I found this very interesting. Maybe you will too.
Excerpt from the Green Gazette column of Mother Earth News:
When Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economics professor and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, started his experiment of loaning tiny sums of money to impoverished villagers in 1976, he set in motion a new financial industry known as micro-lending.
In 2005, Matt and Jessica Flannery revolutionized micro-lending with Kiva.org. ……..
Working through more than 60 partnering microfinance institutions in some 35 countries that screen and mentor borrowers, Kiva is the first and only Internet microfinancer that allows you to select whom you wish to fund and how much you wish to loan. The loans are then distributed on a monthly basis to borrowers.
Borrowers understand, and even insist, that the funds are not charity, and that they will be paid back at the end of the contract period.
Visit the organization at: www.kiva.org