Financial Aid: A Lending Tree

Getting ahead in Africa is tough. Banks lend money only to the middle class and the wealthy. Poor Africans--meaning most Africans--stay poor. It's even harder if you're sick. Without savings to fall back on, many HIV-positive parents pull their kids out of school. They can't afford the fees and end up selling their few possessions to feed the family. When they die, their kids are left with nothing.

Though not directly targeted at people with AIDS, microcredit schemes go some way toward fixing that problem. The schemes work like minibanks, lending small amounts--often as little as $100--to traders or farmers. Because...

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