The other day, I saw my Kiva widget feature a Guatemalan man in need of a micro loan to purchase weaving looms for his business (oh, be still my heart! I love me a weaving man!).
But before I go on though, "Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe." (that's from their website).
You can help someone build a business by lending him a minimum of $25. Let's say he needs $100, three other people would be joining you to complete his loan request. The money is funneled through a local microfinance company managing the entire affair and as the loan gets paid, you get your investment back in no time. You can then lend it out again to another entrepreneur, and even add more money into the pool to help more people.
I started with Kiva last year to help a single mother set up her little store in Africa. Got my investment back a few months alter, and the other day, I re-invested it into this man's weaving business. The photo of him with his loom was enough for me - he needed to buy more looms so he could weave more.
You can browse through many of the people around the world in need of micro-loans and help out. Twenty five dollars is all you need to get started. I can't wait to see how this man builds his weaving business - we're into fiber after all and need to watch each others' back, eh?