Global Lingo Blog

Kiva, microfinancing through translation

Last week I briefly touched upon the subject of languages becoming extinct, something which happens quite frequently around the world. I thought I would come back to this subject, having caught up with my friend Ben Keene (of tribewanted fame) last night who put an idea into my head.

Ben is heavily involved in CSR, overseas development projects and responsible tourism. We were discussing how Global Lingo, as a UK based translation and transcription company, could have a positive impact abroad, either through charitable donations, through funding development projects, or even through funding entrepreneurs in developing countries through a process know as microfinancing. The latter has taken off quite recently through such sites as Kiva which has a very impressive model.

I have always been of the thought that it is better to make as money as possible through your company (obviously in an ethical and responsible way), then to give whatever chunk of that money you want away to a charity. And I still believe that is a great way of doing things – look at Bill Gates and his massive foundation in partnership with Warren Buffet.

However there is another school of thought, which Ben belongs, which is to make your enterprise socially responsible from the start, and give away part of your profit on an ongoing basis to good causes. As a translation company based in the UK we have very little negative impact on anything, if any. We encourage home-working, which cuts down on travel and therefore pollution, all our work is sent by email, and to that effect we are a paperless business. The majority of our employees are freelance (over 1000 people now) with only 10 who need to come to an office everyday. We don’t invest in unethical businesses and we certainly would never carry out any services for an unethical or immoral business. Therefore we are pretty harmless really. However we are not currently involved in any charitable or development work, either in the UK or overseas, and thus one would be correct in saying that we are not exactly having a positive impact in the charitable and socially responsible arena either.

I am going to look at Kiva in more detail over the coming months, and work out whether there is a way somehow that we can get ourselves, and our clients involved in microfinancing projects in areas where languages are dying out, in an attempt to give a new lease of life to these areas of the world which aren’t receiving investment, and are literally dying out. I have yet to think about the best way to do this, but it could involve donating a percentage of our profit to such projects, or it could involve encouraging our clients who have links with these areas to microfinance a scheme.

Watch this space.

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