"Greetings from Tororo Uganda in the name of our lord Jesus Christ . . . Your money changed the life of my family," the blog post begins, dusting off for the Web age that classic 20th century epistolary form—the letter of embarrassingly effusive thanks from a Third World charity case to a First World bleeding-heart sponsor. But if the rhetoric remains the same, the charity itself—online "microfinance" start-up Kiva—is a creature of harder-nosed times. With Kiva, you sponsor a business, not a family, and it's no donation you make, but a loan. The loans pay no interest, but even so, if you've ever wondered what it might have felt like to be in on Google's first round of financing, Kiva's probably as close as you'll come. Just log in, choose from among business prospectuses ranging from Simon Okiror's "God Blesses" medicine shop to Joseph Opio's "Awasi Goat Keepers," pony up as little as $25 toward the typical start-up cost of $500, and bingo: You're a... More >>>