The explosion that is the Facebook phenomena holds a major upside for so-called "social enterprises," those organizations and start-ups that aim to improve society, whether in the U.S. or abroad. Anyway, that's the case I make over at onPhilanthropy, where I'm the publisher by day:
Sites like Kiva and Facebook - well, let’s call them networks, not sites - hold the promise of connecting social entrepreneurship with mass markets of consumers: of linking the motivation behind philanthropy with the aspiration to bring about change. And the result may change how developed societies come to view charity and causes.
Kiva is particularly interesting to me. My 15-year-old and I have been experimenting with making microloans to small businesses in developing countries. My loans went to businesses in Ghana and Mexico. On Friday, I got some good news. María De La Luz Ramírez Sáenz began to repay the $25 loan I made to her a couple of months ago. María lives in San Juanito, Chihuahua, Mexico and runs the Dulcería del Centro in town. Here's a bit of Maria's story:
María is separated from her husband and cares for five children, who are 28, 27, 22, 18, and 8 years old. She began with her business when she separated from her husband because her children were studying and she didn’t have any way to continue educating them. It was for them that she decided to open a small business with the help of one of her children, who had begun working and was able to give her his small savings so that she could rent a shop where she could sell sweets. Little by little, things went well and her business began to grow. At the request of her clients, she began selling more things for children’s parties, like disposable items, piñatas, etc.
I'll be honest about the pay-off for a guy like me: being a small-time banker and reaching real people beats sitting on my ass and bloviating about changing the world from behind a keyboard. What's also cool about Kiva is the social network aspect; I can see who the other lenders are. And I can share the experience with my daughter.