Grameen Foundation Guarantee Engineers $1.5 Million in Financing For ProMujer Bolivia

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Grameen Foundation’s first Growth Guarantee in Latin America facilitates US$1.5 million for partner Pro Mujer Boliva, one of that country's fastest growing microfinance organizations. The transaction represents a significant breakthrough for the microfinance industry, and signals a growing willingness by Bolivian banks to engage the microfinance sector.

Washington, D.C., May 18, 2006—Grameen Foundation, a leading global microfinance organization, today announced two loan guarantees that secure US$1.5 million in funding for Pro Mujer Bolivia (Pro Mujer), a Grameen Foundation partner and one of the fastest growing microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Latin America. The deals with Banco de Credito de Bolivia and Banco Bisa, both Bolivian-based commercial banks, were facilitated by guarantees totaling US$750,000, and will fuel ProMujer’s plans to expand their unique model of “one-stop” financial and healthcare services.

Unlike most MFIs, ProMujer provides all of its services at one location. In addition to providing credit and financial services to clients, it offers direct basic primary health care at its centers, as well as required vaccinations for children and Pap tests for early cancer detection.

“In Bolivia, which is considered one of the most advanced microfinance markets globally, almost 70 percent of microenterprises still lack microfinance services” said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation which first partnered with Pro Mujer in 2005. “We are pleased that our Growth Guarantees will help Pro Mujer increase their national network of financial centers and reach their goal of 105,000 total clients by 2009.” These are the first Latin American transactions from the Grameen Foundation Growth Guarantee program which secures loans in local currency for poverty-focused MFIs.

The simultaneous funding for ProMujer from two banks is also a significant breakthrough for the industry, and signals a growing willingness by Bolivian banks to engage the microfinance sector. In addition, the funding from Banco de Credito de Bolivia is noteworthy as it is part of Banco de Credito Peru, one of South America’s largest banks.

“Until now, getting the leading Bolivian banks to finance our portfolio has been difficult largely because they viewed microfinance operations with uncertainty,” said Carmen Velasco, Pro Mujer‘s executive director. “By borrowing in Bolivianos instead of U.S. dollars, these transactions also allow us to meet the demands of our clients who are increasingly requesting loans in local currency.” Since Bolivia is a highly dollarized economy, ProMujer previously offered loans exclusively in U.S. dollars.

About Grameen Foundation

Grameen Foundation 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, it has established a global network of 52 partners in 22 countries that has impacted an estimated 11 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 6 million borrowers. As strategic global partners, Grameen Foundation 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 the Grameen Foundation. For more information, please visit http://www.gfusa.org.

About Pro Mujer Bolivia

Created in 1990, Pro Mujer Bolivia is one of the leading poverty focused MFIs in Latin America and provides credit with healthcare and education services throughout Bolivia. Over the past five years, it has expanded rapidly, growing from 27,481 borrowers in 2001 to 64,517 borrowers in 2005, and increasing its loan portfolio from $3.2 million to over $11 million. It is part of the ProMujer network of five MFIs in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Argentina.

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