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IBM and CARE focus on African microfinance


IBM and CARE are teaming up to bring more microfinancing to Sub-Saharan Africa, lowering the costs of financial services in the region.

The two organizations will establish an Africa Financial Grid to help microfinance institutions reduce operating costs and streamline lending. Eventually the Grid will link with telecommunications companies or other mobile payment providers in Africa, allowing customers to repay loans or carry out money transfers via mobile phones or other devices.

“Microfinance is crucial for sparking economic development in emerging markets,” said Mark Harris, country general manager for IBM South Africa. “Hundreds of millions of people on this continent live on less than $2 per day, so access to even the smallest of loans can make a huge difference in helping entrepreneurs establish or expand their self-supporting operations. In the past, it has been cost-prohibitive for most lenders to target this market, but the combination of technology and expertise that IBM and CARE bring to the table will help overcome those barriers.”

Over the next 10 years, the Grid will help millions of people in Africa tap into the economic opportunities that microfinance can provide. The project will initially target 11 countries, a combined population of more than 400 million.

During the next decade CARE will provide 30 million households in Africa, or roughly 150 million people, with access to a suite of basic financial services, including savings, credit, insurance and remittances.

“Over the past 50 years of working with communities in Africa, CARE has found that one of the most effective ways to address poverty is to promote access to financial services such as savings and credit,” said Steve Hollingworth, CARE chief operating officer. “We believe this partnership with IBM will open new channels for millions of people in Africa to invest in their own futures.”


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