Microcredit summit vies to drum up business for world’s poorest

WASHINGTON, Nov 10, 2006 (AFP) – What do Bill Gates, Queen Sofia of Spain, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and billionaire philanthropist George Soros all have in common? They all believe that small business loans known as microcredit can help lift tens of millions of the world’s poorest people, who mainly live across Asia, out of poverty and turn them into budding entrepreneurs.

Queen Sofia and Yunus will join several thousand delegates in Halifax, Canada, who are jetting in from around the world to attend the second Global Microcredit Summit from November 12-15.

Campaigners, including Yunus, who has been dubbed the “godfather” of microcredit, will announce their lofty goal of advancing tiny business loans to 175 million of the world’s most impoverished people by 2015 at the summit.

Summit-backers conceded last week that they had failed to meet a goal set in Washington in 1997 to advance microcredit to 100 million poverty-stricken people by the end of 2005, but said they were well on track to hit that target by the end of this year.

“The summit and its new goals for 2015 to be launched in Halifax will help slash global poverty and kickstart progress toward