People all over the world have similar aspirations -- to provide for their families, to feed, clothe and shelter them, and to provide their children with opportunities to succeed. In developing countries where poverty is greatest, microenterprises are estimated to represent more than 80% of all wealth-building enterprises and more than 20% of GNP. We at Citi know that one of the most effective means of ensuring that the poor take part in their economy is to provide them with access to the financial products and services they need to help them build wealth and achieve their goals.
The Citi Foundation has been supporting the expansion and evolution of the microfinance industry for decades; our funding has steadily increased along with that expansion. Over the past seven years, we have contributed nearly $40 million in funding to microfinance institutions MFIs and microfinance networks which provide long-term, sustainable impact to low-income families and communities in more than 50 countries. Through our support of MFIs and microfinance organizations, we have established deep, multifaceted relationships that provide significant opportunities for us to contribute more than just dollars. We also support the microfinance industry through the volunteerism of our employees, who share their talents and experience with the communities they serve around the world. Our approach is to:
- Expand outreach to millions more low-income borrowers by increasing the capacity of MFIs and mobilizing capital
- Build and preserve borrowers’ assets via savings, housing finance, remittances, insurance, and financial education
- Increase industry commitment to transparency, standardized performance measures, and best practices
- Build global awareness of microfinance as an effective poverty alleviation tool and encourage increased access to capital markets
The Citi Foundation supports numerous global, regional, and local microfinance organizations that inform the industry, build capacity, and strengthen the sector overall in order to achieve greater client outreach and scale as they continue to grow exponentially. Our relationships with these nonprofits are focused on providing technical assistance, improving monitoring and benchmarking of the industry, encouraging policies that support the microfinance industry and strengthening the industry’s connection to financial institutions and capital markets. Globally, our partners include (but are not limited to) ACCION International, Women’s World Banking, FINCA, the Grameen Foundation, Microfinance Opportunities, the SEEP Network, the Microfinance Information Exchange, the Foundation for Development Cooperation, Integra Ventures, Sanabel, the Russian Microfinance Center, the Asian Institute of Management, the Indian School of Microfinance for Women, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the Abrinq Foundation.
In the United States, the Citi Foundation’s support of microfinance has been principally targeted at ACCION USA and its affiliates ACCION NY, ACCION TX, ACCION Chicago, ACCION New Mexico, and ACCION San Diego. We also provide funding to a number of US organizations that support broader microenterprise development, microcredit, and training, including the Aspen Institute, the Association for Economic Opportunity (AEO), and the California Association for Microenterprise Opportunity.
The following organizations and programs
are representative of the Citi Foundation’s broad support of the microfinance industry:
ACCION International: Twenty-five years ago, the Citi Foundation made its first microfinance grant ever -- to an organization called ACCION. ACCION had previously received community development grants from the Citi Foundation, dating back as far as 1965, and when ACCION launched its microfinance activities in 1973, the Foundation was pleased to support them. To date, the Foundation has made more than 100 grants to ACCION and its affiliates totaling approximately $9 million. ACCION partners with more than 30 microfinance organizations throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and the U.S. and served more than 1.88 million active borrowers in 2005. The Foundation’s global support of ACCION’s activities includes the development of new microfinance products, technologies, efficiencies, market research, customer service, and business development services.
Microfinance Opportunities: The Global Financial Education Project supports the development and dissemination of a Citi-branded financial education curriculum targeted to clients of microfinance institutions. More than 2 million low-income individuals in developing countries will be reached through a train-the-trainer model. Current topics include savings, budgeting, debt management, bank services, and financial negotiation. New topics include insurance, remittances, consumer protection, electronic banking, and the youth market.
2006 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards: The objective of this signature awards program of the Citi Foundation is to illustrate and promote the effective role that microfinance plays in poverty alleviation around the world. In particular, the program seeks to generate recognition for the extraordinary contributions that hundreds of individual microentrepreneurs have made to the economic sustainability of their families as well as their communities in 23 countries.
Indian School of Microfinance for Women: As the primary funder of this premier microfinance training institution in India, the Foundation is supporting the development of the school’s core curriculum and programs. The school expects to reach as many as 2,800 people over five years--training middle and senior managers of MFIs, field staff, policy makers, wholesale lenders, multilateral institutions, and new MFI staff.
Microfinance Information Exchange (The MIX): The Citi Foundation is one of the founding supporters of The MIX since its launch in 2002. The objective of The MIX is to provide globally accepted benchmarking, monitoring, and ratings tools for MFIs, to facilitate exchange and investments flows, promote transparency, and improve reporting standards in the microfinance industry.
Pro Mujer: This microfinance and women’s development network that combines microfinance with business training and healthcare services, received a $100,000 grant from the Foundation in 2006. This innovative organization is working to implement an institutional evaluation and accreditation system in order more effectively to manage its growth and outreach to Latin America’s poorest women in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru. Pro Mujer and its members have a unique approach to microfinance delivery. Few MFIs focus on clients as poor as the women served by Pro Mujer affiliates, and even fewer combine microfinance with both business training and healthcare services. Loans average $164 each.
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