|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on Launch of Microfinance Initiative, ‘Women Investing in Women’
Millions of poor women around the world who could never get a loan or other forms of financing to build more secure, prosperous lives would soon have access to credit, thanks to a microfinance initiative launched today at Headquarters to coincide with International Women’s Day.
The Women Investing in Women, or WIN-WIN, Initiative — a new partnership of Calvert Foundation, a United States-based non-profit foundation, and Citi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the global corporation Citi — plans to make some $20 million worth of “high-impact” investments in organizations and projects worldwide aimed at economically empowering low-income women and their families, the chief executives of both organizations said during a news conference.
The initiative was announced in the framework of a high-level forum on “the role of business in empowering women” organized at Headquarters today by the United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOPS) and the United States Chamber of Commerce’s Business Civic Leadership Centre.
Citi Foundation will provide a $1 million grant to Calvert Foundation to bolster the latter’s capacity to underwrite microfinance and community-development financial institutions that invest in women-owned or women-run businesses or those focused on improving women’s lives in such places as Bolivia, Colombia, Kenya, Nicaragua, Peru, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, and Tunisia, said Lisa Hall, Calvert Foundation Chief Executive Officer.
Through the initiative, women investors would help other women build affordable housing, improve financial stability and invest in services for themselves and their families, such as health care and education, while earning investment returns of up to 2 per cent, Ms. Hall said.
“Investing in women is smart investing,” she said. “When you invest in a woman, you invest in her family, her community and the world.”
Women accounted for 70 per cent of the world’s poorest 1 billion people and 70 per cent of those without access to credit, but with the proper financial tools, women of all economic stripes achieved remarkable results, she said. For example, when women owned as much land as men, their crops yielded 10 per cent more than men’s. By simply increasing girls’ school enrolment by 10 per cent, a country expanded its gross domestic product (GDP) by 3 per cent.
Pam Flaherty, Citi Foundation Chief Executive Officer, added that “you can’t have access to the best talent if you exclude half the world.”
Answering questions, Ms. Hall said the WIN-WIN initiative would channel most funds through local partners, but it would also directly capitalize some enterprises such as those building affordable housing.
Asked about the criteria Calvert Foundation used to select investment partners, Ms. Hall said it used vigorous due diligence and risk assessment methodology to monitor investments. The Foundation boasted a 100 per cent loan repayment rate.
Concerning plans to invest in Pakistan and neighbouring countries, Ms. Hall said Calvert Foundation issued loans in Pakistan in partnership with CHF International, a global development and humanitarian aid organization, and it provided microcredit in Bangladesh in partnership with the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), an organization focused on poverty alleviation.
She said the Foundation was also active in the Middle East through CHF International and that it aimed to expand its reach throughout that region.
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