Please do take a look at www.kiva.org, it’s a really clever idea that allows people to loan small amounts of money to budding entrepreneurs, no more than £16 ($25) in the third world.
These small amounts, aggregated, provide (typically) no more than a few thousand dollars to micro-business people to start small ventures designed to raise the standard of their lives.
The small value of the contribution multiplied by the volume of lenders reduces the risk and allows struggling people to access funds that would not normally be available to them.
Try it. It’s fantastic. Better still, start a Kiva club at work and each person can invest in different projects and race to generate the best and fastest return. Highly recommended.