Use Your Business Success To Help Eliminate Poverty – Blog Action Day

By Yaro Starak
48 Comments

Today is Blog Action Day and this year’s topic is “Poverty”. Last year during Blog Action Day I covered What If The Water Runs Out?, a decidedly dire possibility, which thankfully improved a little in my hometown since I wrote that article (although the problem is far from gone).

This year I want to focus on something positive we can all do as entrepreneurs – we can give something back – in this case, to help people help themselves rise above the poverty line.

I remember clearly the first time I did exactly this, although to be honest I wasn’t doing it because my business was succeeding, I did it because I had just closed a business that failed because I made a mistake.

Very long time readers of this blog will know one of my very first forays into online business was a community website focused on the Magic: The Gathering card game. On my Magic website I opened up a small e-commerce extension, where I sold the cards individually and in sealed cases.

After enjoying moderate success with my online store I made a tragic mistake. I received an order from someone in Thailand for a full case of cards, with a value of about $600. I took the order through an offline credit card processor (called a “click-clack”), but before I did this I phoned the card fraud hotline to make sure the card wasn’t reported as stolen, as per the standard procedures provided by the bank.

The card checked out fine, I charged it for the case and shipped off the product.

Fast forward a few months and I had sent off over $15,000 worth of product to Thailand, when I received a letter in the mail, telling me the very first order had received a charge back request. Basically, the owner of the card had said they had not made the purchase and wanted their money back.

Over the course of the next few weeks over $12,000 was charged back. It was clear my Thai customers were fraudsters, using a stolen credit card, and I had lost a ton of money.

I recovered from that instance after putting in ALL my savings and some money from my father to cover the dept. I was so heartbroken about the situation that I closed the online store shortly after and went into a depression that took several weeks to recover from.

A Bad Situation Inspires A Positive Action

Later that same year I was walking in my local shopping mall and came across the World Vision child sponsorship table. In case you are not familiar with World Vision, they help children and their families in developing countries, by using donation money from “sponsors”, who donate a regular amount to help support a child, the child’s family and local community.

Previously I had ignored the World Vision table, but this time, despite my poor financial situation after the credit card fraud, I felt a need to do something. I scanned the table full of pictures of the children in need of sponsoring looking for a keyword – Thailand. I wanted to sponsor a child in Thailand so he or she didn’t grow up to become a credit card fraudster.

I sponsored my first child that day and supported him until he “graduated” from the program after several years. Since then I’ve sponsored another three children through World Vision.

Although my action was stimulated by something negative in my life, as an entrepreneur I believe it’s our responsibility to help in any way we feel we can – whether our motivation is brought about by business failure or success.

World Vision does a great job at helping to educate and support people in developing nations so they can rise above the poverty standard. In my case I saw a direct correlation between something in my life and an opportunity to give back.

Take some time today to think about how you might be able to do the same and possibly help someone rise above poverty, although it certainly doesn’t have to be through the World Vision organization – there are many other options out there, a Google search for child sponsorship will present many options.

Yaro Starak
Sponsoring Children

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Philanthropy

48 Comments

  • Thank you for adding to Blog Action Day 2008, Yaro.

    “Take some time today to think about how you might be able to do the same and possibly help someone rise above poverty.” – And, I would add, go out and do it do it do it. :)

  • Blog action day sounds great but I feel that it would be better if there was a specific call to action. Like an ability to sponsor one charity. If there way I probably would have sponsored $10 or something. But because there is no called to action then I don’t think I will do anything (just being honest).
    I believe next year my entrepreneurs blog will be successful enough for me to donate a large chunk of it to a charity of my choice.
    Thanks for the heads up on Blog Action Day. I believe it is a great idea but needs some fine tuning

  • It is fascinating to see how social media is being used to promote philanthropic causes. Blog action day is another example of the community coming together to support a good cause – thanks for blogging about it.

    • I heard that the money could go to people if some of that money is not allocated to charity. I think that as a result of this action will bring more benefit to the owner.

  • Hi Yaro,

    I must say that this is probably the best blog post I have ever read. I am very familiar with World Vision. They are a great organization and worthy of anyone’s time and investment.
    All the great entrepreneurs of our time have learned the skill of philanthropy. From Carnegie all the way up to Buffett. I hope this single post spurs a lot of people to give back. It doesn’t have to be World Vision, but I think you could hardly find a better place to start.

    Sincerely,
    Jeremy

  • Somebody once told me we can’t fix the problem until we recongize we have one. I myself lived in a car for a year when things got really bad, but things turned around for me. I believe everyone has the ability to help. We just must find the way that works best for us. Since most of us are bloggers than what better way to help is to blog about it and take some type of action.

    Good post

  • [...] Use Your Business Success To Help Eliminate Poverty [...]

  • How wonderful that you were able to turn a negative experience into something positive! Great way to rack up positive karma. :) (I know, that’s not why you sponsored the child, but hey, we can all use all the good karma we can get, right?)

  • [...] Use your business success to help eliminate Poverty at Entrepreneur’s Journey [...]

  • It’s great that something negative inspired you to take a positive action.

  • I agree with Ryan. There should be a specific call to action. I am now off to write an article for my blog.

    Very well done!

  • helping people succeed and live a better life is the true riches of life

  • JMR

    @ Ryan
    There is a specific call to action, that action is to dedicate your blog to the topic, this gets people thinking about the topic and stops people trying to take the easy way out and just throw $10 towards the cause. Too many people think, “I have paid my $10 and done my bit” Don’t get me wrong, $10 helps tremendously, but poverty is not just about a lack of money, it involves a lack of self-worth, a feeling that you do not matter in this world. $10 cannot fix that, but supporting a child through one of these programs, not only gives them the $10 but gives them a face of the person who gives the money. You are telling the child, “hey someone cares about YOU, I care whether you get an education, I care that you have good drinking water, YOU matter to me”
    In the process of doing this you help a child raise out of the depression of poverty and you also help the child’s parents as well because they come to the realisation that their life matters, they are not alone, they feel like they are partnering with you to bring up their child.

    I pray that we move away from the mentality that we just need to throw money at the worlds problems. This mentality is poisoning our relationships, with our families, friends and fellow human beings. So post on your blog, make the world see that there is a problem, a problem which doesn’t have an easy solution, it entails people getting involved, stepping out of their comfort zones and making a difference.

    I am JMR from My Little Corner on JMRPub.com

    • This is a very wise comment. Man has always sought to work when he knows that someone cares about him. Financial help inform people that the world is not that bad. This is a good thing.

  • Your story is very touching and inspiring. We can all do something or the other for poverty alleviation and I personally believe that I should help in a way that enables the poor. I therefore contribute to a few NGOs that teach people to fish rather than feed them fish!

  • Karma is a great thing. Even after losing all that money to a crook, (who will get his back someday), it’s good it didn’t ruin your attitude toward everything.

  • [...] Use Your Business Success To Help Eliminate Poverty # How To Make Yourself Happier During the Economic Crisis # On Footy and Poverty # 30 Simple Ways [...]

  • Been a sponsor for 7 years myself Yaro, even got pictures of the lad up today! Great cause and one certainly worthy of getting behind.

  • I want you to know that you inspired me to go and sponsor a kid from World Vision. Great Post!

    J

  • Yaro, congratulations on turning a negative experience into a positive outcome for 3 children! That is real power and success.

  • It is true that it is not what happens to us that really matter but how we react afterward. Maybe that undesirable incident was a blessing in disuguise. Though lesson but it generated a positive impact. Nice one.

  • It is true that it is not what happens to us that really matter but how we react afterward. Maybe that undesirable incident was a blessing in disguise. Though lesson but it generated a positive impact. Nice one.

  • it’s great what you did. i’ll look into sponsoring a kid as well when i’m working. :)

    in the meantime, i turn to sites like freerice, kiva, and goodsearch, as ways to help alleviate poverty online.

    saw this post via the front page of blog action day. it’s great that you’re participating. :)

  • Yaro,
    Thank You For This Post! As a beginning entrepreneur I also had highs and lows in my finances. Thru it all I have made giving back a priority. I believe in the power of giving. It is amazing what happens when you learn to give before you get, even when you are struggling. There is definitely a cosmic force at work. In today’s economic conditions I know many people and businesses can find it hard to give back. I think now is the perfect time to give. Because, there are more people that need our help. If every business made giving back even a little a regular part of their business, the incredible change we would see in our country and the world would seem no less than miraculous . I have another business that I have started recently that has yet to turn a profit however, we still sponsor and put on charity events. We do this because it is the right thing to do and sometimes you have to give before you can get. We know the profits will come and then we can help even more people.

  • An inspiring story and a great act of self sacrifice there. You’ve shown how great at heart you are by putting the ugly incident behind you and sponsoring a child from the same place where someone has duped you. I feel more proud of you!

  • Pay it forward Yarro, spreading good kharma (regardless of religious beliefs) is always a good thing… Your a guiding light…

    David J. Parnell
    Communication Expert

  • Wow, that is a great story. I probably would have never wanted to think about Thailand again after such an experience, but you’ve definitely made me pause and think about how I should re-examine my perspectives on failures. Thanks for the thoughts!

  • I give you a lot of credit for turning a negative into a positive. Talk about the power of forgiveness.

    This is a good example of why I chose to be a Blog Mastermind Student. Your attitude and way of looking at life inspire me.

  • Yaro, this is an incredible story. I am so inspired by your experience of having nothing left, but still giving generously. You gave when it seemed impossible, and your situation turned around. I’m glad you never gave up. Thank you for posting this. I really enjoyed it. Happy Blog Action Day!

  • [...] Entrepreneur’s Journey (Yaro Starak) is encouraging readers to sponsor children around the world through their businesses [...]

  • Thanks Yaro, you’re supporting a great cause.

  • Some things happens to us,to show us the way to help someone.
    I always helped friends and some times i had some troubles with my wife and i didnt mind it was a friend a good one…and always sayd to her that i do because i want and i dont want anything back from them…
    Recently a friend from a friend offered me a job in another country receiving very well and i will leave 13.11.08 (i still dont know what to do with my website but…)

    • Friends there precisely to help each other. I do not see any other reason. Assistance to cause a sense of reciprocation in decent people. This means that the world is getting better.

  • I believe that everything happens for a reason. The child you sponsored may have died if it hadn’t of been for your loss.

  • Absolutely Inspiring!

  • You said, “I believe it’s our responsibility to help in any way we feel we can – whether our motivation is brought about by business failure or success.” Those are good words to live by, thank you for stating them so well!

    Kim Washetas
    http://scoutforsuccess.com

  • Wow. That was a great post. I can’t imagine taking a hit like that just when things were looking like you had a winner of a business going. But you turned it around and it’s inspirational! Thanks, it’s helping me out in my current situation.

    P.S. Your blog mastermind program is top notch. I’m enjoying the audios and you’ve changed the way I’m doing business myself.

  • Hey Yaro, I loved reading your story here thanks for sharing. It’s great that you turned it around by helping out 4 children from World Vision. Awesome :-)

  • Yaro,

    A perfect post.

    As the former Manager of Writing Services for World Vision, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see a totally non-stereotypical, positive response to the experience you had with the fraudster in Thailand. Wow, what a generous thing you did.

    I’m still a huge fan of World Vision and wrote my Blog Action Day post about Abadou, a one-year-old boy whose life was saved by World Vision doctors in the deserts of Mali. There are many, many other outstanding nonprofits, but the work WV does in developing countries still touches me deeply.

    Thanks for the story.

    Judy

  • Some good always come out of some bad. It is inspiring to note that you did not get embittered but strove to do something to change things a bit for the better.

  • awesome post Yaro, i contribute whenever i can to a good cause, but i have to thank my fiancee for that, i only realized how much we can help when instead of having a birthday party, she located an orphanage of 200 kids and threw a party there instead, it was an amazing gesture and its something i will remember for the rest of my life.

    personally i missed blog action day so i couldn’t do my part but your story is very inspiring is a great example of turning a bad situation into a good one..

  • Sorry to hear that you lost $12.000 because of the fraudster, but hey at least that inspired you to donate and help children so that they wont be grown up as a credit card fraudster

  • Yaro, that sort of behaviour really upsets me as their are so many non profit organisations that need to money and support.

    For anyone that is interested there is a non-profit organisation here in South Africa that I donate money too and I have been to see were my money goes and they are really amazing.

    So if anyone is interested there website address is http://www.ekukhanyeni.org/

    You can donate from as little as R120 per month, which is only $10 and that goes a long way.

  • Great post. Sorry to hear you got taken so bad by the poor people in Thailand. They probably assume we’re walking on golden sidewalks and rolling in money in the great USA so it doesn’t matter what horrible things they do to us. Yeah right I wish.
    I think it was incredibly how you decided to turn you horrible experience with Thailand into an opportunity to reach out and to give instead of an opportunity to become racist. I think you got it. You understood why they did what they did – which was most likely because they’re poor and you did something to help fix the problem instead of just hating them. I say you must be a very intelligent man and I respect you for your though process. I also participated in Blog Action day.. :)
    I didn’t have a lot of time so it’s not amazing just made a simple point.
    http://divageekdesigns.com/2008/10/16/poverty-if-nothing-else-speak-upblog-action-day/

  • I am very surprised and delighted that I have read. I think every man should think the same. People should help improve this imperfect world.

  • The more you give the more you get. Not to say that that you must give to get. Its the natural flow of everything, its the fair exchange of energy.

  • Thank you for such an inspiring story, and if it had not been for Blog Action Day I could never have found your blog. It’s amazing to see how you turned such a negative experience into something positive, and believe me, it affected many more lives than just those three children you sponsored.

  • Child sponsorship is a great way to make a difference for a child less fortunate. There are other ways you can make a positive impact as well, such as hosting a charitable event or giving some of your free time to a charity.

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