Check out http://www.kiva.org/ when you have a few extra minutes. You can read all about the program on their site, but basically Kiva finds men and women in poor or underdeveloped countries who are looking to start a business (or find funding to improve an existing business) and need a little help. When you enter the site you scroll through the list of people looking for help and choose from that list the person you'd like to help most. You are only allowed to lend $25 to each person, and this particular person has a certain amount of time to pay the loan back. Once your loan is repaid, you have the option to withdraw your money and go about your merry way, or reloan the money to another person in need. Neat, right?
I received an e-mail this morning that the first person I lended money to has paid the loan back and so I've decided to reloan the 25 bucks. This time around, I chose Eulalia Barrientos Apaza from Juliaca, Peru. I'm going to call her "E" from here on in because writing out Eulalia Barrientos Apaza each and every time will make me mental. E has a small knitting and weaving business. She started out knitting gifts for family and friends and people loved her goods so much they encouraged her to knit full time. The business is a success, but now E would like to open a workshop to knit and weave in.
So many of the people looking for help through Kiva are incredibly poor and really need help. The best part about Kiva, though, is how far into people's pockets they have reached. More times than not, I've signed on to the site and they have NO lendees left. How cool.
Check it out if you're feeling the lurve today...it IS Valentine's day after all.