Help someone interested in world travel connect with a sweet-potato seller in Tanzania or a butcher in Nicaragua through Kiva.org. This is the San Francisco nonprofit that uses the Internet to link small lenders with entrepreneurs in 187 countries, including the United States.
Gift certificates (www.kiva.org) for $25 are available for loans that can be made to small business people whose bio, pictures and business appear on the site.
Kiva had some explaining to do recently after a blogger raised questions about how funds are disbursed by the microfinance organizations with whom Kiva partners. Details are in the "About" section on the Kiva Web site. Click on "Kiva Blog."
Shop for art and handicrafts at stores dedicated to supporting fair wages and working conditions for artisans in poor countries. The owners of these "fair trade" shops are usually well-traveled with firsthand knowledge of the country and crafts people.
The possibilities are more than I have room to list, so please add your own suggestions in the "comments" section online at the end of this column.
Among my favorite holiday-shopping stops is Ten Thousand Villages, 6417 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle, where Mennonite Church volunteers run a store stocked with the work of artisan groups in 38 countries.
Finland's new pandas enjoy snow - Finland's new pandas were being allowed outside for the first time since arriving in the country last month.
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