This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
In 1983 in Bangladesh, the Grameen Bank was established. In 1993, the Bank had more than 1,000 branches and 1.6 million borrowers in 34,0000 villages in the country. The banks operating principle is not the standard "the more you have, the more you can borrow" but the "less you have, the higher your priority". The banks lend only to the poorest of the rural poor and half of them must be women. To provide community support and build commitment, prospective clients must have five friends to borrow with. The Bank's average loans are US$100, 94% of them to women; the interest rate high (20 percent), repayment time short (within one year), and there is a mandatory savings requirement. The Bank's founder reported in 1995 that one third of Grameen's 2 million borrowers have already crossed the poverty line and the remaining two-thirds are nearly there but often incapacitated because of chronic ill health. The Bank has a recovery rate of 97 percent, and its bad-debt is less than one-half of one percent.
In 1995, the World Bank joined with international donors to create a US$100 million fund to expand small scale credit programmes around the world through grants and loans to institutions like the Grameen Bank.
The Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) in India providing loans, facilitates savings and offers financial counselling to low-income women. The results are an increase in real income (by borrowing at a lower rate of interest, repaying old debts, and by borrowing to buy equipment), an increased volume of business and interest earned on SEWA Bank's savings account.
Enterprise Development International is a non-profit private voluntary organization that enable the unemployed and underemployed poor in developing countries and the USA to become productive, self-supporting citizens. The Microenterprise Project provides small loans and business training to help the poor start income-generating enterprises.