Microfinance, the practice of providing small loans to the poor, has been praised as an innovative way to alleviate global poverty. But as the movement matures, some analysts are starting to raise questions about what they see as excessively high lender profits and interest rates. With the Microfinance USA conference convening in San Francisco this week, we examine the record of the industry.

Eric Weaver, founder and CEO of Opportunity Fund, which offers microloans and other services to working families in the Bay Area
Sean Foote, technology venture capitalist, board member of the Silicon Valley Microfinance Network and trustee of Freedom From Hunger, a Davis-based nonprofit providing self-help through microfinance
Neil MacFarquhar, United Nations bureau chief for The New York Times and author of a recent article on microfinance, "Banks Making Big Profits From Tiny Loans"
William Ortiz-Cartagena, founder of San Francisco-based Gentle Parking and recipient of a $10,000 loan from Opportunity Fund to increase Gentle Parking's workforce during the recession

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