During the summit, the importance of access to credit by low income classes, women, and other vulnerable groups, was emphasized. In 1997, the movement gained another boost with the holding of the World Micro-Credit Summit in February 1997 in Washington, DC. During the summit, a countdown was announced, to the year 2005, for the eradication of poverty among 100 million of the world’s poorest families, targeting women in particular with micro-credit aimed at self improvement (Dhar, 2005).
In the last 20 years, microfinance has proven to be a vital development tool capable of addressing the needs of vast number of poor people, in particular poor women, with a means of sustainable financial support for their livelihoods. In the 2005 State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, microfinancial institutions were reported to have reached more than 92 million clients, in the process benefiting as many as 333 million family members. Poor people are no longer seen as charity recipients but customers to be attended to and served; of these, women comprise 83% - roughly 66 million – of reported microfinance clients. And not only are they better clients than men, being better repayers, but they also act as key drivers of development, channelling their extra income directly to the benefit of the family (McCarter, 2006).
Even prior to its being called “micro-finance”, forms of small-scale financing have already been afforded to very poor families in developing countries such as India. However, with the advent of the term “micro-finance”, there appears to be a paradigm shift in the perception of people to the new facility. The old concept encompassed providing credit, at subsidized rates of credit, to poor families residing in rural and semi-urban areas, through public and government financial institutions (Dhar, 2005).
Under the new concept, the target is rural and urban poor