In the past 10 years, microfinance has taken the international development community by storm. Microcredit pioneer Muhammed Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work at Grameen Bank, which has enabled over 7 million of Bangledesh's poorest people to acquire the capital needed to start their own small businesses.
The work of organizations like Grameen Bank has proven that social responsibility is a good investment. Until recently, however, only financial institutions and wealthy investors could invest in microlenders.
MicroPlace, an eBay-owned company, hopes to change that. Through MicroPlace, ordinary individuals can purchase interest-earning securities which provide capital to lending organizations. These organizations, in turn, provide loans to the working poor, largely women, in developing countries around the world.
Once you are registered at the site, investing is simple. Choose the country in which you want to invest from the world map, select a lending organization and read its prospectus, then choose how much to invest. Investments can be made through PayPal or through a regular checking account.
Organizations like this show the true power of the 'Net for social change.