I have been contributing to kiva.org lately (compatibly with a grad student’s budget…):
I know many have had strong opinions about kiva, so I looked into it a bit. I am oncluding a couple of links from both sides of debates. You can find a lot more online.
I think the main concerns folks may have about Kiva is the level of interest paid by the recipients to the local “partners” who vet the loans, administer the cash in and out, and monitor progress and compliance with the loan agreement. It is true that lenders abroad get interests that are sometimes very high, but they do tend to have high costs as well. Also, on the kiva website you can actually get a lot of information about lenders. Certainly there is always room for improvement but there are too many skeptics that do not want to give and find excuses.
Here are some references for you.
Article in economist. Reasonably balanced. Evidence of effectiveness is somewhat mixed.
for a vigorous attack on Kiva see
For some reasonably independent analysis of interest rates see
Of course this is very limited information, and your comments and experiences are very very welcome.