Having travelled in some of the poorest countries in the world has made me incredibly grateful for what I have. I may not be a wealthy woman by western standards (I don't own a car, a home or earn a hefty salary) but compared to women my age in Africa, South America and Asia I'm doing well. And since I believe that we all have a responsibility in life to 'give back I was immediately drawn to the charity 'Lend With Care,' when put in touch with them three years ago.
Lend With Care is a revolutionary new way of supporting people in developing countries, specifically with the aim of helping them help themselves. Essentially, it works on the principle of micro-finance - helping small businesses and entrepreneurs (quite often on low incomes) that do not have access to traditional banking routes.
The organisation was set up five years ago, and it's incredibly easy to join. Just browse their website for small businesses they are currently supporting...at the moment, for instance, they are raising funds for 82 different people/co-operatives. They could be living in Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Ecuador, Pakistan, to name but a few countries. Read their individual stories...how they grew up, what they've done so far to make a living, how much they are looking to borrow and what they intend to use the loan for.
You then loan them a minimum off $25 (£19) and wait for them to pay you back in instalments - usually over 6 to 12 months. What's important to remember is that you're giving them a loan - not a handout - and the means to work their way out of poverty.
Lend With Care has a very low default rate so you'll almost certainly get your money back. Then you can withdraw it via Paypal or (as myself and most lenders choose to do) plow the money into another lender.
So far, I've made a number of loans to people across the globe, including a women's collective in Zambia (that sell second-hand clothes at local markets, as well as supporting children whose parents have died of AIDS), a Vietnamese farmer who used his loan to buy seed to sow, and a woman in Pakistan who supports her family by sewing embroidered blankets. The great thing about this charity is that they also give you updates on the people you're supporting - so you know exactly how they're progressing.
I can't tell you how happy I've been to find Lend With Care. I know where my money is going - directly to people who very much need help, but can't go down the normal roads we in the West would. Moreover, as someone who believes heartily in women making their own money, you're doing a seriously good deed when you help women here. Not only are you helping them break free from poverty, you're also ensuring they have more opportunities to leave abusive/forced marriages and relationships (unfortunately, all too common).
So take a look at their website here and please consider joining....
If you believe (as I do) that we all have a moral obligation to help others, then you'll be hard pressed to find a better way of doing it.