Seattle philanthropists have embraced the idea of microcredit, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which recently decided to steer an undetermined amount of its own enormous resources into a new program for financial services for the developing world's poor.
....Money has been pouring into microfinance programs lately from individuals, foundations and corporate philanthropies such as Google.org.
Locally, organizations involved in microfinance now include the Gates Foundation, Unitus, Global Partnerships, Microfinance Corp., the Grameen Technology Center and World Vision.
....Some younger philanthropists, most notably eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, say microfinance can grow much faster if it's opened up to venture capital and commercialized as a profit-making business.
....In Seattle, some programs combine the region's deep-rooted technology expertise with the social-service aspect of microcredit. The Grameen Technology Center, started with support from wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw, created an open-source software platform for managing microfinance projects, and the Gates Foundation gave Unitus a $1.5 million grant over three years to look for ways to make microfinance work more efficiently.