Charitable organizations have long made it possible to sponsor a child in a poor country. Kiva lets you sponsor a business in a poor country.
By choosing a business on our website and then lending money online to
that enterprise, 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 monthly email updates that let you know about the progress
being made by the small business you’ve sponsored. These updates
include reports on loan repayment progress, photos of new capital
equipment, narratives on business growth and standard of living
improvements, and more. As loans are repaid, you will get your original
loan money back.
Kiva has recently been discovered by the web and so they are currently out-of-businesses to sponsor (which is a good sign), but it’s a great idea and I intend to sponsor a business as soon as one becomes available.
Thanks to Pablo Halkyard for the pointer.