The Kiva Effect is a great article on micro-finance and faith based micro-credit unions. Thanks to CT for publishing it and Becky for the HT. Of course there are a lot of these initiatives that escape the media's eye. Check out my post on emerging philanthropy and the Indian Taxi Fund.
Related: I read a book from the 1960's on Christian cooperatives and the work of Roman Catholic missionary Father Topshee. He created micro-credit unions for Pacific Islanders to help them become sustainable. He figured out that it only takes 100 people to launch a successful cooperative.