Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hot Investment Tips

I made a couple of investments yesterday. And I'm sharing the hot tips with you. No, they're not one of those "no money down", get rich overnight schemes. They don't promise that you're going to miraculously grow a full head of hair, lose fifty pounds, or instantly feel invincible to conquer the world after listening to some motivational guru on audio CDs. In fact, the people handling the investment will tell you up front that it will take months before you'll see a return on your money. In fact, there's a slight chance you might not see any part of your money at all. And if everything goes well, you will get back the exact amount you had originally put in. Why would anyone do that? Because this investment you make has the potential to change lives. And that's no small change.
I first heard of when the organization was featured in a public television interview. What they essentially do is to match lenders like you and me with entrepreneurs in third world countries. As a banker to the poor, the lender does not make any interest on the loan. The borrower has a certain time limit to repay it. When the loan is paid in full, the lender could either choose to withdraw the amount or reinvest it on other borrowers. For instance, I recently made my first loans to Mr. & Mrs. Srim Yan and Daria Diaz Leon. The Yans needed money to rent a plot of farmland to grow crops to feed their family of five. One of their children is a student and the other two work in a garment factory. Mrs. Yan also plans to use part of the money to purchase rice stock to make traditional medicinal wine that she could sell to supplement their income. Daria Diaz Leon share a similar story. She is a mother of two children, one of which has Downs Syndrome. She makes her livelihood selling flowers and fruits. She needed to borrow money in order to purchase fertilizers to grow her crops.
What I like about this concept is that it is not a hand-out. Instead, you provide others the opportunity and resources to help themselves. It's like the old saying about teaching others to fish, except many of these people already know how to fish. They just need the fishing line and hook they could use to catch their own meal.
What is great about Kiva's website is that you can purchase electronic gift certificates for someone you care about. Instead of buying that special person another tie or fruit cake (also known as "door stop") for Christmas, you can give a gift that could literally change another person's life. And that's one present you don't have to worry about being returned because it doesn't fit.

(By the way, for those of you who have seen the infomercials by Feed The Children. They received an 'F' rating from American Institute of Philanthropy. If you are thinking of making a donation, I recommend that you read about them first on AIP's website.)

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