Today, I got a $20 bill in a random act of kindness. A girl whizzing past in a car near South Miami’s Metrorail station put out an envelope that put me in a difficult situation. My parents taught me to never use money that I did not earn. I had to now make a decision to put $20 to its best use.
I went online. My search led me to the world of social empowerment through microfinance. Generally our small time donations make a limited one-time impact.
It turns out that the scope of charity can now be extended especially when people are looking for temporary financial assistance.
Organizations like Kiva, Milaap, Zidisha and Vittana provide a unique service where our donation is given out as a loan to people in need. Zidisha even lets us give a zero-interest loan.
When they repay our loan, we can chose to lend it to others again thus circulating our donation forever. One can lend for education, enterprise or sanitation, among other things.
I am really grateful to that girl and her family, who taught me that the new word for charity is empowerment.
Sudheendra Rao, South Miami