The Grameen Foundation defines microfinance: Sometimes called “banking for the poor,” microfinance is an amazingly simple approach that has been proven to empower very poor people around the world to pull themselves out of poverty. Relying on their traditional skills and entrepreneurial instincts, very poor people, mostly women, use small loans (usually less than US$200), other financial services, and support from local organizations called microfinance institutions (MFIs) to start, establish, sustain, or expand very small, self-supporting businesses. A key to microfinance is the recycling of loan dollars. As each loan is repaid—usually within six months to a year—the money is recycled as another loan, thus multiplying the value of each dollar in defeating global poverty, and changing lives and communities.
The following websites serve as great introductions to the world of microfinance: