Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Couch Potato Humanitarian

From my D'back column today:
Most college students, myself included, often think that we as individuals can't do much when it comes to tackling a big problem such as world poverty. It's the kind of issue where creating Facebook groups, wearing colored wristbands, attending rallies on McKeldin Mall and yes, writing in The Diamondback don't have much of a real-world impact.

Time and money are generally what it takes to make a difference, and college students are short on both. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don't have to worry about paying for tuition, housing and drinks at Cornerstone. And students don't have much time to think about changing the world in between classes, internships, homework, parties, the gym and so forth.

That's why it was with great interest that I read New York Times writer Nick Kristof's recent column, "You, Too, Can Be a Banker to the Poor." He wrote about a website called Kiva (, which allows anyone to make direct loans through PayPal to specific entrepreneurs in Third World countries.


My first loan went to an Azerbaijani man named Ilham Abdulov, who owns a small butcher shop in a bazaar in the city of Agsu. He's a young, portly, jovial-looking guy who has run his shop for four years. Ilham needs money to buy more animals so that he can expand his business. He has agreed to pay me and the other lenders (several from across the U.S., but also one from Spain and another from Japan) back in 12 to 16 months.


If a lack of time and money aren't an excuse, then what are you waiting for?

Click to read the entire column.

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