Kiva: Loans that are changing lives

Buying a Car? A house? Starting up a business? Need money for college? I could go on but whatever the reason is, you’re in a situation where you need a loan. You’re looking for a bank to lend you a helping hand and in exchange you will pay them back (in installments) the full amount, plus interest.

Seems like a pretty normal situation.

However, what if that bank was you? What if poor students and entrepreneurs from across the world told you why they needed a loan, how it would help them and were willing to pay you back (with interest)?

Seems like an interesting concept?

Well, that’s exactly what Kiva.org is – a crowd-sourced micro-lending website/platform service that allows individuals (like you and I) to lend money to extremely low income students and entrepreneurs across the globe.

Crowd-sourced micro-lending?

This is the source of how Kiva operates and it’s basically a group of people contributing Read more…

A positive Ripple effect from a few Aussies

Ripple (verb) – to cause small waves.

A ripple effect is often used to describe a situation where an effect from an initial state can be followed outwards incrementally. These effects can be either negative or positive and occur quite frequently in society and yes, the Internet. But let’s switch it up for a few seconds – We use search engines (like Google) to look for things on the web (news, entertainment, products, information, etc.).

Alright, so imagine combining the two and creating a search engine that creates a positive and socially conscious ripple effect.

Well on May 4th 2007, 4 friends from Australia (Jehan Ratnatunga, Simon Griffiths, Matt Tilleard and Mack Nevill) did just that.

Together they decided to use Google’s built in search engine (Google Co-op) to build a non-profit website that harnesses the power of the Internet, leverages affiliate advertising to generate revenue, and use that money to help people, instead of Read more…

The Girl Store: Buying Back the Power of Education

The day I completed my undergraduate studies was a joyous day for me.

This milestone that I’d passed has been something I have dreamed about since I was 10 years old. At that age, never did I think my gender could have prevented me from accessing this dream in the very way it does for many girls around the world today, especially in India.

A cycle persists in many parts of India where girls are subject to being married at young ages or sold into sex slavery. In order to end this tumultuous cycle, The Girl Store was created.

Not Your Typical Kiosk

It’s not your typical online store; instead it is a place where you can “purchase” a young girl her life back so that she may have the opportunity to obtain an education by supporting her with the items that she needs to go to school.

Sponsored by the K.C. Mahindra Education Trust Read more…

Support for International Change: The Tuko Pamoja Bag Sponsorship Program

There seem to be many organizations out there working towards a sustainable solution to the deadly HIV/AIDS virus that has continued to wreck havoc within our social circles. Indeed we seem to get lost in the wide array of choices to follow. I guess we can look at it as a good thing, since the more people working towards a remedy to this epidemic the better.

However, Support for International Change has a few things that set it apart from the rest.

Reclamation Project

Support For International Change (SIC) is an organization dedicated to limiting the impact of HIV/AIDS in under-served communities.

Working on a mantra of imperatively acting on the opportunity to learn, SIC envisions a world where HIV/AIDS no longer limits the social and economic development of a community. Using the age old ‘knowledge is power’, SIC seeks to empower youth to learn the skills to address the health issues of following Read more…

The first step: Awareness (Journalists for Human Rights)

All around the world, journalists provide the population with accurate knowledge and information about current events.  It is important that the reporting is unbiased and the story is told from all sides of the conflict or situation; therefore, allowing the audience to form their own conclusions and opinion.

This is good journalism.

However, not all countries have the same ability or understanding of what journalism should entail.  Many nations’ media platforms are controlled by their government.  Consequently, only government approved material is broadcasted.  This seriously hinders the possibility of population to be able to shape their own views.

Paul Kagame has been the president of Rwanda since 2000.  Some sources say that Rwanda has been the largest success story within Africa under his guidance.  However, all media sources in Rwanda are held to strict guidelines.  The media limitations were put in affect following the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The objective of the guidelines is Read more…

Save The Music Foundation: Empowering Kids to Climb The Charts

I believe every kid wants to be a rock star.

Whether it’s a drummer, the singer, the sound engineer or even perhaps the band’s tour manager, since the advent of MTV and the music video revolution, kids everywhere have been subjected to motivations of being the next Beyonce/Ozzy Osbourne. However, the odds are heavily in favour of those with money on their side, to buy musical equipment and fund their dreams.

This is not fair. Dreams are for everybody.

The Reality Star

Seeking to target older demographics looking for softer pop music, VH1 was created in 1985 as a New York City venture aimed at building on the success of MTV’s music video revolution. The overall focus on VH1 is primarily that of popular music, while the network has moved into the reality television market.

Creating music is free. However the means of producing such creative art is not.

In many cases, music educational programs have Read more…

All you need is Love (and the basic necessities of life) : The Akshaya Trust

“I saw a very old man, literally eating his own human waste out of hunger. I went to the nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idli, which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”

February is the time of the year where loved ones are showered with unconditional love and compassion. It’s the time of the year when you can truly make your loved ones feel special and truly loved. However, we can all agree that every month of every year is one for affection.

Love is the buzzword.

Unfortunately, society has created a vacuum wherein not all humans in this country (India, and applies to the world in general) are treated well enough to be in a position Read more…

Get off your butt: DoSomething.org

They walk among us.

We all know one. We admire their tenacity, their determination and their leadership abilities. They amaze us with their capacity to make informed, mature decisions. Their passionate desire to make the world a better place to live is truly inspirational. The agents of change I am talking about are not heads of state, corporate CEO’s or even executive director’s multi-national charitable organizations.

They are teenagers.

I consider myself very lucky to have one such teenager in my family. My cousin Mallory and her friends believe that they can make a difference in their community and they aren’t letting anyone stop them from helping those in need. From organizing winter clothing drives to anti-bullying campaigns, these girls are taking charge and showing adults, including myself, just how it’s done. They shatter the stereotype of disengaged teenagers who are selfish and uncaring. And they are not alone. There are Read more…