Grameen Bank gets Credit Agricole helpMarch 2008
The Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank is to be partnered by Crédit Agricole in supporting microlenders around the world.
Crédit Agricole, France’s largest retail banking group, is providing €50million ($74m, £37.5m) to establish a foundation that will start its work this year. The Grameen-Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation will give the financial guarantees and expertise needed to start microfinance institutions.
It is expected to offer equity investments, training and technological skills, but some of the funding may support community projects to enhance social returns rather than profits.
Another result of the collaboration is that Grameen will be able to assist other microlenders elsewhere in the world. Already the bank has expanded into other countries, including even the United States, where it is offering microfinance to poor immigrants in New York.
Grameen’s Nobel-winning founder, Muhammad Yunus, himself a microfinance pioneer, said: ‘Microcredits are an effective weapon against poverty because they make everyone, even the poorest of the poor, the master of his own destiny by giving him the means to develop his own project.’
There are estimated to be 10,000 microlenders worldwide, but many struggle to start and survive because too little wholesale financing and expertise in managing such institutions is available.
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