Today is the actual day - the 15th - as opposed to the day when I wrote the last post on the Blog Action Poverty Day.
One of the interesting things they discuss on their site are Kiva Loans. These are loans made via Paypal or other electronic means which can be used to help someone (usually in the Third World, I presume) start up a small business. The loan is eventually paid back and can be then recycled for someone else.
The basic mechanism of the lending process is here. I've come across similar approaches before, of course (the idea certainly isn't new), but this is the first time I've seen it promoted through the Web in this way. The other difference seems to be that you can combine with a bunch of other lenders to increase the size of the available loan.
The other aspect is that you can actually see who you'll be lending to: there's information about a number of people looking for loans. Some are groups who've got together - or have been together for some time - and some are individuals, like Mastura Chakalova who's been selling children's clothing for nine years in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Tajikistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia; one of its neighbours is Afghanistan and another is China.
The more I look into this scheme (which has been running successfully as a non-profit for at least three years) the more I'm impressed. Check it out!
Better than spending money on that Harley and its Harley parts...