What Mark are You Leaving on the World?

In 2007 one of my friends from Zillow posted a Facebook message mentioning Kiva, that was my first encounter with the notion of microfinance and I was intrigued enough to continue researching and learning more about the organizations and communities working within this space. Later that year, my passion for it grew exponentially when a close friend working in the Dominican Republican sent me an email detailing the work she had been doing during her first month at a local NGO; it was the most powerful email I’ve ever read in my life. Just six months later I co-founded myKRO.org, and since then I have worked to grow awareness for microfinance alongside of my professional interests.

Why?

At the core, much of my professional life has been dictated by my desire to leave this world better than when I entered it in June of 1982. Once I witnessed true poverty, I just couldn’t ignore the global wealth disparities without using my time and positions to help catalyze positive change. Microfinance is the most sustainable means of alleviating poverty that I’ve come across. Helping people not go hungry now is, of course, needed in the short-term. Building new houses is great. These are both constant holes needing to be filled, and no matter how much money you throw at those problems, the need stays the same. For long-term, sustainable change, the people and communities need  a vested interest in the process and outcome. Providing them the capital and training to better their own lives is the mechanism for them to bring themselves out of poverty.

Over the past several years of constant travel, I was constantly frustrated there was no great way to find other microfinance advocates in the cities I visited, no cohesive place to find quality information and people working on microfinance within that specific commmunity. Organizing individuals online is powerful, but when you can take that online familiarity and bring people together in person, the connection, creative, and network is exponentially more powerful.

That’s when the real magic happens.

So, I set out to build a better solution to help connect like-minded folks all over the globe. My belief is that one of the best things that can be done is to bring together the doers in the world in person. Being around others who are also working toward positive change is the best motivation you can provide someone, myself included. These like-minded people are the ones with the ability to show you what is truly possible, because they are pushing the envelop every single day. On that point, reading Mountains Beyond Mountains (Tracy Kidder’s account of Paul Farmer’s life) humbled me; I highly recommend reading his work.

I believe that if we care about something, we should do something about it. Don’t be passive.

“If you’re not making someone else’s life better, you’re wasting your time.”

It doesn’t matter how, it just matters that you are doing something to better the lives of others.

When I joined the global community of individuals also invested in microfinance, in taking this path toward creating positive global change, I choose to eschew the notion that I should merely use my time to plot and scheme my way up the corporate ladder, collecting material possessions and <em>stuff. </em>While there is a time and place for everything in life, we all have the ability to focus our time and assets on creating a better world for the millions and billions of people.

I urge you to ask yourself, “What mark are you leaving on the world? How are people going to remember you?  Do you care?”

And in asking this series of questions, I find myself motivated to continue advocating for not only positive change, but for the power of microfinance to catalyze those changes in the world.

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Oh Hey World and myKRO.org and a global nomad from Seattle. Former Zillow community builder. Entrepreneur. Microfinance advocate. Travel addict. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva. Find him on Twitter @drewmeyers

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