Alas - There is always a fall back for a positive and uplifting story - My involvement with KIVA.ORG.
KIVA.ORG is a micro-lending service which provides loans to individuals and groups in troubled countries, in an attempt to spread entrepreneurship and create wealth by funding innovation and dedication. The individual lender is requested to contribute $25 to one loan - which is usually paid back over a one year period (depending on the term of the loan at the other end). The rate of loan default is so low on Kiva, making this pro-active "investment" low risk.
The Kiva loan is completely repaid to the lender, who is free to re-lend to another individual, or withdraw after the loan has been repaid.
I started with 3 loans last year, totalling $75.
The first loan went to Bahtiyer Odilmatov, a Tajik farmer (from Tajikistan) to invest in livestock during the slow months, when prices were reduced. He took an 8 month loan, which has since been repaid in full. After making the loan, I also did some research on the lifestyle of Tajik peoples from the region in which he lives. It was a fulfilling experience, which excited me to engage in a second loan.
The second loan went to a group of women in Uganda, Total 2083(b) Group, who run a business of Charcoal Sales. Now, the selling of charcoal is controversial because it leads to deforestation - however, it is necessary for heating and cooking in the region... more information I was able to learn in further studies of the destination of my loan.
My third loan went to Amal in Lebanon, an investment in her clothing sales operations... Of course, Lebanon is in the conflict ridden middle east - which is why an investment in entrepreneurial activities is so important - it acts as a stabilizing factor... those who have something to lose are less likely to pursue radical or extreme measures.
As the loans have been paid back over time, I have shared the experiences with friends and family, encouraging them to make similar loans - or at least letting them take part by redistributing my funds that have been repaid... giving them some stock in the lives of others.
The mission of KIVA is to change lives in uncertain regions of the world... but at home, the impact of investing - even $25 - is so strong and fulfilling that you cannot help but want to share it with others.
I encourage you to visit Kiva... make a $25 loan... track the success of your investment... and share your experiences with others... you do not need to move mountains to change lives...