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Investing

Make Money Doing Good

You can help others -- and earn a little cash for yourself -- by purchasing a community investment note.

Margaret and Fred Nsubuga live on a farm outside Kampala, Uganda, one of the poorest countries in the world. Thanks to small-business loans from Uganda Microfinance Limited, the two have been able to increase their small flock of chickens to more than 700, build coops, purchase grain and supplies, and pay for their children's education.

Community-investment projects such as the one that helped the Nsubugas compose one of the fastest-growing segments of the nonprofit sector. Individuals pool their money to lend capital to some of the two billion people who lack access to credit, and the lenders get a decent return on their investment.

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For $1,000, you could purchase a five-year Calvert Foundation Community Investment Note that sends 100% of your money to micro lenders and community developers. During the term of the note, your money will be recycled into a number of loans, multiplying the impact of your initial contribution as much as fivefold.

A five-year Calvert Foundation note pays up to 3% interest, compared with the current 4.7% national average for a five-year CD, according to Bank Rate Monitor. (With a 0.2% default rate and $12 million ready to absorb losses, no investor has lost a penny in the foundation's ten-year history.) The bottom line: You'll make about $100 less in interest than with a CD but accumulate an incalculable amount of good karma. Find other such investment opportunities for projects both abroad and in the U.S. at www.communityinvest.org.

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