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Most of us earmark a portion of our incomes for the purpose of helping those less fortunate. But how do we know we won’t fall into a scam and fatten the pockets of an unscrupulous group or individual? Here’s how: work only with groups that have been proven over time to be above-board and totally honest. is such a group. Founded in 2005 by Matt Flannery and Jessica Lackley, the group has their headquarters in San Francisco. Currently has distributed over 300 million dollars in small micro-finance loans. The loans are searched out and given online and can be made to either individuals or groups of people with a business plan. Loans can be as small as $25 or as large as you wish.

Here’s how it works:

You search the site and select a person or group to grant a loan. You fill in the information and make your money available. Then you watch for updates on the repayment of the loan over time. As the borrower repays the money, it returns to your Kiva account as Kiva credit.

You are free to withdraw your money or use it again to make a new loan.

Projects can be any small business that an individual can dream up. It might be buying items to begin a small hair salon, selling food items, selling clothing items, selling baked goods or garden tools. Very often the profits earned by the entrepreneur are used for the education expenses of his or her children or grandchildren. While there is some risk involved in making a micro-loan, the repayment rate for is 98.96%.

Microloans are wonderful gifts to people who otherwise would never have a chance to start a business. You’ll find a great deal of satisfaction in tracking the progress of the person of group you support. And a micro-loan project makes a great teaching tool for your entire family. Why not take a look for yourself and give it a try?