I have heard of microfinancing/lending in the past and have wanted to check it out. In the recent issue of Time Magazine, there was satirical article from Joel Stein, grounded in fact, about Kiva.org.
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.
Their motto is: We Let You Loan to the Working Poor
I decided to check it out today, and made two loans, one to Helen Azimi Cloth & Dressmaking Supplies, in Nigeria;
and one to Shahnaz akhtar Waqar Masood Group Manufacturing, in Pakistan.
I started out slow, $25 each, and will periodically let you know what type of correspondence and experiences I have. I am very excited to be able to help others, and to show that the America that a lot of people perceive, it not the only America that there is. That is one of the reasons I chose Nigeria and especially Pakistan.
The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.
Kiva partners with existing expert microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them. When you do, not only do you get a unique experience connecting to a specific entrepreneur on the other side of the planet, but our microfinance partners can do more of what they do, more efficiently.
To learn more, visit their website at: Kiva.org