Grameen Foundation and Microsoft Announce Initiative to Expand Value and Use of Technology for Microfinance

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Inaugural Microfinance Leadership Summit focuses on helping microfinance institutions reach more of the world’s poor through technology

December 2, 2009 - Grameen Foundation and Microsoft Corp. today announced a joint initiative to help accelerate microfinance’s impact on poverty alleviation through the strategic use of technology. This initiative will kick-off today at the inaugural Microfinance Leadership Summit in Manila, the Philippines, where Microsoft will also donate software worth up to US$1 million to eligible microfinance institutions (MFIs) attending the event. Titled, “Fueling Growth: Strategic Technology for Microfinance,” the summit is cosponsored by Grameen Foundation and Microsoft, in partnership with the Microfinance Council of the Philippines.  
 
The summit will bring together executive management teams from 50 leading Filipino MFIs to provide them with a new framework for strategically adopting and using technology to expand their financial services to more poor households.  It is the first in a series of education and mentorship forums for microfinance that Microsoft and Grameen Foundation plan to conduct in other countries in the coming year. The Philippines was chosen as the launch market because of its demonstrated leadership in the microfinance industry and advanced technology infrastructure, as well as the availability of resources on the ground to assist MFIs in adopting technology.  
 
During the summit, attendees will receive practical advice on how to effectively use technology to enhance their work and prove the business and social impact of their technology investments. Equally important, it will provide MFIs with the opportunity to forge new relationships with industry partners, service providers and funders they need to maximize their success. With this summit as the first step, Microsoft and Grameen Foundation will work together to deliver new learning models and solutions to ensure technology enables microfinance to reach greater numbers of the world’s poor.
 
“Every nonprofit is faced with the challenge of doing more with less. Technology can help, but NGOs must advance their technological capabilities, and technology providers must ensure that today’s innovations are affordable and accessible,” commented Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Global Community Affairs, Microsoft. “Microsoft meets this challenge in two key ways.  First by donating software to more than 30,000 nonprofits each year, helping them establish stable and secure IT platforms. Second by working very closely with key partners that can provide domain or technical expertise to the nonprofit community to make that technology as effective as possible. By working closely with Grameen Foundation, we can bring the benefits of technology to microfinance institutions around the world, translating into greater support for people in need. Partnership is at the center of bringing the benefits of technology to our society.”
 
“Technology is just one of the many challenges facing microfinance executives today. Microsoft and Grameen Foundation, as catalysts for change, can help microfinance executives make the right business and technology decisions to achieve sustainability and long-term growth,” said George Conard, executive director of Grameen Foundation’s Technology for Microfinance initiative.  “By hosting this summit in one of the most vibrant microfinance markets, we will be able to demonstrate how microfinance institutions can cost-effectively integrate technology into their business strategy in a way that greatly enhances their ability to serve more of the world’s poor.”  
 
The foundation’s Seattle-based Technology Center has been a leader in spearheading innovative technology solutions for the microfinance industry.  As part of its Technology for Microfinance initiative, it has developed Mifos (www.mifos.org), an award-winning open source information management platform for microfinance.
 
For more information please visit http://www.microfinanceleadershipsummit.org
 
About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
 
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world’s poorest people access financial services and technology solutions by providing financing, technology support and management strategies to the local organizations that serve them. It also spearheads technology initiatives that create new microbusiness opportunities for the poor, provide telecommunications access for the world's rural poor, and improve their access to health and agriculture information and other services. Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Washington, Hong Kong, Ghana and the Philippines. Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is a founding member of its board of directors, and now serves as director emeritus.  For more information, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org.

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