Last year, I wrote about becoming a "couch potato humanitarian"--getting involved with a website called Kiva that allows you to use your PayPal account to make loans of as little as $25 to entrepreneurs around the world.
A year after I made my first loan, to an Azerbaijani butcher named Ilham Adbdulov, I was repaid my amount in full. His business appears to be doing well, and Kiva's field partner in Agsu writes:
Ilham is a young, friendly butcher who operates his business from a station in the Agsu bazaar meat hall. He’s one of about ten butchers who sell meat to the residents of this central Azerbaijani town. Early each morning he meets the rural animal breeders at the bazaar and bargains for his sheep. He can generally purchase a live sheep for about 100 Azerbaijani New Manat (~ 120 US$). He brings the sheep to his stand, butchers them, and has the meat prepared for sale by the time the bazaar opens to customers.
Ilham earns between 4 and 10 AZN (~ 5-12 US$) from each sheep. He used his Kiva-funded loan to purchase sheep, enabling him to offer more meat to the many customers that pass through the bazaar. Azerbaijanis eat a good deal of mutton year-round, so demand remains consistently high. Ilham enjoys his business, and would like to further increase the volume of his sales with future assistance from micro loans.
After my successful experience, I took the money I got back and contributed to a group loan for 15 Peruvian villagers from Yanapampa, ~115 miles northeast of Lima. The loan recipients are "involved in agriculture; care of livestock; sale of tara tree agricultural products, pigs, sheep, goats and cattle; and carpentry service." They plan on using the money to buy "fertilizer, sheep, goats, piglets, and tara trees."
The loan is for six months. I will report back with any interesting updates.