Microlending site Kiva.org makes it ridiculously easy for (comparatively) rich folk to loan money to (comparatively) poor folk halfway around the world who want to buy a cow or open a business. The loans are paid back on a set schedule—at an astonishingly high rate of almost 99 percent—at which point lenders can take their money and go out to dinner or plow it back into another business.
Here's a spiffy animation that tracks Kiva loans as they fly back and forth across the globe—starting with just seven tiny fireflies drifting from the Bay Area to East Africa and back again in 2005, then an explosion of light in late 2006 when the site gets national publicity from Frontline. Watch it on full screen if you can.
Call me a sap, but there's something about that intense burst of light radiating from the U.S. that makes me choke up a little every time. Hey, for some people it's Hallmark original movies, for others it's infographics depicting mutually beneficial voluntary financial exchange.
In case you're wondering how much money that horde of fireflies represents, the total comes in around $240 million in loans so far.
Reason has been covering Kiva for a good while.
Via Flowing Data.