The feeling you get by giving a gift, getting a tax deduction and helping someone start their new business all at the same time.
This week I was introduced to Kiva, a non-profit that allows you to contribute funds to start-up loans for individuals in developing countries. Unlike many of us, who start businesses to have more creative freedom or to be our own bosses, the entrepreneurs in Kiva are mostly starting businesses to get themselves out of poverty.
There are many ways to contribute to Kiva. You can loan money to an entrepreneur directly, donate funds towards Kiva’s operating costs, or purchase a gift certificate for someone else. If you choose to lend funds directly, you can read through the profiles of all of the entrepreneurs and choose the person or group you feel most connected to. Once they have received all the start-up capital they need (usually less than $1000 altogether), you’ll receive updates via their journal entries about how things are going. If the business is a success, you’ll receive your loan payment back.
I think this is a fantastic organization to work with. It’s great karma, fulfills the highest level of “tzedakah,” and makes a thoughtful, tax-deductible gift, which is especially great for colleagues in your small business world.