In the past, investing in African enterprises was too complicated a task for anyone except banks or large companies. But now, thanks to websites such as MYC4, just about anyone can use their capital to fund small businesses and individual entrepreneurs in developing nations -- all from the comfort of their own home.
J.S Parthibhan is a bank manager with a difference: he's interested in people, not numbers. Through micro loans, he's helping villagers in rural areas develop a sense of entrepreneurship and self-respect.
In the middle of a global recession, Kenya's Equity Bank is booming. Microloans as small as $10 are helping the country's budding business people. Can Wall Street learn a lesson from these rural entrepreneurs?
In the 1960s, a small group of Malian women cloth dyers reinvigorated the craft of hand-dyed cloth using a fabric called bazin. Now, thanks to microcredit programs introduced in the mid-1980s, bazin production has flourished into a lucrative enterprise dominated by women. Their artistic creativity has become a force for alleviating poverty and affirming identity in West Africa.
Bangladesh is one of the poorest nations on the planet: half of its population lives on less than a dollar a day. But in the tiny semi-rural village of Dholla, microfinance loans from the Grameen Bank are empowering locals to create thriving small businesses.
Improving the economic situation of women is key to peace-building efforts in Liberia following a civil war that tore the country apart and left 75 percent of its people in extreme poverty. UNDP, with funds from Denmark, has set up revolving microloans that provide funds to women entrepreneurs, many of whom are heads of households.
In India, small loans administered by local self-help groups are helping women pull themselves and their families out of poverty.
Small loans are enabling Colombians to own their own businesses.
On forgotten mountains in the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia, people live in small shacks that they often build in days. Most of them unwittingly build on small plots of stolen land. Non-profit organization Un Techo Para Mi Pais (A Roof for My Country) offers microcredits to those with promising business ideas.