In my quest to learn more/support about the 'other entrepreneurs' (those aiming slight right of the make money vs save the world line) the next on the list is Kiva, which has received a lot of press lately as the poster-site for micro-lending.
Kiva offers 'loans that changes lives," But I like their positioning statement: "We let you loan to the working poor." Kiva collects $25+ donation from individuals and loans them to 3rd world entrepreneurs looking to expand, grow, or sustain their businesses.
Every entrepreneur or wannabe entrepreneur needs to head immediately to Kiva and donate $25.00 for some good old fashioned startup karma.
Mine went to a 28 year old father of one in Togo. (By the way Togo is a tiny country in West Africa...Kiva is good for geography lessons as well). He runs a motorbike repair shop. He requested a loan so that he could buy more parts...since his supply couldn't meet his demand. If he has more parts, he can do more repairs, make more money, and so on. Standard business. Awesome. All for $25
He's even paid back $2.08 already. And, just like vegas, Kiva has it figured out. It's REAL easy to reinvest when your money's already in the system. Who should I fund next?
Kiva. Change the world through the entrepreneurial drive of others.
At NothingButNets (.net) $20 buys a net to cover a family's home in Africa..coated in insectiside and effectively prevent Malaria (moreso the bugs carrying it), one of the leading killers of children in Africa. Full service, including shipping. Takes care of a family of four. Awesome.
I like the 'no brainer charities.' It's one thing to give money. It's another thing to buy a net that saves children's lives.
Note to other companies raising money to save the world: Make it tangible, make the story simple. Then get Rick Reilly to write about it.
Any Sports Illustrated (or now ESPN) reader knows who Rick Reilly is. My favorite sports author, he brought NothingButNets to the mainstream (it's a United Nations Foundation Charity) a few years ago with his article urging anybody who'd spent anytime using nets as a form of entertainment to purchase a net as a form of survival.
Now, they've raised distributed over 23 million bed nets and are working to cover the entire continent. Check them out at http://www.nothingbutnets.net
Now that Athleon has some money in the bank...meaning I can afford to buy lunch every now and then...the 'you're blessed and you can afford to help others' voice in the back of my head has started speaking again.
Some small number of people give to a non-church charity every year (5 some odd % I believe), and, outside of my church givings I can actually REMEMBER every single time I've been charitable with anything but change.
That fact, combined with my increasing love of entrepreneurship, has lead me to seek out amazing charitable organizations to give a small amount of money (very small really) out of every paycheck to. Most of us who are building a business are doing it for some combination of fame or wealth...yet a lot of really, really cool entrepreneurs are starting something with no real option for wealth involved.
So, over the next however long, every paycheck (our payroll is done bi-monthly) I'll let you know which really cool charity is getting the small piece of my hard earned cash. It's the same amount every month and as of now I'm not planning on doubling down....I realize that giving a bigger sum to one charity may be more beneficial, but I'm seeking out cool charities in quantity.
If you have a group I simply MUST donate to let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, go change the world however you see fit.
There are absolutely no rules to this simply organizations that do something good for somebody else (and hopefully tell me exactly where my money is going...transparency is a very good idea). They may help starving children in Africa, or people 2 feet way in Seattle. No rules. I want to find orgs who are as passionate about what they do as I am about what I do....and maybe help a fellow human being or two in the process.
(P.S. While it doesn't really count, my first bit o cash went to the candidate I supported in the November election. It AMAZES me how much money Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama spent on advertising against each other...perhaps giving to the guy outside my local starbucks today would have been a better use of my money).