You might be familiar with the concept of "microlending" - making a small loan (or grant) to help would-be business owners start their own businesses and stop the cycle of poverty. For example, when I was in Uganda several years ago I heard about a woman who got a small loan to buy a sewing machine, so she could start a sewing and tailoring business. The money helped her to launch the businesses, providing an income for her and her family, and it also helped her to establish credit so that she could someday approach an established bank for a bigger loan.
Groups like Kiva and Grameen Bank are famous for enabling every day people to make microloans to benefit people in developing countries. (and the founder of Grameen Bank is famous for winning a Nobel Peace Prize). GOOD magazine recently highlighted some groups that are enabling folks like you and me to make microlending-type gifts to people and projects here in the good old U.S.of A. Here are the groups that GOOD highlighted:
I love the idea of helping someone in New York, Appalachia, or any poor neighborhood in America start their own business and lift themselves out of poverty. I think this will land on my year-end giving list!