Kiva is a pretty awesome organization. I took a Business Finance class this past semester at BYU and my favorite section was about micro-finance. I think I enjoyed it so much because it was something that I understood and could grasp. Global markets are too big and complex, but small $25 loans is something that I can relate to.
Here's a video that explains the idea behind Kiva:
How Kiva Works from Kiva Microfunds on Vimeo.
Pretty neat, huh? And it's not a hand out! You are actually not losing any money at all. It's a win-win situation.