A Bangladeshi solution to African poverty, funded by Britain

April 22nd, 2008 - 6:01 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, April 22 (IANS) Britain and Bangladesh are working to roll out a Bangladeshi solution to African poverty. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who met with Bangladeshi Nobel Prize winner and Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus in London Monday, said he will work with Grameen “to give access to and unlock the power of financial services for Africa’s poor.”

Grameen, which gives small loans to poor families and businesses, is the world’s first multinational bank serving the poor.

By encouraging entrepreneurship among the poor, it has shown how microfinance can bring about economic and social development, with millions of people lifted out of poverty in villages across Bangladesh and beyond.

Brown and Yunus discussed how public and private sectors can work together to help unlock the power of microfinance to improve the lives of millions in Africa, where nearly 300 million people still live on less that $1 a day.

“There is an urgent need to improve business and management skills in the microfinance industry in Africa to make sure this money is used to help people from the world’s poorest communities,” Brown said.

As a first step, he said the British government will provide 500,000 pounds towards bridging the skills gap in the microfinance industry in Africa, an amount that would be “more than matched by the private sector”.

“We will bring together civil society organisations, and the private sector to contribute the funding, knowledge and skills required to bring microfinance to those who need it most,” Brown added.

Development experts say the impact of microfinance is being felt all over the world.

Foreign investment into microfinance across the globe tripled to $4 billion between 2004 and 2006, and Grameen alone reaches over 2.2 million families in over 20 countries.

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