It's just like MySpace ...

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... except instead of making friends and scoring dates, Westerners with a little extra cash (and a philanthropic bent) meet needy third-worlders looking for low-interest microloans. Inspired by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning efforts of microfinance guru Mummamad Yunus, San Francisco-based nonprofit Kiva.org lists the profiles of small business owners in the developing world (or those who'd like to start a small business), and the profiles of donors who've lent money to them. It's a bit like child sponsorship, except there's comparatively little overhead, and according to Kiva, a greater than 95% chance you'll get your money back.

Here's an except from one borrower's profile. After you read enough of these, I find it hard not to start clicking "LOAN NOW!"

Born on 11th October 1978 at Tsévié, Madame Dzogbényuié AGBEZIA has got the chance to attend school up to the upper low class. Since her father's death, things became more difficult as her mother hasn't any income-generating activity to assure her school fees. Adopted by an uncle, she has served as house girl and babies keeper. Five years ago, she married a tailor with whom she has got two children. A woman of good character, she has succeeded to develop customers who trust her entirely. But, her financial means are very limited to respond to her customers' numerous demands and requirements. She requests a credit of $900 to buy haberdashery items to strengthen her business. This will allow her to grow her income and consequently contribute to her living conditions and that of her family.

December 22, 2006 - 8:13am
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