Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting Out of Poverty

In honor of Blog Action Day, today's post is dedicated to poverty, or more specifically to getting out of poverty. Readers of Money and Such know that I am a free market capitalist at heart, I believe that business and entrepreneurship are the path to economic growth and prosperity. However, capitalism requires... capital.

We are all familiar with the old cliche: "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime". That's all nice and well, but the man still needs to acquire a fishing rod to do his fishing. Without capital, impoverished individuals, be they the most enterprising and entrepreneurial individuals in the world will find it very hard to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Enter capitalist charities. The goal of these amazing organizations is to lift people out of poverty permenantly by giving them or helping them to get their own "fishing rods". Here is a spotlight on three of these amazing institutions:

Grameen Bank - the first and most famous of these institutions, Grameen Bank specializes in micro credit. Lending tiny amounts of money to the poorest of the poor, who use these loans to start and grow businesses. Grameen Bank (or actually, I believe it was its founder, Muhammad Yunus), won the Nobel Peace prize for its work.

Heifer International - what if instead of giving money to the poor, we gave them a producing asset? That is the philosophy behind Heifer International. This institution gives its recepients livestock - for example, a cow or water buffalo, and they, in turn, must give the off-spring of the animals to other recepients.

Kiva - this organization allows individuals to get into the micro financing business. You can make micro (and I really mean MICRO) loans to individuals in need around the world, after reading their stories and plans for the money they receive. My wife has been using this site to contribute money to several projects in multiple countries. None of the loans has defaulted so far.

Who says capitalism and social causes don't mix?

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