That Is the slogan I created for a new movement. It starts today, physically in Seattle and remotely around the world.
Change The World
The economics of the past clearly haven’t worked, as we have seen over the past several years, but particularly in the last year. The economic norms don’t have humanity in mind, they are not for the good of the people, they are for the good of the few. The rich few. But as you all know from yesterday’s post, I believe individual actions make a difference. I believe each of our actions together can change the world.
Money is one of the things that makes the world go round, there’s no denying it – when the economy goes south, we all feel it.
So let’s redefine finance, change how money works or doesn’t in our world. Let’s put our money where our passion is and truly, completely, invest in our future.
What Is It?
If you’ve ever heard of microfinance or microcredit, that’s what this is. Briefly, here’s how it works: instead of investing your money in a money market fund, or keeping it in a savings account, you put it into an Oikocredit fund. That fund is used to provide loans and business services to people in the developing world who cannot obtain a bank loan for their business plan (because they are poor and have no collateral or previous credit history). These loans have a 95-99% success rate – much higher than typical small business loans. And in 35 years, Oikocredit has repaid every single lender with their money plus interest.
It is a strategy for bringing people out of poverty by helping them become self-sufficient. And it is a strategy for changing the world by changing what we do with our investments: why give our savings to a big bank who cares nothing about you, your money, or the greater good of the world? You can do more with your money.
Who Does It Change?
Here is a bit I wrote on the Oikocredit website about a woman named Flora.
Flora lives in a region of Kenya where 90% of people in the area live below the poverty line on less than $2 a day. When Flora’s husband was killed and their cattle stolen in 2001, she cried, feeling helpless and hopeless. But with four young children to support, she desperately needed to rebuild her life. With a series of loans – and a lot of hard work – she was able to re-establish her herd and eventually open a small grocery store. Little by little Flora started thinking big again and taking control of her life.
Flora has never forgotten her own struggle and is devoted to helping others in her community. She offers fair credit in her shop to customers who need it. In addition to a home for her family, she has also built rooms to rent out. This housing means others can live affordably and benefit like she has from the town’s growth. Today, she not only feeds and clothes her family; she pays school fees for her two brothers and plans to send her own children to college. Her future dreams include opening another business. Not only does Flora have improved her own life, but she has also become the inspiration for other single women in her community. Photography: Samburu Teachers Sacco
If you’re still unsure, I encourage you to try investing $25 and see what happens, see how it feels to fuel someone else’s success as you keep you own money safe.
I wonder now why haven’t we done this long ago. I only recently heard about microfinance, I don’t know about you. My guess is that we weren’t thinking about how to help each other at the same time we help ourselves, and the big banks have much bigger marketing budgets than these organizations who are trying to change the world.
What amazing connections, impacts, true life changes we can create by changing the way we invest and focusing on putting our investment dollars to the same scrutiny that we put our food buying dollars.
Join Us, Learn More
If you want to learn more, and meet the CEO of this non- profit, come join us tonight:
Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Time: 5:30pm – 9:00pm
Street: 122 NW 36th St in Fremont; Seattle, WA; 98107
Cost: Free! Includes drinks and snacks
If you aren’t in the area, don’t worry – we’ve created a fabulous site with lots of information here. Or if you want a personal connection, just email me – I’m happy to let you know all I know about it. Also, this is also just the kickoff event – we will be having more organizing events in the coming months around the United States. If you are not in the US, you can learn more about Oikocredit investments in your country here.
And finally, while this is a client of my new mission-driven business, we picked this client for a reason. We set out to change the world as a business, so we don’t choose our clients lightly. Oikocredit has been around for 35 years, with an amazing mission and truly selfless people working together. They also take huge strides to make sure their work is socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable. They want to improve the world just as much as we do.
If you want to look around at other microfinance organizations to pick which one works best for you, there are several others. Just make sure you investigate them as we did with Oikocredit – make sure they are offering loans at reasonable rates to people in the developing world, and that they offer services beyond loans – support services like courses in creating a business plan, accounting, marketing, etc – these things are what make the biggest difference.
Change the world by changing the way you invest. Join the movement.
Have you thought about your investments in this way before? Will you think about changing the way you invest? Do you have questions, or other suggestions about ways to change the way we think about money?