Microfinance

I want to help people.  It’s one of the guiding principles I have for my future aspirations.  I’ve done some service projects thus far.  I spent a few weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Kingston, Jamaica and cleaning up a free medical clinic there as well.  I also went to New Orleans after Katrina and helped build houses.  The group I was in built roofs.  We laid the plywood, covered it in tar-paper, and nailed the shingles down.  Let me tell you, being on a black roof in New Orleans in the summer is HOT.  Currently, I pack food boxes for the hungry once a month and I re-lend on Kiva once the borrowers pay back their micro-finance loans.  I realize lots of people do more, this isn’t even about that.

I started watching “Living on One” (only three years late).  It’s a webseries/vlog/documentary based on four friends living in Guatemala on one dollar per person per day.  The videos focus on food, shelter, emergencies, and how the very poor stay very poor.  I’d recommend it.

I’ve thought about trying for Peace Corps, or working with Habitat for Humanity someday once I’m out of debt.  However, I think that the food-drops, vaccinations, and construction projects, don’t really solve the problem.  I don’t even think poverty is solvable, unfortunately there will always be poor people.

Which brings me to micro-finance.  Kiva is one example, but the idea is that business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals in desperate situations are given loans to help them buy more food to sell in their store, repair their tractor, or send themselves to school.  These aren’t a handout, they’re loans.  The borrowers are expected to pay them back after a few months, once things have presumably turned around for them.

This empowers the very poor to essentially change their own lives by giving them the means to do so.  Charity is a helpful bandaid, but I think that micro-finance has a lot more potential to change the game for people in a new way.

So, now I’m looking into some micro-finance training materials and certifications (since you need a piece of paper to get hired).  Maybe in another few years I’ll be able to work in this field to really help people.

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Microfinance