Kiva.org, a San Francisco nonprofit with international reach, connects westerners with disposable income with entrepreneurs needing microloans — typically, a few hundred dollars to expand a home-based business. Kiva’s website features pictures of would-be recipients and allows would-be lenders to finance their projects. According to the group, ninety-seven percent of loans are repaid on time; the total default rate is less than 1%.
Until this summer, Kiva focussed on lending (what in the U.S. are) small amounts of money for third-worlders (pictured at left, a group of farmers in Kyrgyzstan). Kiva was so successful that in December they actually ran out of people to lend money to and had to turn away lenders. So starting in June, the group began allowing American entrepreneurs to solicit money on the site. This has led to a backlash as some Kiva lenders protest that Americans don’t need the money bad enough.
Whatever. There are still plenty of deserving third world people on the kiva.org website who need your money, and will pay it back with interest.