Want to lend money to a struggling entrepreneur in a developing nation without using any of your money? I did, and for a little while longer, you can too.

Here's how. Recently LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman put up $1 million to fund 40,000 individual $25 dollar loans through the microlending platform Kiva.

“The most successful ventures depend on that initial spark from angel investors,” Hoffman says. “Kiva's model gives us all the ability to connect and make change possible for entrepreneurs around the world who have opportunity but lack capital."

According to Premal Shah, Kiva president, in 2011 Kiva lenders funded nearly 125,000 loans totaling $90 million, with the average loan funded in just over 5 days.

“Our most popular loans tend to be to women farmers in Africa and Asia, where the benefits to enabling a woman to better provide for her family are obvious,” said Shah.

But not all borrowers gain funding quickly. Loans to women in Africa and Asia are popular, and so are loans for agricultural purposes, while the slowest funding loans tend to be to men in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

“Where our lenders struggle more to understand the impact tends to be with loans to men in countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemen," Shah says. "We are working with our microfinance partners to help them better tell the stories of these men, as they are hard-working and really trying to give their families new opportunities and a better future.”

All you have to do is decide which entrepreneur you would like to help and then take advantage of the free trial.

One way to find a borrower is to search through the more than 3,000 individual loans that are fundraising. Or, you can try a few other approaches:

See what is trending in popularity at the moment and be the lender that helps to fully fund an individual’s or group’s loan. You can filter by region, gender, or loan theme, like Agriculture, Arts, Clothing, Construction, Housing, Retail, Education, etc.

Behind each filter and category are hundreds of entrepreneurs looking for an initial investment that can help them gain an education, bring their food to harvest, or start and grow their business.

Join a lending team and get to know Kiva's community of active lenders. Lending Teams are self-organized groups where members connect with each other to rally around shared lending goals. You can start your own lending team or join an existing team. For example, a Green Bay Packers fan browsing by “sports” might decide to join the Cheeseheads For Change.

Or maybe you’d like to join the 18,000-strong Nerdfighters, whose goal is to “fight for awesome” and “decrease world suck.” (Can’t argue with that.)

Filter by social performance. Kiva partners with a network of organizations around the world responsible for screening borrowers, disbursing loans, and collecting repayments. Each organization has developed different social performance strengths, which Kiva highlights with badges designating things like: anti-poverty focus, vulnerable group focus, family and community empowerment, entrepreneurial support, among others.

I filtered by Anti-Poverty Focus and found the Benemerito Group, 13 people in Mexico with simple—and heartbreaking—goals: One wants to buy a calf to raise. Another hopes to buy three sheep to raise. Several want to buy chickens, and others want to buy aprons or blankets or sheets to sell.

Why did I choose to lend Reid’s money to them? To be honest, I'm not sure. I just know it felt good.

Then I remembered that men in the Middle East and Asia tend to have the slowest funded loans, so I made a loan to Safarali, a Tajikistan cattle breeder with a wife and six kids.

That felt good, too.

Just know that if you decide to take advantage of the free trial, in the process you’ll get more than a good feeling. You’ll also receive a healthy dose of perspective.


Note: Before you lend, check out Kiva's explanation of how the process works. Your loan doesn't go directly to the entrepreneur—it goes to the microfinance institutions that screen the borrowers and disburse the loans. I mention it because this has been a point of confusion with Kiva lenders in the past.

According to Kiva, they always distribute funds collected from lenders according to the loan requests actually funded by the Kiva lenders. If you lend money to a borrower in Lebanon to purchase seeds for his farms, those funds are going to fund that borrower's loan or to replace capital fronted by a partner for that borrower's loan.