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Live from Pop!Tech: Today’s Social Capitalist Assignment

Overwhelmed by the thought of tackling world poverty? Join the club. When you hear that three billion people live on less than $2 a day, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Overwhelmed by the thought of tackling world poverty? Join the club. When you hear that three billion people live on less than $2 a day, it’s hard to know where to begin.

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Enter Kiva, a super convenient microfinancing nonprofit started by husband and wife entrepreneurs Jessica and Matt Flannery, who were inspired by Grameen Bank’s Muhammad Yunus. You go to the Kiva site, choose a cash-strapped entrepreneur in the developing world, and lend him or her money (as little as $25, via Pay Pal) to grow the business. “I wanted to get involved in international development,” Jessica told the Pop!Tech crowd. “But I wasn’t sure how. How does a random white girl from middle-class Pitsburgh get involved?”

In the two years since starting Kiva, the Flannerys have helped more than 20,000 Third-World entrepreneurs gain access to more than $13 million in funds.

You can make loans as an individual and as a group. So. How about teaming up today with your colleagues? Make a loan and track the progress of that business. You get your money back along with the satisfaction of helping an entrepreneur.

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About the author

Chuck Salter is a senior editor at Fast Company and a longtime award-winning feature writer for the magazine. In addition to his print, online and video stories, he performs live reported narratives at various conferences, and he edited the Fast Company anthologies Breakthrough Leadership, Hacking Hollywood, and #Unplug

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