can pick the one I picked, or any of the 773 currently available). Then I’m asking them to consider doing the same thing – purchasing two $25 gift certificates and emailing them to two members of their PLN (with the same request that those folks continue the cycle, a Kiva Pay It Forward plan). It would also be great if they blogged about it and left a comment on this post.
Since I’m apparently always going to be connected to the phrase Shift Happens, I thought I’d try to use that to do some good, so I created Team Shift Happens on the Kiva site:
We loan because Shift Happens, and we want to be the change we want to see.So, those email requests will also ask that when they make those loans they add them to Team Shift Happens so that we can keep track of the total (they still direct where the loan goes, it just gets aggregated under the team).
Shift Happens opines that we live in “exponential times” and, if these folks take me up on this, our contributions have the potential to grow exponentially. To hedge my bets, however, I’m also asking you to join Team Shift Happens as well. Yes, you, gentle reader. Whether you’re an education blogger, a student at Arapahoe (or any other school), or just some other interested reader, I’d like you to consider signing up at Kiva and contributing. (If you’re a student, please check with your parents first. Or, if you’re at AHS, I’ll happily collect and aggregate small cash donations in my office and then make the loans myself on Kiva.)
You can either make a $25 loan yourself, or, what I’d love to see, do the same thing that I’m doing (make a $25 loan, then purchase two $25 gift certificates and email them to folks you know and ask them to do the same). If you’re a blogger, also consider blogging about this and making the same request to your readers. I realize not everyone will be comfortable with that, or has $75 to spare, so please contribute what you can. If you wish, it would be great if you then add your loan so it counts toward Team Shift Happens so we can see what we can accomplish together, and leave a comment on this post.
So, like others this time of year, I’m asking you to give. Give until it feels good.
Update 12-2-08: My entrepreneur is now fully funded, at least partially due to the generosity of the folks that read this post. But there are still many more people needing funding - please consider participating.