Intermission: Watch Kiva Loans Travel the World

An animated map that shows the path of every Kiva loan between 2005 and today.

We've written a lot about Kiva, the pioneering nonprofit that makes it easy for individuals to give small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. And despite numerous debates over the overall effectiveness of microlending, there's no doubt that it makes a difference in many individual lives. Thanks to this captivating animated map produced by Kiva's staff (via FlowingData), we can actually see what that difference-making looks like.

The map represents every one of the 620,000-plus Kiva loans with a colored dot that flies from the lender's location to the borrower's, then back to the lender as the loan is repaid. The activity starts small, with seven loans moving from the United States to East Africa in April 2005. At the end of 2006, when Kiva received its first major media attention, the map explodes into full color as the number of loans balloons into the tens of thousands. The result is beautiful, both for aesthetic value and for what all those colors represent: $240 million in loans, repaid 99 percent of the time.