Via Ping, I just discovered Kiva which seems an absolutely FANTASTIC idea to me. It’s an enabling site, allowing anyone in the world to provide small loans to specific entrepreneurs — the long tail of banking.

There are two reasons that I think this is fantastic: Firstly, it’s a LOAN. The entrepreneurs pay the money back, although obviously there is some risk that if their venture fails you won’t get your cash back. However, you can part-fund a loan and so it’s pretty easy to balance your risk by offering small loans to a number of people. Secondly, it’s NOT charity. Many people in developing countries are doing OK for themselves — they don’t need charity, but can benefit hugely from a no-interest loan. And if it’s money that first-worlders could happily give away, then everyone benefits.

Non-consumerist presents are all the rage this Xmas — from Alpaca packages to Terrapasses. I just wanted to encourage people to think about this option too — after all, at the end of the day it costs you nothing!