Kiva the Faith

Bankroll a Business in Uganda

Anyone who knows you well—or has dated you—will attest: You're a giver.

It's just that sometimes circumstances beyond your control make it impossible to lend as much as you'd like to the Third World (sorry, Bono). Which is why you'll love Kiva.org.

A charitable win-win (or at least a win-tie), Kiva lets you act as a microfinancier for worthy but underfinanced entrepreneurs in developing countries—with the promise that you'll one day see your money again. To get your life as a creditor started, simply go to Kiva.org and click through its well-organized database of people who need a loan to keep their modest business afloat. (You can view pictures and read the stories of any of the candidates—from Santos Lopez, a general storekeeper in Honduras who's looking to diversify her inventory, to Daima Kondo, a charcoal retailer in Tanzania who'd like a delivery car.)

Once you've selected the prescreened, hardworking individual you'd most like to invest in, you can make a direct loan of as little as $25 (though we know you've got more in you than that). From there, you'll receive e-mail updates about the project you're funding, and over time (usually 6-12 months) your loan will be collected and returned to you, at which point you have the option of withdrawing your funds (good deed done) or reinvesting in another worthwhile venture (there are always more good deeds to do).

And just think: You'll always have a place to get charcoal in East Africa.

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