A friend found with some surprise that he had some money coming to him: a microloan that he made to someone in Equador had been repaid.
I shrugged, had a look at the website, and ended up making a loan to a blacksmith from Peru. I've read some things about the Grameen Bank and similar projects, and they've always made a lot of sense to me. I've been wrangling with Paypal today anyway to buy a case for the Mininote from eBay, so the website was a convenient way to contribute.
It's $25; the sort of money I might spent in a mediocre night out. For that sum, I get to feel good about myself: I'm making a difference, doing something unequivocally Good, and doing it in the most practical way possible.
This isn't charity, which I vaguely dislike (although I did send money to tsunami victims - because it was conveniently arranged by the Internet banking website). It's providing a loan for entrepreneurs, money they will use to buy materials and tools to improve their ability to do business and provide for themselves - and they'll pay it back after a fixed period. This is not feeding a Third World addiction - it is the bleedingly obvious upside of globalization.
This country has gone from a postsoviet wreck to a Nordic tiger in two decades, ultimately thanks to foreign capital that allowed us to earn good money for hard work. It is the moral obligation of everyone in Estonia, and everyone who has ever received help from others, to support projects like microloans.
Go to kiva.org, give someone a loan of twenty-five bucks, then come back here and sound off in the comments, so I can tell you how much you rule.
A tale of two countries
5 weeks ago