UNCDF?s MicroLead partners The MasterCard Foundation
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The MasterCard Foundation in partnership with the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) launched the expansion of the successful MicroLead program at the 5th Annual African Microfinance Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The $23.5 million six year project will increase access to microfinance, particularly savings services, to 450 000 low income people in Sub- Saharan Africa.
The MicroLead expansion has selected a minimum of eight institutions to enable microfinance leaders to establish new operations in underserved African countries. In this new phase, experienced institutions or networks from developed and developing countries may apply to either establish greenfields or provide technical assistance that results in significant impact, particularly in the number of small-balance savers reached. With a view to strengthening the field, a learning agenda has also been added to enable UNCDF to test if a savings-led approach creates stronger and more resilient financial service providers.
The MicroLead program was launched in 2009 by the UNCDF, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It started off as a $ 26 million fund for developing savings-led market leaders for Inclusive Finance in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). MicroLead provides loans and grants to leading microfinance institutions and other financial service providers (MFIs/ FSPs) on a competitive basis to facilitate their entry into LDCs where access to finance is most challenging. MicroLead also has a special window for early support to post-conflict countries.