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ABSTRACT. In 1976, the Grameen Bank was launched in Bangladesh to provide very small loans to impoverished women in poor rural areas of the country. Since then this financing model has been lauded and replicated in many countries. This article examines the nature and status of micro-loan programs throughout the world, including the recent establishment and development of such programs in the United States, and the current world-wide controversy regarding the entry of for-profit lending institutions into the field and the subsequent rise in micro-loan interest rates and other costs to the loan recipients. Further investigation provides policy implications and guidance to governments, to small business owners, and to those who assist these owners with regard to their possible utilization of micro-financing. Due to the limited prior scholarly research with this focus, an agenda for needed future research is suggested. pp. 51–63

Matthew C. Sonfield
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Hofstra University

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