1. Play it forward with Akoha
Akoha is a game. You buy a deck of cards, each of which contains a simple, altruistic, real-world mission: buy someone a cup of coffee, and so on. Once you perform the mission, you pass the card on, and the recipient registers it on the website. You gain karma points and they then use the card on someone else.
Okay, so if you were cynical, you could say that it’s a cunning way to piggyback viral marketing onto peoples’ good intentions, because you need to buy the cards and visit the website to make the game work. And there’s something a bit funny about literally earning points from doing good things. But it rests on a great idea: doing lots of little things for other people adds up to something big, which will ultimately provide its own rewards. I’ve purchased the starter kit, and I’ll let you know how it goes.
2. Lend to a third world entrepreneur through Kiva
Kiva allows you to directly lend to individual entrepreneurs in the third world. You flick through a gallery of candidates, which explains how much they need and what they’re going to use it for, and can then loan them $25 as easily as buying a book on Amazon or ordering pizza from Domino’s. Kiva fellows blog about their experiences (here’s a recent post about Honduras) and give the impression that the money is being used well.
Part of me feels like you should be able to put your money into a balanced package of third world entrepreneurial investments: because each entrepreneur is browsed through and loaned to individually, there’s a danger that a viable and important endeavour will be passed over because it doesn’t appeal as much to western sensibilities. Also, microloans have had their critics. However, the management of the loan is outsourced to Kiva’s field partners in each country, which implies that the entrepreneur will receive local support, and the implementation seems solid.
3. Finance music you like with Slicethepie
Slicethepie allows you to invest in new music in much the same was as Kiva allows you to invest in third world entrepreneurs, except that while Kiva’s recipients are people who generally live in great poverty in very harsh conditions, the recipients here are kids with impeccably ruffled hair who quite possibly live in Shoreditch.
Nonetheless, this is a great chance to help make an impact on the music industry. If you find a band you like on the site, you can put a little money in the pot to help them record and release a full album. In return you get some free tracks and a return on your investment if the album proves to be popular, as well as the knowledge that your money has gone to music you like from an indepdent artist rather than an album commercially tailored to be suitable for your demographic.
I’d love to hear any recommendations you have; let me know in the comments.