Thursday, July 12, 2012

The $100 Investment

++ This post updated to add a link to the 13-minute video of the presentation I discuss below. Click here to view Chris Guillebeau's closing presentation.++

What would you do if someone gave you $100 and said they wanted to see how you could put the funds to good use? Perhaps start a project, surprise someone, or do something entirely different. I, along with about 1,000 other people received such a gift at the recent World Domination Summit

This was my second year attending and you can read my recaps from the 2011 events here and here. This year’s event was double the size and just as amazing. I’ll be doing a series of blog posts on the great speakers so I can share the nuggets of wisdom I took away, but I wanted to start with what was actually the end of the conference.

photo credit: Armosa Studio
In the final conference presentation, after two days of kick-ass inspiring speakers, event organizer Chris Guillebeau took the stage, and in his very humble manner recapped the day’s events.  He also noted that an anonymous donor gave a large chunk of money for the conference and that money, combined with profits from the 2012 conference, ended up being enough to give each attendee $100. That’s right, each person got $100, and the message to use it for good.

photo credit: Armosa Studio
On the way out the theater, each attendee was given a sealed envelope with a crisp $100 bill out of a little basket. Folks, that is $100,000 that left the theater to spark change. Money to start projects, support causes, help someone out … it’s pretty amazing when you think of it at that scale. Personally, I felt like I was being trusted to be an excellent steward of the $100.

What to do with the Money? I immediately knew I wanted to match the $100 with $100 of my own money, for a total of $200. I decided to support three people through Kiva and Kickstarter, and also make an investment in myself. Kiva is a microfinance site where you can lend small amounts of money to help individual or groups with their projects.  Kickstarter is a crowd-funding space where people get help to fund projects ranging from art and theater to food and clothing projects. 
Trinidad at her bakery (photo credit:

We are helping Trinidad with her bakery business through Kiva. Trinidad works making and selling a product that’s typical of the Mexican State of Veracruz known as “obleas” (a type of thin wafer). This business is her family’s source of income for her and her three children. Trinidad asked for the loan to buy raw materials and tools which are larger griddles and special pans to make the wafers.She wants to invest in the business because she’s being given the opportunity to sell her products to restaurants and for children’s parties and she’ll be able to provide jobs for other people this way. I put in $75 towards Trinidad's loan request.

Peruvian farmer, Seguno (photo credit:

We are helping Seguno with his farming business through Kiva. Seguno has been farming in Peru for over 30 years growing coffee and bananas. He also has a small grocery store. From this business he gets income to cover their basic necessities. He now hopes to expand his production by purchasing new coffee plants and fertilizer. He will use this loan to buy bags of organic fertilizer for his land and also to buy items for his small store. I put in $75 towards Seguno's loan request.

El Poblano Farm (photo from

We supported the El Poblano Farm project on Kickstarter. This project seeks to expand plantings and start a seed bank for the El Poblano Farm. The farm was established in 2010 by Gudelio Garcia and focuses on the cultivation of traditional Mexican herbs that have not typically been grown or marketed in the US. These are herbs like pipiche, papalo and epazote. In addition the farm produces arugula, baby squash, chard, beets and more. I put in $$30 towards El Poblano Farm's funding request.

Something for me. And finally, I bought something for myself. I bought a pedometer so I could track the number of steps I take a day and steadily increase it. I figure the healthier I am, the more good work I can do in the world. Up to this point, I have taken my health for granted. Now that I am 40, I don't think I can take it for granted any more. While the pedometer was the least expensive investment from a money perspective, I know it has the potential to have a profound personal impact, one step at a time.


Erica Dorn said...

Sofia, thanks so much for supporting El Poblano Farm on Kickstarter. It also happens that Gudelio has received a loan through Kiva. Thanks again for spreading the word and supporting our project.


Sophia said...

Thanks for your comment Erica. Wishing El Poblano farm much success!