My wife and I have given $3 million – almost all our business profits over the past 13 years – in loans that help poor people start businesses. Living happily on our Social Security checks gives us the slack to give away more.
In mid-life, my wife and I started a travel company, Idyll Ltd., Untours to help Americans travel to Europe more meaningfully than the standard superficial tour. We worked thirty years to build up a model company. From the start, we experimented in many ways: our office is run on renewable energy; all our employees can “sample the wares” by traveling free in Europe; our profits were shared with employees (an experiment we started in the businesses’ second year).
It wasn't always easy. During the Gulf War, travel was down; our company barely pulled through. The next year, I decided to put the profits where they would really make a difference: to support tiny business ventures in areas where people have so little.
Our company’s foundation, Untours Foundation, has loaned $3 million since 1993. Half our loans have been in eastern Pennsylvania. For example, we made a loan to Home Care Associates, a cooperative staffed mostly by former welfare recipients who provide care to home-bound people. 20% have been international, such as a loan to the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil to help them buy unused land for landless farm families. The meaning of my life is about how we’re making people's lives better.
Having lost about $1 million in bad loans, we're trying to learn to lend smarter. But we're willing to take big risks. I’ve always been a risk-taker. I started out as a Colorado cattle rancher, and three times I ditched one career and went into something completely different. People praise me for my generosity, but frankly, it's my way of getting kicks out of life.
| Northeast | 60 plus Years Old | $1-$10M | at least 90% | Business |
| International | Joy |