I had heard about this website quite a while ago, but for some reason, I didn't remember it and link it. Fortunately, I ran across it again and am determined to correct my error: featuring – Kiva: From their About Page:
Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.
Now, I haven't tried kiva.org yet, but I intend to do exactly that, and you can bet that once I do, I will blog the experience for everyone. Kiva has had some remarkable press, but then again, so have quite a few other organizations… some of which turned out to perform, well, quite poorly in the end. I won't post links to those examples, but unless you've lived under a rock for the last three decades, you can probably pick a few busts.
Needless to say, microfinance sounds like a wonderful idea whose time has come. Become an international financier!