The MasterCard Foundation and BRAC announced today a $19.6 million program to expand financial services to the poor across Uganda, benefiting approximately 2 million people.
This initiative will demonstrate for the first time the full potential of BRAC's holistic microfinance approach to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods in Africa. Insights generated from this program will enable BRAC to accelerate its long-term plan to adapt this approach for other African countries.
"The MasterCard Foundation is working with innovators like BRAC to expand the access and reach of microfinance services to the poor, supporting their entrepreneurship so they can improve their own lives and communities," said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation.
Based in Bangladesh, BRAC is the world's largest development organization and is one of the leading providers of microfinance services. BRAC's approach, which it calls "microfinance multiplied," increases the ability of poor clients to productively use their loans to augment their incomes and build their assets, as well as stimulate economic and social development within their communities.
"This initiative with The MasterCard Foundation will be our largest program in Africa," said Fazle Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC. "What we learn in Uganda, including how to provide savings to poor women and their communities, will help us rapidly scale up our operations to provide services to millions of people throughout Africa."
Working with the MasterCard Foundation, BRAC is poised to become one of Uganda's most effective institutions serving significant numbers of rural households. BRAC recognizes the need of poor people to have a secure place to save their money and the role of savings in sustainable microfinance. As part of this program, BRAC will explore the feasibility of becoming a regulated deposit-taking institution in Uganda, a role it has not yet played in Africa.
The government of Uganda has made expanding financial services to the rural poor one of its top priorities. More than 37 percent of Uganda's population live on less than a dollar a day and 62 percent do not have access to financial services.
Women and girls are among the most negatively affected by poverty, and they play an important role as change agents in their families and communities. In Uganda, the program will provide economically active women with loans, training and technical support to enable them to improve their livelihoods. Additionally, the program will expand vocational and life-skills education for adolescent girls.