Programs that award small loans to struggling entrepreneurs continue to generate headlines as providing a new model for creating economic growth.
Microfinance, pioneered in the early 1970s by nonprofit groups like Grameen Bank, in Bangladesh, and Acción International, in Latin America, is one of the hottest ideas in philanthropy.
Foundations, individuals, and even private investors are funneling millions of dollars into providing loans to the very poor so that they can start businesses. They believe the efforts can eventually alleviate poverty in a self-sustaining way, because more and more microfinance organizations are breaking even or earning a profit.
On Thursday, May 20, microfinance experts will gather in San Francisco for Microfinance USA 2010—a conference that will discuss ideas to improve and build on the microfinance movement.
As part of the event, Opportunity Fund, a microlender, will release research that outlines the economic impact of small loans.
What will the research show? Is microfinance a solution that can be expanded to help curb poverty in the United States and abroad?
Eric Weaver, Opportunity Fund's chief executive, will offer an inside look at the research and will be available to answer questions about microfinance during a special discussion on Monday, May 17, at 1 p.m. U.S. Eastern time.
Eric Weaver, chief executive and founder of Opportunity Fund, the largest provider of microloans to low-income entrepreneurs in California.