What if you suddenly became a luxury travel reviewer for a famous publication—asked to evaluate Aquitaine caviar, Black Pearl cognac, and gold-plated bathrooms from Dubai to Malaysia to Bali—all while Michelin-rated chefs and hotel managers watched your every move?
And what if — even as you bluffed and bumbled your way through the fancy stuff — you found yourself forced to confront the difficult living conditions for most people in most of the places you visited? What if the Platinum Lounge supplying your cocktails had been built by near-slave laborers still working nearby in 105-degree heat, constructing the next swank hotel right next door?
Wouldn’t you want to use your 5-star hotel money to make these other people’s lives better? But how?
Bob Harris’s answer: plowing every penny of his luxury paychecks (a total of about $20,000) into thousands of tiny loans to small entrepreneurs in more than 65 countries, then following his money around the globe, from Peru to Bosnia to Rwanda to Cambodia and onward, visiting online lending platforms — especially Kiva.org — local microfinance institutions, and ultimately some of the recipients themselves.
The International Bank of Bob is Bob’s fast-paced and surprisingly funny live presentation—now also a Bloomsbury book—on where, why, and how it’s all working out—and how audience members can feel deeply connected to helping good people all over our incredibly interconnected world, too.
Bob Harris is an author, comedian, TV writer (Bones, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), travel writer, and quiz show champ (Jeopardy!, Greed) who was hired in 2008 by Forbes Traveler to help compile their annual list of the world’s finest accommodations—but was often overwhelmed by the brutal contrast between the world’s rich and poor. His original $20K has now been loaned and repaid through Kiva.org more than six times over, generating more than $135,000 and helping to fund more than 5200 businesses, all with a better than 99 percent repayment rate.
His new book and live presentation, The International Bank of Bob (Walker/Bloomsbury), are meant to bring you personally closer to the challenges, hard work, and creativity of the recipients as you share Bob’s travels and the joyous, wrenching, and hopeful adventures along the way.
“…Bob did a great job. We couldn’t have been happier.” Skip Burzumato, Director of Endowed Lectures – Bridgewater College
“Bob was amazing, as expected! The event was wonderful and we could not be more pleased.” — Natasha Schultz, High School Program Director – Pacific and Asian Affairs Council
“He was terrific. The children and adults alike loved him.” — Deborah Richman, Head of School – Turning Point School
“Both of our events went fantastically well. Bob hit a real home run. He was a complete trooper. He didn’t finish signing books until about 10:30, but treated every student to the last like they were an old friend. He’s probably experiencing hand cramps this morning from all the books he signed. Everyone I’ve talked to today said they thought the event went great. Thanks so much for all your help in getting Bob to our campus.” — Dr. Emerson D. Case, Director Liberal Studies Program – California State University, Bakersfield
“Bob was incredible. Just amazing. I’ve never felt more inspired and inadequate at the same time! In donor relations, we strive to show our donors how their gifts have made a difference. Bob gave example after example of how his gifts changed people’s lives for the good. I can’t imagine a better feeling! Kudos to Bob for giving Kiva and micro lending the exposure and credibility they deserve.” — Debbie Meyers, Senior Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship – University of Maryland
“Bob Harris got our conference off to a great start as the keynote speaker. His energy and passion hooked the audience right from the beginning on how each one of us can make a difference in someone’s life.” — Leslie Folmer Clinton, Associate Vice President for External Affairs – Shippensburg University
“What a great guy and great speaker. .. It really was a great night….I love Bob!” — Dave Zamansky, Assistant Director Memorial Union – University of New Hampshire
“Bob was absolutely wonderful last week – I’m very happy our committee decided to bring him! He was a joy to be around and had a truly great message.” — Katy Rand, Coordinator of Student Leadership – University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
“He was AWESOME!! Heard a lot of “best community life of the year!” out of students after.” — Steve Morell – Pacific Ridge School
“Of all the collaborations I’ve had…yours was by far the best in every way. You are a fantastic presenter — your enthusiasm and positive energy is so infectious one could feel it in the room, and your interest in and concern for the social entrepreneurs there were so obviously genuine and endearing! Many I spoke with at the reception said your talk left them embracing your message and ideals.” Barbara Rea, Assembly Series & Special Projects, Office of Public Affairs, Washington University in St. Louis
“Yesterday was AMAZING… We had a field of sunflowers… we provided hope.. we were able to share that message and guests left inspired. Our theme was Making a Difference… and we collectively do… but the power starts with one on one impact… helping one person at a time… interacting one on one… treating all we me with dignity and respect… and helping out when we can. Your friend, Bob is now our friend Bob.” — Lisa Sullivan – Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation
“Thank you so much for joining us on Friday! I have heard several positive remarks about your presentation. Many students are commenting about how you inspired them and were very grateful for the connections you made.” — Erica D’Eramo, Director of New Student Programs – Cedar Crest College
“Funny, tender, and incisive… filled with astonishing anecdotes and indelible characters… no book this important should be this delightful.”
— Joss Whedon, filmmaker, Hollywood’s (and the world’s) top-grossing director of 2012
“Leaves you feeling stronger, more connected to the world, and full of hope… joyous, humane, and inspiring.”
— Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief, Huffington Post Media Group
“Shows us how to save the world without being an insufferable prig… enlightening, inspiring, and entertaining.”
— Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
“Bob Harris goes literally (and literarily) to the ends of the earth in order to see first-hand the effects of his microfinancing loans. A writer with a big heart and a keen eye, [his work] will make you feel optimistic, inadequate, informed, fortunate, awful, and edified. It may also inspire you to help change the world.”
— Hart Hanson, creator, executive producer, and writer, Bones