Jim Hake, the founder of Spirit of America, came back as its CEO earlier this year. Spirit of America's main focus now is on fulfilling humanitarian requests by U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan. One example is providing radios that Marines can give to Afghans in remote areas, so these Afghans have another source of information about the world besides their local mullahs. Interestingly enough, a commenter on Fred Wilson's blog recently mentioned that it would be a good idea to provide alternate sources of info to Afghans, but his preferred method, if memory serves, involved some expensive and elaborate infrastructure. Since Spirit of America's requests come from troops in the field, they tend to be actionable and pragmatic, e.g., $18 Kaito KA007L radios. Here's a photo from SoA's site of an Afghan with one of these radios:
Toni Maloney, co-founder of Bpeace, offered this update and request today:
Today's a big day in the non-profit world--as Americans make their year-endby midnight.
So I'll keep this brief and say thank you for supporting us in the past. You have helped Afghan and Rwandan women create employment--1,748 jobs to be exact. The intended positive consequences of this is less poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy and violence. Your support brought much-needed sustenance into Afghan and Rwandan households that include 13,742 family members.
By creating jobs, your gift literally keeps on giving.
If you squeeze us into your giving today, you can donate at www.bpeace.org/donate or send a check to Bpeace, .
Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy 2010!
Co-founder and CEO
You can read more on both of these charities below.
Here are two ideas, in the event you're thinking of making a tax-deductible charitable donation for 2008 and don't have a particular charity in mind:
- Spirit of America. Spirit of America fulfills requests for humanitarian aid for locals from U.S. military personnel operating in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa. Some examples have included the provision of wheelchairs for Afghan victims of landmines, water purification technology for Iraqi villages, and solar-powered lanterns for Senegalese. I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Hake, the tech entrepreneur who founded Spirit of America, a few years ago in New York, when he brought with him a couple of Iraqi bloggers (the brothers Omar and Mohammed) he had been working with on a project. What Jim has accomplished with SoA has been impressive. I've also had a chance to meet a couple of Marine officers who have been at the pointy end of the spear, implementing projects with SoA, and what those folks have done has been impressive as well.
- The Business Council for Peace. Bpeace supports women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. Recall that in a recent post ("Questioning the Conventional Wisdom about the Benefits of Microfinance and Encouraging Entrepreneurship") we noted Professor Bateman's criticism of microfinance, that it funds small, "30 chicken farm" types of businesses at the expense of the sort of small and medium businesses that produce more jobs and economic growth. We also noted Scott Shane's similar criticism of American policies that encourage entrepreneurship without discriminating among those entrepreneurs with the best potential to build sustainable businesses. I suspect Professor Bateman and Mr. Shane might approve of Bpeace's approach, which is to identify and vet the "fast runners" (entrepreneurs with the best chance of building sustainable small and medium sized businesses) and back them. The graphic above, from Bpeace's website, summarizes the charity's approach. Incidentally, if you are a businesswoman, getting involved with Bpeace could put you in contact with the sort of successful American businesswomen it could be helpful to know. If you can do well while doing good, all the better.
I hope everyone reading this has a Happy New Year.