If ball clubs and clothing lines bore you silly as potential investments, consider putting your money where it can do more good and get everybody some shine. Corporate social responsibility is spreading fast. Why? Often a great investment, it garners the kind of notoriety that is usually reserved for those who dip behind enemy lines to do good (yet dangerous) work. So, stay in your mink-covered Barcalounger and tell your accountant to cut a few checks to the following:
Kickstarter – www.kickstarter.com
A platform to support artist of most genres — art, comics, dance, design, fashion, film or video, food, games, music, photography, technology, theater, writing or publishing. This is purely philanthropic, best suited for those who want to support art. Proposed Kickstarter projects undergo a submission process and must adhere to a few simple guidelines: Must be funded at the 100 percent level or higher or no funds will be disbursed to the project’s designee. This keeps project proposal estimates honest and offers some protection for a contributor. The project’s designee (artist) decides what dollar amounts are acceptable and what incentives a donor might receive.
Fanny Franklin’s Soul-oo recording project was funded at 108 percent Oct. 26, 2011; 178 backers with $10,900 raised (project cost was $10, 0000). FASHIZBLACK magazine was funded Aug. 28, 2011; 354 backers with $45,105 raised. (project cost was $40,000).
Women 2.0 – www.women2.org/about/
Per its website, “Women 2.0 is an emerging global media company for aspiring and current female entrepreneurs to launch successful scalable, innovative ventures.” Its annual Pitch event receives over 100 proposals and offers entrepreneurs with beta projects the opportunity to “wow” IT venture capitalists and other investors.
Pitch 2010 winners were: Apply in the Sky to manage your B-school applications, mobile infrastructure of “top ups” to transfer money between consumers at Prepay Nation, and last but not least, BioLumber plastic that is as strong as steel but as light as lumber, saving the world from the plastic vortex.
Kiva – www.kiva.org
Founded by members of the original management teams from Paypal and Tivo, team Kiva makes micro-loans to start-ups and tiny businesses around the world. Potential borrowers are vetted through Kiva Partners, banks and financial institutions in different countries. Several of the more well-known in America are the Grameen Bank, Accion Finance (also an SBA partner) and Credo Financial.
The premise of Kiva is simple: make a loan, get updates, get paid pack, and repeat. The repeat phase is actually an option — you can withdraw your money plus interest earned or opt to roll it forward into another Kiva-backed loan. It’s rather neat to consider that a loan amount can help a sheep herder in Guatemala, repaid and used to help a hair salon in Johannesburg, repaid and used to help a neighborhood snack lady in Atlanta.