Thursday, March 20, 2008

A short plug for a microfinancing venture

Microfinancing--the extending of small business loans to poor people in developing nations--is an idea that has fascinated me ever since I first heard of it several years ago. Organizations such as Kiva make it possible for people to loan money (via a "field partner"--a microfinance institution) directly to those who have made requests for loans. Microfinancing, along with other developing-world market principles such as the Fair Trade movement, won't by themselves alleviate world poverty, but they do provide tiny seeds of economic freedom and self-sustainability in places sorely in need of them--seeds that, given time and luck, can grow into something larger.

Just recently, Calabash Music--a company specializing in world music artists that already sells music on Fair Trade principles--has announced that it is soliciting contributions to establish a microfund platform of $50,000 for the purpose of extending small loans to musicians to pay for things like studio time. What little I know about west African and Brazilian music has been greatly enhanced through Calabash's extensive biographies of artists; I think I can spare a few bucks come payday and/or tax-refund time.

Here is the contribution widget, should you be so inclined:

Alternately, Calabash has also made it possible for you to contribute directly to individual artists and groups--even, in one case, a samba school in Recife, Brazil.

Too often, I find myself wondering, What kind of difference in other people's lives can I make? I'm happy to see that one of my favorite businesses has created yet another way, albeit a small one, to contribute to making a difference.

No comments: