I have always wanted to tie this blog in with another passion of mine – social entrepreneurship.
The Palo Solo Project is a registered 501-C that I launched with a friend of mine, Francesco Mantica. We use Facebook and social networking to connect families in developing countries – specifically Nicaragua – with families/donors here in the US. The money is used primarily for education so that we can, over time, move the village one rung up the economic ladder and get the residents engaged in the global economy. My goal is to learn how to market and sell charity as a product like other goods and services are sold in our society. If properly priced and packaged, I think a lot can be done here. I am on a number of non profit boards and am amazed by the need for and lack of business skills in the sector. With the affiliate button, 4% of every purchase you make (10% for Kindle downloads) goes to families in Palo Solo. If you made all your Amazon purchases though our links, we would get 4% of everything you spend, and it would cost you nothing. All of the proceeds go to help the families. If we make enough, we plan to spend some on buying keywords profitably which would multiply a portion of your gift (let’s see – we will keep you posted).
A little bit about Palo Solo: This is a typical rural village in a developing country. The literal translation is “the lonely stick”. and it has 50 families with about 250 people. It is about 1 hour from Managua and borders a ranch/farm I purchased down there about 7 years ago which has become a decidedly not-for-profit (profitless?) enterprise, though that wasn’t the goal. Nicaragua is one of the poor countries in the Americas alongside Cuba and Haiti.
These families (typically of 5) live on about $600 to $800 per year. The majority of their budget goes to food: a whole family shares about 3 pounds of animal protein a month.
They have dirt floors and thatched walls covered with plastic garbage bags to block out the cold wind that blows relentlessly across the top of the mountain. Despite this, they are happy and bright, with some great core values. Most importantly, they are eager to have their kids educated so that they can escape their economic circumstance. The things that hold them back from doing that are all solvable.
If we can learn how to make targeted micro investments in the village, we can get the kids educated. As they then bring in more money and 'know how', the village can become self-supporting over time. If we can then scale this program to other villages in a self-sustaining model we have a viable option for engaging a big part of the world in the global economy. There are 10 million communities like this in the world today, amounting to 2.5 billion people living in conditions as poor as those in Palo Solo (source 100 People: A World Portrait).
It’s all about education. This is a small project, with an ambitious goal - but then that’s how Silicon Valley was built. If this project does nothing more than help 250 people and inspires someone else more able than me to succeed with this goal, then it’s a home run success. Your book purchases will make a big difference with little effort.
To learn more about the charity please go to (www.palosoloproject.org)