MicroPlace was founded when Turner realized that the microfinance industry needs $250 billion to get capital to all the world's working poor who need it. However, only $25B of capital has been raised in the international markets to date. While American people give about $300B in charity every year, this goes to all charities and not just microfinance. Turner felt that there were not enough charitable dollars to address the global poverty issue and so founded MicroPlace to direct socially responsible investment capital to microfinance investments. Americans invested about $2.4B in socially responsible investments in 2006.
MicroPlace provides everyday investors with the ability to make investments in the microfinance industry. Until MicroPlace was founded, ordinary investors could not really invest in microfinance unless they had significant capital and could work with a microfinance security issuer directly or were willing to invest for no financial return.
Microfinance has proven to be a highly effective poverty reduction tool in developing countries and in more industrialized countries. Microfinance can be more effective than charity as it provides a "hand-up" instead of a "hand-out" and lets people work their way out of poverty with dignity. Although repayment rates average higher than 97%, fewer than 10 million of the 100M people receiving microfinance are able to obtain loans from traditional banks. Microfinance is targeting these unbanked people and wants to bring them mainstream financial services.