Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gates Foundation to give 500 million for micro-savings

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is hosting a Global Savings Forum in Seattle, and took the occasion to make a big announcement. The Foundation will give a half a billion dollars in grants to expand savings to those in poverty. 500 million dollars will go to a host of different programs that help under-developed world accumulate savings.

From the Business of Giving blog at the Seattle Times, writer Kristi Heim tells us more about the new money. Heim's article also includes an itemized breakdown detailing which programs the money will go to.

At the Global Savings Forum hosted by the Gates Foundation today and tomorrow in Seattle, Melinda Gates said including the poor in financial services is a goal that has been elevated on the world's agenda. Financial inclusion was cited as one of the key development issues by the G20 countries in meetings last week.

"The stage is set for incredible breakthroughs," she told nearly 200 people gathered for the two-day event.

After the rapid growth of small loans for the poor as a development strategy, savings is now being recognized as an effective way for people "use their own energy, their own talents to lift themselves out of poverty," Gates said.

Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, the UN special advocate for inclusive finance, said over the last several years, the focus on savings has increased, along with financial literacy, consumer protection and strong infrastructure, for the two-fifths of the world living on less than $2 a day.

"People need an array of financial services," she said. "It is not only households that need financial services but enterprises, the ones that are the biggest job creators."

One project seen as a model is Kenya's M-PESA, a mobile banking program that is now used by more than 70 percent of the adult population. The program, which lets people send and receive money over mobile phones, is reaching 50 percent of the country's poor, Gates said.

1 comment:

Povertysucks said...

Too bad a little bit of money does not combat many of the issues of poverty. This is a drop in the bucket, here is some guilt $$, stuff.

They should stick to fighting malaria in Uganda.