(AP) Accion was among the first microlenders to serve the U.S. market. It loaned $1,000 to Guerrero, Mexico, native Uvalda Alvarado in 1991 so she could exchange her taco truck for a small kitchen in a Brooklyn storefront. She eventually turned the storefront cafe into the still popular restaurant Antojitos Mexicanos.
"It wasn't just the economic help," Alvarado says. "It was the moral support. That someone believes in you, that belief encourages you to keep pushing forward."
Success like Alvarado's inspired college students. A Yale University group began offering microloans in 2001. More than a dozen other college groups have followed suit, raising money and seeking out investors for the loans.
There are many organizations that provide or support microloans in the U.S. Here's a sampling:
Accion USA: http://www.accionusa.org
College Microfinance Clubs Coalition MFI Connect: http://www.mficonnect.com/
Opportunity FundL http://www.opportunityfund.org
Our MicroLending: http://www.ourmicrolending.com
The Intersect Fund: http://intersectfund.org/blog