If only poverty could be wiped out, rapidly, massively, once and for all and without redistribution and constraints, without political and social upheaval, simply by giving the poor the financial means to work themselves out of poverty! This wish appears unrealistic, but this is exactly what advocates of microfinance have claimed since the late 1980s: provide finance in small amounts to people without assets and without a track record so that they can work themselves out of poverty. An enormous task on its own right, but what microfinance proponents promised in addition seemed even less plausible: that there was a business case in microfinance, that it was possible to build self-financing, even profitable institutions. The message of microfinance was simple: there are opportunities for income generation even in the most destitute slum; there are also ways to give the poor the means to protect their livelihoods against the most severe shocks. Funding on the right terms would empower the poor and kick off a beneficial cycle stabilising or even lifting incomes and welfare – and do it as a business.