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Omidyar Network Grants $4.5 Million to Opportunity International to Scale Technology-based Microfinance Services in Africa
Date:2/24/2009

OAK BROOK, Ill., Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Opportunity International today announced it has received a $4.5 million grant from Omidyar Network. Opportunity will use the grant to design, create and implement new electronic and mobile banking technologies that will reduce transaction costs and make microfinance services available to more people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, has committed more than $90 million to microfinance programs since 2004. Omidyar Network provided the $4.5 million grant to Opportunity International because of the organization's leadership in developing and implementing innovative technologies that deliver financial services to the poor.

Opportunity International will use the grant to launch an "electronic wallet" strategy in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda -- countries where Opportunity has significant operations already, including banks and financial institutions. The strategy aims to develop the optimum mix of electronic banking technologies needed in each of these countries.

"Omidyar Network is pleased to be working with Opportunity International on this innovative microfinance initiative," said Matt Bannick, managing partner, Omidyar Network. "Opportunity International has made significant progress in modernizing microfinance delivery channels and openly shares its knowledge to help advance the entire industry. This collaborative spirit, along with a scalable, technology-based model, makes Opportunity International a natural fit for Omidyar Network."

Optimizing Technology Differs in Each Country

The first step of the effort is to establish new telecommunications solutions in each of the eight African countries mentioned previously. Opportunity will test and implement satellite and broadband Inte
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SOURCE Opportunity International
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