Grameen Foundation USA Announces Record Gifts For Microfinance Programs to Help World's Poorest People Become Self-Sustaining Entrepreneurs

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Grameen Foundation USA (GFUSA) today announced two record-breaking gifts totaling $9 million to support its mission of providing microloans and financial services to help poor people Â? mostly women Â? start self-sustaining businesses to escape poverty. Wall Street veteran Janet McKinley & her husband George Miller and Omidyar Network (established by eBay founder, Pierre Omidyar)lead contibutions. $1 million also comes from the Northern California-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Grameen Foundation USA (GFUSA) today announced two record-breaking gifts totaling $9 million to support its mission of providing microloans and financial services to help poor people—mostly women—start self-sustaining businesses to escape poverty.

Janet McKinley, the recently retired chair of The Income Fund of America, and her husband George Miller, the retired head of The American Balanced Fund, are contributing $5 million to the non-profit foundation. They are joined by Omidyar Network, established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam, with a contribution of $4 million. The gifts are the largest private philanthropic contributions ever made to support microfinance programs, which are the focus of the Grameen Foundation USA's vital mission in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.

In addition to the McKinley/Miller and Omidyar Network gifts, GFUSA today announced another gift totaling $1 million from the Northern California-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

GFUSA has impacted nearly 4.4 million of the world's poorest people in 20 countries. Loans typically range from $40 to $200, with an extremely high repayment rate: 99 percent. These record gifts to GFUSA are especially timely, because the United Nations has declared 2005 to be “The International Year of Microcredit.”

“It is time to dramatically scale up the delivery of financial services to poor women and their families,” said Ms. McKinley, who resides in San Francisco. “They have proven to be good customers, who through access to credit, insurance, and savings accounts can improve their lives with dignity.”

“Grameen Foundation USA understands the tremendous leverage donor investments can have,” continued Ms. McKinley. “They are proving the wisdom of investing in microfinance and creating an attractive environment to generate the billions of dollars that will be needed from global financial markets to meet the growing demand from the world's emerging microentrepreneurs.

Pierre Omidyar, who changed the face of Internet commerce when he started eBay in 1995, said, “Microfinance isn't just about offering small loans to the poor. Microfinance is a financially self-sustaining model for empowering the poor to create their own profitable businesses and a better life for themselves and their families. Omidyar Network is proud to support GFUSA in its effort to accelerate growth and sustainability in the microfinance industry. Together we can have a greater impact in fostering economic opportunities to the world's poorest people."

Alex Counts, president of Grameen Foundation USA, said these gifts strengthen the organization's ability to assist the world’s poorest people. “Grameen Foundation USA's goal is to reach five million of the world's poorest families with microfinance, and to ensure that at least half cross the poverty line by 2009,” said Mr. Counts. “I hope that this groundbreaking generosity will inspire other leaders in the world of business and finance to support Grameen Foundation USA and the microfinance sector. By combining the power of philanthropy with our initiative to tap capital markets for social investment capital, we hope to stimulate a major injection of funds into microfinance. ”

About Grameen Foundation USA

Grameen Foundation USA (GFUSA) is a global non-profit organization that combines microfinance, technology, and innovation to empower the world's poorest people to escape poverty. Founded in 1997, GFUSA has established a global network of 50 partners in 20 countries and has impacted an estimated 4.4 million lives in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East.

The Foundation sprang from the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. Grameen Bank was started in 1976 by an economics professor, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, who was convinced that women could break through poverty by taking tiny loans to start or expand tiny businesses. Today, Grameen Bank serves nearly 4 million borrowers, with 10,000 families escaping poverty every month. As strategic global partners, GFUSA and Grameen Bank share a common vision, knowledge and success models to accelerate the microfinance industry's impact on the world's poorest people. Dr. Yunus, the founder and director of Grameen Bank, is a founding and current board member of GFUSA. For more information on Grameen Foundation USA, please visit http://www.gfusa.org.

About Janet McKinley and George Miller

George Miller, now retired after a 35 year career in the investment business, was Chairman of Capital Research Company and head of The American Balanced Fund. Janet McKinley recently retired as Chairman of The Income Fund of America. Both managed global mutual fund assets throughout their careers.

About Omidyar Network

Founded on the simple core belief that every individual has the power to make a difference, Omidyar Network seeks out investments that are "of the people, by the people, for the people." The organization's broad portfolio includes for-profit, nonprofit and public policy efforts. Since June 2004, the Network has funded organizations in a number of areas: microfinance, citizen journalism, open source, intellectual property, voting, software, and transparency in government. Using a diverse and collaborative approach, Omidyar Network intends to foster an environment where individuals can effectively pursue their passions, connect with others who share their interests, and discover their own power to make good things happen. To learn more, please visit http://www.omidyar.net.

Contact:

Michelle Tennant

828-749-3200

michelle@tennant.org

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