The Grameen Bank (based in Bangladesh) is known as the pioneer in establishing the working model for the now burgeoning microcredit industry. See Grameen II for a summary of how their model works and for statistics on how Grameen is making an amazing impact on poverty elimination in Bangladesh and, through replication, to other countries.
One of the new programs Grameen started in 2003 is the Struggling Members Program which targets providing credit to beggars who don’t qualify as Grameen regular [very poor] loan candidates. Essentially this is a social justice program which they are implementing as a result of their belief that credit is a human right.
Unlike their regular Grameen loans, they provide small (around $9) loans to beggars for which they pay no interest and for which the receiver negotiates a repayment schedule which works for them. They ask their current loan customer groups (very poor people, but ones who run a micro-enterprise of some sort) to support and coach the beggars towards creating some sort of income activity outside of begging. The beggars cannot use any money received from begging to pay off their loan. To top that off, they provide beggars with an identity badge with Grameen Bank’s logo on it to let people of the bank’s support behind them. Wow!!!
The Grameen Bank continues to lead the way in delivering credit to poor.