Grameen gets MasterCard and Cisco backing for micro finance tech initiative

Source: Grameen Foundation

Grameen Foundation today announced it is expanding its technology for microfinance initiative to provide enhanced support to high-growth, mid-size microfinance institutions (MFIs) serving up to one million clients.

It also plans to extend the Mifos platform to enhance connectivity to mobile payment systems and improve the integration of the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPITM). These efforts are being supported by The MasterCard and Cisco Foundations.

In addition to enabling MFIs to automate their operations, Mifos offers a common platform for the microfinance industry to combine efforts, deliver information and financing to poor people more seamlessly and capture and utilize social performance data. The PPI is a globally recognized poverty assessment tool which enables MFIs to understand their effectiveness in targeting poor clients and tracking their progress.

The $1.23 million from The MasterCard Foundation will help form the Mifos Consortium. This group of bellwether MFIs will help to develop a benchmark for successful technology management in the microfinance sector and demonstrate the potential return on investment. The consortium program is part of the Grameen Foundation's 10-year plan of reaching 100 million new clients through MFIs using its Mifos platform. It is also geared towards building the ranks of mid-sized MFIs by enabling members to expand their outreach to at least 300,000 additional clients over two years. The inaugural members include Grameen Koota of India, enda inter-arabe of Tunisia, Al Majmoua of Lebanon, KEEF of Kenya, and KMBI of the Philippines.

"The MasterCard Foundation and Grameen Foundation share a goal of using technology to accelerate the expansion of microfinance to the poor," said Reeta Roy, president and CEO, The MasterCard Foundation. "This program will document the impact of Mifos and enable MFIs to more effectively use technology."

"We are pleased to work with The MasterCard Foundation and the Cisco Foundation in helping to establish a technology standard for microfinance institutions," said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation. Â "This will allow them to effectively manage informnformation and financing and vastly simplify the process of developing and providing new services that can accelerate the rate at which they serve the poor."

Today, MFIs are being challenged to find cost-effective avenues for reaching into more unserved and underserved rural communities and tracking their clients' movement out of poverty. The grant of nearly $500,000 from the Cisco Foundation, a long-standing supporter of the Mifos platform, will enable Grameen Foundation to integrate these capabilities into Mifos, and bridge the gap between microfinance supply and demand. This will help drive transformative increases in scale, innovation, sustainability, and social impact of MFIs around the world.

"The Cisco Foundation focuses on social investments that promote economic empowerment and financial inclusion and build the capacities of communities to become self-sufficient," said Michael Yutrzenka, executive director, Cisco Foundation. "We are proud to continue our collaboration with the Grameen Foundation and support the next generation of Mifos through an innovative technology platform that enables microfinance organizations to effectively and efficiently serve even more underserved populations."

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