My favorite gifts over Christmas – both in terms of giving and getting – are donations to organizations fighting poverty in the developing world. Foreign Aid is becoming a controversial and intriguing topic (as it should be), but even aid cynics should recognize that most research supports the idea that helping the poor with small farms and businesses tends to raise standards and help people at the most basic level.
Grameen Foundation is a charitable branch of the Grameen Bank, and their work includes many innovative technology projects such as helping to use mobile phones to help the poor interface with important resources.
This year I won’t be giving out more than a few tiny token presents to my friends and family, but I will be giving some of the best gifts I have ever given. The Nobel prize winning efforts of the Grameen Bank have sponsored the poor with small loans to start businesses, and this tactic has proven to be one of the most effective poverty-fighting measures ever developed.
I hope you’ll consider gifts to Grameen or other charities as part of your happy holidays as well. Grameen’s founder started the project with $27 business loans to poor businesses in India. These were interest loans but historically have had a nearly 100% repayment rate. The spectacular success of Grameen has also inspired other charities to approach development with more of an eye to entrepreneurship and small business and less of the “top down” mega project bureaucracies that have run into many problems as locals resisted them. Small Business, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship is near and dear to the heart of many in the USA and I hope you’ll join me in supporting Grameen with some green this Christmas.
Think about it – $27 loans that often will positively reshape the lives of entire families from this point forward.
More about Grameen. If you are feeling *sassy*, you also might want to click to the right on the Grameen logo and donate via the Grameen page I just set up for a Christmas Campaign. Frankly, if I was presented to this by anybody but a friend I’d be a little concerned that the money would wind up at Grameen – they use a URL that is not easily recognizable as secure and connected to them. But don’t let that deter you – just give at the Grameen Website in that case.
The Grameen Bank was the simple but brilliant innovation in poverty fighting by Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize along with the Bank he founded. The Grameen Bank provides very small loans to women in developing countries who then start businesses and almost alway pay back the microloans with interest.
Microloans have proven to be one of the most effective poverty fighting instruments ever, and continue to lift families out of the conditions faced in much of the developing world. I’ll be giving to this cause and I hope you’ll consider doing so as well!