Search aims to aid world poverty

Net shoppers can raise money for charity as they buy by using a search engine with a social conscience. Rectifi provides search tools similar to those of Google and Yahoo but with a crucial difference. The profit generated from sponsored links, where companies pay for a place in the search rankings, will go to charity. Founder Jonny Platt hopes that donating the money to charity will help redress the imbalance between rich and poor. More than 400 shops have signed up, including Apple, Sony and eBay. Harnessing consumerism is the brainchild of a former fundraiser who has become increasingly frustrated by the gap between western consumerism and poverty stricken developing nations. Determined to do something about it, Mr Platt came up with the idea of using the money people spend online without any cost to consumers or companies. Some 90% of the money raised from the commission generated by online sales and sponsored links will go to charity. The other 10% will go towards running costs. Mr Platt will not draw a wage. "Our aim is simple, to encourage Web users to use their consumerist appetite to raise money for charity," said Mr Platt. "There is no additional effort on the user's part and, with 30,000 people dying every day through abject poverty, and over half the world surviving on less than £1 a day, we all have a responsibility to make changes, no matter how small," he said. Mr Platt came up with the idea of harnessing the spending of money in the West to aid the poor of the developing world while travelling in India. He was shocked by the contrast between the hunger for materialism he had experienced in the UK and the hunger and desperation he found in India. "People were dying of easily curable diseases," he told the BBC News website. On returning to the UK he set up GiveAsYouGet, which has raised thousands of pounds for charities such as Greenpeace, the World Development Movement and VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) since its launch in August 2003. Ethical shopping Mr Platt will shortly take up a VSO post in Vietnam, working with street children. But he will be keeping a eye on the site which has grown from one shop to 400 and a handful of products to over one million. In its new guise as Rectifi, the money raised will initially go to Tourism Concern, a charity working with communities in tourist destinations to reduce social and environment problems. But as the site grows, Mr Platt hopes that the number of charities which receive money can increase. Eventually it may be possible for shoppers to choose where their money should go. "We could have particular sections linked to particular charities so, for example, anyone buying homeware will see their money go to causes helping the homeless," said Mr Platt. As well as providing search facilities and the ability to compare prices, the site will also offer tips on ethical shopping and investment. UKFast is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

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