I think that this (Kiva) is one of the greatest examples of totally new things that humanity can accomplish with modern technology. Without the Internet this would never have been possible. Almost anyone can now become a micro-lender from the comfort of their own home. That is truly great, and I want to support both Kiva and the people who get the loans.
I have to confess that I am a bit of a science and technology optimist. I believe that modern science and technology, which develop at an accelerating rate all the time, will eventually solve most of the Earth's important problems.
Kiva is a part of solving poverty through technological means. I believe that extreme poverty can be eradicated from the world during my lifetime: this goal just requires better political decisions in addition to new ideas and inventions.
Other pressing global problems might be solved with the help of science and technology eventually, too: energy and global warming problems (fusion energy or more efficient renewable energy), human rights violations (free information sharing via the Internet and organizations like Amnesty International), HIV (cheap drugs and condoms, education) and so on.
There are some problems which science and technology have made worse, too, most notably war. Science and technology have produced nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, landmines, artillery - basically all "unfair" ways of killing another human. Not that direct physical violence like shooting or stabbing would be acceptable, of course not. I think that war is always total madness, a humanitarian catastrophe and almost always also a very big political mistake even when examined from a purely economic and "realpolitik" perspective. But still, even though all killing is bad, some methods of killing are even worse than others.
When I say "science" I don't mean it in the "hard science" sense (mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science etc.). I also include social sciences and philosophy, which have produced maybe even greater inventions than the natural sciences. Examples: democracy, freedom, human rights, open source software, free education (at least in Finland), minority rights and so on. Of course, social sciences and philosophy have also produced absolute failures like fascism, stalinism, theocracy and other sad examples.
Still, when I compare the benefits that science and technology have brought to the mankind with the problems, I think that the positive side wins by a wide margin.
Also, the stories of the entrepreneurs in Kiva are really interesting. The few community aspects which are there are good (teams etc.) but I think they could be made a lot better.
With some new community features (implemented well) Kiva could become the Facebook of people who have some surplus money and want to use it to make the world a better place. That could even make Kiva commercially very profitable, which would be a good thing because then Kiva would be able to hire new employees to spread the word and to enhance the website. Because Kiva is a non-profit company, all the money they earn is put into employing more people or paying higher wages for the people who work there. Which they truly deserve.
You could also cover the development and operating costs by taking very small cuts of the transfers (under 1%) or by selling advertising (which is not even annoying for users if done well, like Google and Facebook). I think that anyone who would be offended either a) be an idiot, or b) hold moral principles which are very alien to mine.
Kiva should also expand its operations to other countries, including also wealthy countries like Western European countries, Canada, Australia etc. Of course, this requires actions not only from Kiva, but from local banks and entrepreneurs too. Maybe Kiva could become a kind of "fair loan" system for the whole World.
This would enable users to also donate money to good causes in wealthier countries. Sure, there is more need for the money in the developing countries, but I think that there are lots of people who might not want to donate money to developing countries but might want to help local (to them) causes. There can be many reasons for this: a burning desire to help some local group, not knowing enough about the circumstances in developing countries, simply racism etc., but the reason does not matter: what matters is that those people could also give money to good things if they were sure where it goes. Now that money goes to their own consumption: through that Kiva-like website it could go to helping others.
There are some very disadvantaged groups in wealthy countries, too, and many people, including me, would like to help them a little. That, of course, would not remove the need to help people in developing countries too. The people who want and are able to help others usually care about both: the suffering people in the third world and the suffering people in their own country.
I design and implement computer programs and web sites. I also do a little bit of other things in the software industry, like gather requirements, hold training courses and do some sales support.
I am also a part-time musician, so I shamelessly abuse my Kiva account by linking my lender page to the web page of Cold Cold Ground. I sincerely hope that this advertising does not offend anyone.
Cold Cold Ground is not a very commercial band, and they have never earned a single euro for their music. Of course they have sold some records etc., but the costs of their music "hobby" have this far been a lot higher than their earnings from it (buying instruments and equipment, paying the rent of practice space, hiring recording engineers and producers etc.). So I don't think that this is an example of misusing one's Kiva account for commercial interests.
I also suppose that almost no one except myself and some of my closest friends will read this lender page anyway, so nobody will probably even notice.