Executive Briefing: The microfinance industry began through individuals and non-profit organizations that wanted to help the poor obtain loans for microenterprises. Today microfinance is a growing industry returning profits to investors and offering basic financial services to the poor. Since its inception, microfinance has expanded and matured in its global reach, legal structures, and product diversity. The industry's sustainability illustrates that programs designed to promote social equity can evolve into viable business models. Opens in PDF.