For those of you who are not familiar with crowd-funding, please let me invite you to try it. Basically, any individual anywhere in the world can easily go online and make a direct financial contribution to another specific individual across the globe to support their needs.
One of the first huge success stories in this practice is Kiva.org, a non-governmental online organization that helps facilitate loans between lenders (like you) and borrowers in developing communities. The borrower, through the help of an independent community group in their area, posts their name, photo, business idea and desired amount of money to start their own business. The money is then collected online and given as a loan – it’s micro-financing from one regular person to another. Generally it’s a small amount of money (perhaps under $500) that can make the difference between someone who is starving, and someone who is immediately pulling themselves out of poverty. Each lender on average contributes $25, and literally within minutes of posting the loan request and bio, the borrower is fully funded.
Since starting in 2005 Kiva has mobilized 883,289 lenders, raised an estimated $398 million in loans, is now operating in 67 different countries and has repaid 99 percent of all money distributed.
A different type of funding group is Samahope.org. They raise money online for surgical treatments in Zambia and Sierra Leone. Again, anyone can go to their site, view the bios and pictures of individuals in need and then make a direct payment to help whomever they specifically want to. The women being supported by this service all suffer from fistula and are in need of medical services. Fistula is a result of prolonged labor during childbirth when tearing in the skin can cause infection and incontinence. It is very much a result of poverty and lack of healthcare and is almost nonexistent in developed parts of the world. The condition is often debilitating and also carries with it strong taboos that further alienate the sufferer.
These sites and other crowd-funding groups allow regular people all over the world to pool their money and collectively bring about real life change for individuals in the most remote regions of the world. It’s fast and easy, any amount of money can be given, the impact is immediate and your sense of having made real change is compelling… Try it.
– Mary Purcell