A. It is positive commandment of the Torah to extend loans to the poor among the Jewish People. This mitzvah is greater than the mitzvah of tzedaka (charity) because it is less embarrassing for the poor person. Another reason why it is considered greater is that in this manner it is possible to support another Jew and prevent his complete collapse and he will be spared the need to go begging.
It is also a mitzvah to extend a loan to a person of means when he is need of funds. Nevertheless, in this matter, lending to a poor person takes precedence over a wealthy person, even though people would rather lend to a wealthy person.