I love the Kiva way of microloans. It is extremely easy to begin with practically no risk. I also like the idea that I can put some money to work in a place where it can do some real economic good.
There is power in revolving money. So, an investment plan with microloans is a smart idea. You loan the money and it comes back, then you loan it again. Repeat cycle until poverty is erased.
It makes sense to build small monthly amount to invest into your monthly budget. Most people's budgets are tight, but finding a way to shoehorn in $25 per month would be terrific. It would create the habit and then when there is more money from that raise or from tax returns or stimulus money, then you can up it.
Here is a modest attempt at a plan for people without tons of extra money:
Year 1: $25/month = $300/Year = $300total ivestment
Year 2: $25/month = $300/Year = $600total investment
Year 3: $50/month = $600/Year = $1200total investment
Year 4: $50/month = $600/Year = $1800total investment
Year 5: $75/month = $900/Year = $2700 total investment
Year 6: $75/month = $900/Year = $3600total investment
Year 7: $100/month = $1200/Year = $4800 total investment
Year 8: $100/month = $1200/Year = $6000 total investment
Year 9: $125/month = $1500/Year = $7500 total investment
Year 10: $125/month = $1500/Year = $9000 total investment
Now, (and here is the "for free" part) this $9,000 is still yours. Since you loaned it out, you got it back when it was repaid.
At the end of 10 years, you have essentially used Kiva and microloans as a savings acount. Granted, it gains no interest and there is a small chance that you could lose some money (Maybe 3%). However, you have to consider the work that the $9,000 has been doing over those 10 years is worth more to the people in poverty that used it than to the bank you would have kept it in or the coffees you would have bought with it.
Furthermore, it appears that micorloans are a safer investment than real estate and stock market in these insecure economic times.
Of course, you can keep loaning that $9000 and you can keep adding to it. In a lifetime, keeping the pattern of increases with the plan above, you could have over $100,000 dollars in perpetual motion, working hard for hard working families in need.
Using Kiva as a socially responsible savings account is an idea whose time has come.