Last week, it was announced that professor Muhammad Yunus will be awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. If you're a longtime Fool reader, Dr. Yunus might be familiar to you, as he started the Grameen Bank and is a microcredit pioneer. A few years back, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. (Read about Grameen in this article I wrote awhile back -- I suspect the story will knock your socks off.)

In a nutshell, Yunus discovered many years ago that poor people often just needed a little money loaned to them at a reasonable rate -- even just $100 or less was enough to enable them to lift themselves out of poverty. They'd borrow a little money, perhaps buy a goat or a sewing machine, and then launch a little business. Then they'd repay the money and later borrow and repay more, as their business and life expanded.

Today, microcredit organizations exist all over the globe, loaning money to the world's poorest people (most often women).

Small is big
It's amazing what $100 can do for you, too. For instance, you might buy several investing books, and suddenly become a much savvier and more successful investor. If you're looking for reading material, here are some suggestions:

You could even invest that $100, and turn it into something much more valuable. Just see what you could've done with $100 20 years ago:

Company

CAPS Star Rating

 (out of 5)

20-Year Average Annual Return

Would Turn $100 Into

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL)

**

30%

$19,600

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY)

**

30%

$17,500

EMC (NYSE:EMC)

****

28%

$15,300

Schwab (NASDAQ:SCHW)

****

23%

$6,100

Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL)

****

21%

$5,200

Stryker (NYSE:SYK)

*****

19%

$3,500

Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO)

***

17%

$2,800

Sources: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo! Finance.

Those may be extreme examples, but they reflect the terrific performances you might get from one or more of your investments. Even if your $100 grew at just 6% annually for 20 years, it would more than triple in value.

So don't take any of your $100 bills for granted. And if you're looking for some promising places to park them, let us introduce you to some compelling possibilities.

Learn more:

Start investing today -- just $7 per trade with Scottrade. Or find the broker that’s right for you.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Best Buy and Charles Schwab are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Best Buy, Dell, and Stryker are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. The Fool owns shares of Stryker and Best Buy. Try any of our investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.