Funds unlocked for micro-lending in Africa

Jan 15, 2010

Many of the poorest people in Africa, Latin America and Asia could reap the benefits of new funds planned for microfinance groups.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it will donate $38 million (£23.3 million) to 18 micro-lenders for the purposes of helping 11 million people living in poverty to create savings accounts.

Bob Christen, Director of Financial Services for the Poor at the organisation, suggested that the funds will be a positive step forward for many disadvantaged people.
"We see it as a major step to drive change and help broaden the microfinance business model to include savings."

Donations such as this are likely to help countries such as Uganda mobilise its poorest citizens and allow many to fund their own business enterprises.

Meanwhile, Alex Counts, President of the Grameen Foundation – which is set to benefit from the funds - said: "Despite conventional wisdom, poor people actually do save, even if it's just pennies each day."

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation claims that less than ten per cent of the world's poor have the opportunity to use affordable and safe financial services.