Saturday, August 2, 2008


Microfinance is characterized by the provision of small loans (of a few hundred to a thousand dollars) to individuals or small groups, often women, in poorer countries to help them to establish or expand a small business. This gained a lot of visibility when Bangladeshi banker Mohammed Yunus (founder) and the Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.”

There has been some criticism and controversy re various microlending practices (e.g. read the Wikipedia articles linked below for some background), but there is no doubt that this can be done in ways that make a huge difference in the lives of people around the world. And for those of us lucky enough to be doing well and living in the United States, it is so incredibly easy to contribute online, e.g. via Kiva, Microplace, The Grameen Foundation, etc. that there is no excuse to not do so…

Microfinance - Wikipedia
Microcredit - Wikipedia
The Microfinance gateway
Microcredit: effects on rural poverty and the environment

The Grameen Foundation
Microplace (an Ebay company)

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