Rob Katz

Gates Foundation Supports M-Banking, IFC Hiring BOP Managers

The BOP universe continues to stay busy, and the multilaterals seem to be leading the pack in certain ways.

First, PSDBlog points to a CGAP press release; the Gates Foundation is granting $24 million over 4 years to scale up CGAP’s mobile banking work.? From the release:

To identify innovative new approaches, CGAP will build partnerships with a wide variety of actors – from mobile network operators to banks and technology firms. The program will also invite proposals from organizations interested in experimenting with new models for reaching the poor, and will offer technical assistance and grants to offset risks and capture key lessons. CGAP will also shape an understanding of the financial sector regulation that can stimulate new approaches while protecting customers and financial providers.

Meanwhile, Courtland dropped a copy of this week’s Economist on my desk today, with a sticky note on page 18 – the Executive Focus section.? The top right ad is for a Senior Program Manager to run the International Finance Corporation’s new “Lighting the Bottom of the Pyramid” initiative.? From the LED web site:

“Lighting the Bottom of the Pyramid” is a global initiative to develop a commercial solution to bring modern lighting services to the 1.6 billion people that lack access to electricity, and currently spend $38 billion/year on fuel-based lighting–an inefficient solution that hinders development…IFC will mobilize the private sector, and leverage technological advances in modern lighting, particularly LEDs, to catalyze and facilitate a market-driven solution that will increase the access to and affordability of modern lighting services to the poorest of the poor–those at the “bottom of the pyramid”.

What does this mean for the BOP?? Well, we see in these two announcements a couple of trends:

  • Multilaterals – the World Bank via CGAP and the IFC – clearly “get” the BOP idea and are incorporating it into their programs.
  • Aid is changing.? Big charitable orgs like the Gates Foundation are re-routing some of their funds to support business driven solutions to poverty.? And in this case, they’re leveraging technology and financial services to increase access and stimulate growth.? Sounds pro-poor and pro-business.

As we hear more, we’ll let you know.? Know of something we missed?? Suggest a story or drop a comment in the field below.