The financial crisis in world markets over the past few weeks has been a real eye-opener, but even those of us who have seen our stock portfolios decline by 30 percent or more don’t have much to complain about. It could be worse. It could be a lot worse. A third of the world’s population lives in poverty, and 20 percent lives in extreme poverty, meaning they are always hungry.
What can you do? How about making a microloan of a $20, $50, or $100 to an entrepreneur in a poor country? Today is Blog Action Day, with blogs around the world making a concerted effort to raise awareness about global poverty and ways to fight it. What we’ve decided to do is to start a TechCrunch lending team at Kiva.org. Anyone can join.
Kiva matches entrepreneurs in poor countries with lenders in rich ones. You can choose whichever project/business you want to fund (much like DonorsChoose, another charity we encourage you to support, lets you fund specific school projects here in the U.S.). For instance, this grocery owner in Kabul needs only $50 to complete a $1,075 loan to buy inventory for a year or this furniture maker who needs $350 to complete his loan. Little actions can build up quickly through sites like Kiva.
You might also want to check out MicroPlace (another microloan site) and aGoodCause (which lets you raise money for charity while you shop). For those who want to spread the message about their own cause through their social networks, Change.org and Causecast are great places to start.