EBay's newly launched MicroPlace lets users make loans through PayPal or a bank account to needy entrepreneurs worldwide. The idea? Even small sums can help poor people build businesses to raise themselves out of poverty. The site's founder remembers one Bangladeshi woman who bought a handloom, thus earning enough to repay the loan and school her children, reports Fortune.
MicroPlace differs from other nonprofit microfinance sites, notably Kiva.org, in that lenders earn interest--1 to 4%. This makes some uneasy. “Maybe it’s better if the extra $15 you make on a return stays with the institution,” suggests one microfinance author. But MicroPlace says the interest is meant to attract more lenders--and help more poor.