Caterpillar grant to expand microfinance program offerings to more poor people in China and Africa
OAK BROOK, Ill., (November 20, 2006) — Opportunity International announced today a philanthropic grant of $1.2 million from Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) through the Caterpillar Foundation. Caterpillar has provided a dozen moderate-sized grants to Opportunity International since 1994, and this latest donation represents the largest gift ever by Caterpillar to a microfinance organization. The grant will assist Opportunity International in expanding initiatives in China and six African nations. A pioneer in microfinance since 1971, and today one of the largest microfinance organizations, Opportunity International offers small business loans, insurance, banking services and business training to the poorest of the working poor in 28 countries worldwide.
The grant comes as Opportunity International expands its presence in Asia and Africa. Approximately $750,000 of the Caterpillar Inc. funding is allocated to support Opportunity International’s programs in China. The new funding is expected to create about 5,000 new jobs in the city of Hefei in Anhui province over the next three years, providing the capital to benefit about 25,000 people. The Caterpillar grant is the largest gift received by Opportunity International for its operations in China, where the organization opened an office in 2003.
The remainder of the grant will be distributed equally to Opportunity International’s programs in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Mozambique, Malawi and Rwanda. In addition to providing credit in the form of microloans, Opportunity International has opened banks in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa that feature innovations such as biometric fingerprint identification technology, mobile ATMs, savings accounts, low-cost money transfers and health, life and even crop insurance for the poorest of the working poor. The Africa portion of the grant will help more than 28,000 poor people, bringing the total expected impact of the Caterpillar grant to benefit more than 53,000 workers, entrepreneurs and their family members.
“We have a great deal of confidence in Opportunity International to effectively deliver services to help the working poor in these important two regions of the world,” said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Owens. “We enjoy a long history with Opportunity International during which time they have consistently demonstrated an ongoing expertise in microfinance and a track record of integrity. We are pleased to expand our support of their work.”
Christopher A. Crane, president and chief executive officer of Opportunity International said, “We greatly appreciate the confidence and support from the management and employees of Caterpillar Inc. and the Caterpillar Foundation. This grant will significantly bolster our microfinance operations in two critical regions where we are committed to providing a complete range of financial services to help the poor to work their way out of poverty.”
Corporate Gift to Enhance “$1 Billion for 100 Million People” Campaign
The Caterpillar grant is the latest in a series of high-profile gifts to Opportunity International as it begins a new campaign to mobilize $1 billion over the next six years to benefit 100 million poor people by 2015. “We are enjoying tremendous momentum, both in our organization and for microfinance in general in the wake of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to a microfinance practitioner,” Crane said. “These are exciting times because there is greater recognition that the work we do in providing a hand up, not a hand out, to the working poor is effective in helping millions of people and their families earn their way out of poverty.”
In addition to Caterpillar, Opportunity International has received corporate gifts from Lenovo Corporation ($1 million in computer hardware), Levis Strauss Foundation ($75,000), Compassion International ($180,000), the Roy E. Disney family/Shamrock Holdings ($200,000) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($2.25 million). In addition, Opportunity International recently received an individual donor gift from John and Jacque Weberg of $5 million annually for the next 10 years, the largest individual gift ever to a microfinance organization.
About Opportunity International
Opportunity International provides access to savings, small business loans, insurance and training to over five million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in over 20 countries use these financial services to start or expand a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors and build a safety net for the future. For more information, visit http://www.opportunity.org or join the conversation at http://facebook.com/opportunityintl and http://twitter.com/opportunityintl.