Swiss bank for mega-rich advocates lending to poor, by Thomas Atkins

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Credit Suisse, one of the world’s biggest banks for wealthy clients, on Tuesday said the business of microfinance — providing loans as small as $50 to the poor — will soon attract mainstream investors.
The Swiss-based bank, which operates an investment fund that finances microcredit projects, said the microfinance market was growing 20-40 percent annually, thanks in part to its record of contributing to economic development in poorer nations.
“Microfinance is a high-growth industry, fueled not only by the size of its target market but also by its sustainable returns,” the bank said in a statement.
The field of microfinance refers to specialised agencies in poor countries that provide loans, savings, insurance and other financial products to low-income clients.
Loans can be truly small, say, $100 for a cow, or $35 for a sewing machine. Over the past two decades, microfinance has become a pillar among development agencies and won the praise of the World Bank. The United Nations has named 2005 as the International Year of Microcredit.
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Source: Reuters