Entering the world of social investing

From time to time, I think about the four years I spent at Harding and wonder when everything in this world is going to make sense to me.  I mean, that’s why I went to college, right?  So everything would make sense?  Well, it doesn’t, and it probably never will, but I do feel somewhat more educated when it comes to the topics of money and religion.  I have a job, but I’m still trying to figure out how to make that education work and how to make both areas work together.

One of the easiest ways to blend money and religion is through contribution toward a religious cause.  Whether we’re talking about your church’s collection plate or a homeless man asking for money downtown, it doesn’t really matter.  At least, it doesn’t matter as long as you have money.  That’s been my biggest problem as a recent college graduate.  I have all this knowledge, supposedly, but I don’t have an endless supply of money.

I know I’m not the only person in this predicament, which is why the concept behind kiva.org really intrigues me.  It’s not a religious organization, but in many ways, it offers a far more productive way of dedicating your blessings to the cause of Christ than perhaps even your church contribution.  Kiva.org has set out to combine the concept of microlending with the global scale of the internet.  Basically, you can pick from a huge list of struggling entrepreneurs in poor countries, offer a loan of as little as $25, and watch your investment have a profound impact on the lives of people who are probably far less fortunate than you are.

The concept of “social” or “green” investment really isn’t that new, but the people behind Kiva seem to have the vision to accomplish it on a truly meaningful global scale.  Most reports about the site in the news media have been very positive, and Kiva has an extremely low default rate on their loans (about 1 in 9000).  Lenders don’t get interest, though local Kiva “partners” get 13% to cover their costs, which is much lower than going rate for loans in these areas of the world.

I’m personally very excited about getting involved with Kiva, since it offers a truly unique and affordable opportunity to directly make a difference in someone else’s life.  Once I get started, I’ll try to update occasionally on my “portfolio.”

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